Judge denies Planned Parenthood request for injunction, medication abortions still limited in Show-Me State

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Planned Parenthood will not be allowed to provide medication-induced abortions at the Springfield or Columbia clinics housed in Missouri, as per a Monday ruling from a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips denied a request from Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri for a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the regulations. The lawsuit lists the state Department of Health and Senior Services, which licenses clinics, and county prosecutors who would enforce criminal penalties in the law, as the defendants.

Those regulations require those providing medication abortions to find doctors with admitting privileges at a local hospital who will be available at all times of the day to treat any complications or issues that may arise from the administering of the medication abortions.

Phillips ruled that Planned Parenthood had not shown that enough women would be denied access to abortions under the state rules imposed last year, though she wrote that the regulations have “virtually no benefit” and that the burden imposed was not enough to be considered unconstitutional.

“A state regulation that increases the distance a woman must travel or the expense of the procedure will not, alone, constitute an undue burden,” she wrote. “It is not enough for the regulation to make it more difficult for women to obtain an abortion; instead, it must be a substantial burden on their ability to obtain an abortion.”

Right now, medication abortions are only provided in Kansas City or St. Louis.

Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office praised the decision in a statement from press secretary Mary Compton.

“We are pleased that the district court denied Planned Parenthood’s motion for preliminary injunction.” Compton wrote in an email to the Columbia Daily Tribune. “The Attorney General’s Office will continue to vigorously defend commonsense regulations that protect the health of Missouri women.”

Following the decision, Brandon Hill, Comprehensive Health of Planned ParenthoodGreat Plains President and CEO and Mary M. Kogut, Reproductive HealthServices of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region President and CEO, released the following statement:

“It is extremely troubling that the Court would allow a regulation, that it found ‘hasvirtually no benefit,’ to deny women access to safe, legal abortion. Even though theCourt found that complications from medication abortion are ’rare,’ and ‘stronglysuspect[ed] that this requirement has been imposed specifically because DHSS isaware that it is difficult for abortion providers to comply with it, and simply constitutesa backdoor effort to require admitting privileges in an attempt to avoid (or ignore)Hellerstedt,’ the Court still has declined to stop this senseless regulation. Politicians and state regulators, ignoring medical evidence, continue to imposearbitrary restrictions that harm the women they purportedly serve. As was the case withthe medically unnecessary and burdensome regulations that the U.S. Supreme Courtstruck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, we are confident thisunnecessary regulation will ultimately be overturned. We will continue to fight forjustice and the right for all Missourians to access the comprehensive sexual andreproductive health care they choose.”

Read the judge’s decision below.

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