A federal judge blocked a restrictive abortion ban that would have taken effect in Missouri Wednesday while it is contested in court.
What We Know:
- The law would ban abortions at or after eight weeks of pregnancy and enforce a series of strict restrictions making Missouri one of the most restrictive states in the country with regards to abortion. The legislation, which passed the House of Representatives in a 110 to 44 vote, states that abortion is restricted to a medical emergency with criminal consequences for the seeker and provider. The bill does include “trigger law” and less-restrictive aspects to allow abortion between 14 to 20 weeks, but this privilege is restricted by race, sex and prenatal diagnosis, test or screening.
- The legislation eliminates down syndrome as a legitimate means for abortion and does not provide exceptions for rape and incest victims and bans abortions based on race and sex. It would increase tax usage for “pregnancy resource centers” which will encourage women to carry out their pregnancies, 104 of which already exist in Missouri.
- District Judge Howard Sachs froze the legislation while it is being contested in court. Both Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri have challenged the ban in a federal lawsuit, claiming it is unconstitutional. The lawsuit explains that the 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, ruled that abortions can only be banned by states after fetuses can survive outside the womb, or become viable, which is 24 to 28 weeks into a pregnancy. Missouri’s proposed eight-week ban, then, would go against this federal law and thus would need to be preceded by the overturn of Roe v. Wade to be constitutional.
- This trend is not new. Earlier this year Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was also blocked by a federal judge after he signed a bill to outlaw abortion procedures once a fetal heartbeat is detected, effectively criminalizing abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Ohio, Arkansas and Kentucky have also seen blocked abortion bans this past summer.
Sachs explained that the freeze on the ban is to avoid the “threat of irreparable harm” to patients and to uphold the place of public opinion in the law.