Appeals court blocks Planned Parenthood from expanding abortion services in Missouri

(Wikimedia Commons/Fibonacci Blue)A Planned Parenthood facility in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked Planned Parenthood from expanding its abortion services in Missouri.

On Friday, the appeals court issued a one-sentence temporary stay on a lower court ruling that blocked the state from enforcing a law that required abortionists to maintain hospital privileges within 30 miles of the abortion facility.

Planned Parenthood had sought licenses to conduct abortions at its facilities in Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield and Joplin. The clinic in Kansas City is expected to start offering abortions this week as it had already received a license, but no facility license is expected to be issued to the other three clinics.

The applications of the three facilities were still being reviewed by the Department of Health and Senior Services, which issues the licenses for abortion clinics in Missouri.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains expressed disappointment with Friday's ruling, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that admitting privileges and the physical requirements for abortion clinics are unconstitutional and create an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

"Let's be clear, these are politically and ideologically motivated laws that will do nothing but harm Missourians," Great Plains interim president and CEO Aaron Samulcek said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. "We have never and will never stop fighting for our patients' ability to access safe, legal abortion — that is a promise we intend to keep," he added.

The ruling has been hailed by pro-life groups as a victory. "I think what this means is that Columbia, Joplin and Springfield probably will not be licensed by the department," said Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri.

Life News reported that none of the three Planned Parenthood facilities are in compliance with the hospital privilege rule or the facility requirement of the existing law.

"We are very grateful for the last-minute reprieve from the Eighth Circuit that allows the Department of Health to fulfill its duty to protect the public," said Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue.

"Licensing these substandard facilities for abortions would have been a grave mistake that would have cost the lives of babies, and endangered their mothers," he added.

While the abortion facility in Kansas City was expected to begin offering abortion pill on Monday, Newman said that the clinic can only begin the process of informed consent that day because of Missouri's 72-hour waiting period. He encouraged pro-life supporters in the Kansas city area to "maintain a steady presence" at the facility.

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