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Federal Judge Blocks Missouri Abortion Law a Day Before It Takes Effect

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A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a pro-life law in Missouri from taking effect on Wednesday.

The “Missouri Stands for the Unborn” act, signed into law by Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons in May, makes it illegal to perform an abortion more than eight weeks into a pregnancy.

The law applies in nearly all cases, and does not make exceptions for rape and incest. Considered one of the most pro-life pieces of legislation in the country, the bill also includes “a ladder of less-restrictive time limits” up to 20 weeks, depending on what the courts say, according to CBS News.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and America’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood filed suit, claiming the bill poses an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.

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The bill goes against the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, the legislation’s opponents say, in part because many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at eight weeks, as NBC News noted.

In a ruling Tuesday, Judge Howard Sachs of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri said parts of the law cannot take effect, at least for now.

“The various sections specifying prohibitions on abortions at various weeks prior to viability cannot be allowed to go into effect on August 28, as scheduled,” wrote Sachs, an appointee of former President Jimmy Carter, as The Hill noted.

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“However formulated, the legislation on its face conflicts with the Supreme Court ruling that neither legislative or judicial limits on abortion can be measured by specified weeks or development of a fetus,” Sachs added.

“Instead, ‘viability’ is the sole test for a State’s authority to prohibit abortions where there is no maternal health issue.”

The state, meanwhile, had argued that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood were off-base in challenging the law in court.

It’s women seeking abortions who will be affected the most by the law, the state said, and thus, they’re the only ones with legal standing to challenge the bill.

Sachs disagreed, writing in his ruling that abortion providers have “standing to assert and litigate rights of anticipated future abortion patients.”

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The bill also bans “selective” abortions based on race, gender or Down syndrome, and Sachs is allowing those provisions to take effect on Wednesday.

This could change when the full case is litigated, according to The Hill.

Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO, expressed relief that the eight-week abortion ban won’t go into effect as scheduled. But in her mind, the ruling still didn’t go far enough.

“What little abortion access in Missouri is left, will stay in place for the time being. In the meantime, we cannot ignore the part of this law that remains in place, which allows politicians to interfere with the patient-provider relationship,” Johnson said in a statement to CBS News.

“Let’s be very clear: these severe restrictions on abortion access do nothing to address disability rights or discrimination. They only stigmatize abortion and shame the people who seek that care.”

And Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, said the state is looking over the ruling to decide “on next steps.”

“Like Attorneys General who came before him, Attorney General Eric Schmitt is tasked with defending the laws of the state and is dedicated to protecting Missourians, born and unborn,” Nuelle told CBS.

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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