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“We’re here for our patients,” says Planned Parenthood

Court ruling will force women to delay abortions and drive hundreds of miles

KANSAS CITY, MO — Today, the Circuit Court of Jackson County Missouri in Kansas City refused to block Senate Bill 5’s same-physician mandate, a medically unnecessary law recently passed that severely restricts access to safe, legal abortion for Missourians. Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP), Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (RHS), and the ACLU of Missouri vowed to continue to fight to preserve access to safe, legal abortion in Missouri.

Today’s ruling means the restrictions will take effect on Tuesday, October 24. Planned Parenthood’s doors remain open in Missouri and pledged to do everything in its power to reduce the harmful impact of this law on its patients.

With the passage of Senate Bill 5, Missouri legislators have piled on yet another restriction that provides no new information or benefits to women: it requires the very same physician who will later provide the abortion to also provide the mandated information at least 72 hours earlier. This will block many women from accessing care at all, and could result in extreme delays for weeks at a time for those women who are able to obtain abortion care. Women in areas like Springfield will be forced to make a 300- to 400-mile round trip twice to a health center that provides abortion, rather than making their initial visit at a local health center (as they could prior to this law).

Abortion providers already follow strict medical guidelines that include giving all prospective patients comprehensive information about their options and medical procedures and risks during the voluntary, informed consent process. In addition, Missouri law already burdens women by requiring that certain information be given in person by a physician, nurse, or other qualified professional, requiring two separate appointments that must have at least a 72 hour delay between them.

Abortion is a time-sensitive procedure, and extreme delays like these will mean some people cannot access an abortion at all. These barriers are hardest on those who already face challenges to accessing care: young people, women of color, those who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes. More than 70 percent of RHS patients have incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region President and CEO Mary M. Kogut said: “We’re here for our patients, and we will continue to advocate for them. This law does not improve the safety and well-being of women in Missouri seeking abortion. Rather, it is part of a broader agenda to ban safe, legal abortion and runs counter to the predominate medical consensus of physicians and the Missouri Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. We will continue to fight this and any bill that allows politicians to stand in the way of a woman’s ability to make personal medical decisions that are best for her health and well-being.”

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Interim President and CEO Aaron Samulcek said: “The harsh reality of today’s court ruling is that this law will force some women to wait weeks for an abortion, travel hundreds of miles, or lose access altogether. Comprehensive Health of PPGP stands ready to assist our patients in navigating a restrictive minefield so they can attempt to continue accessing safe, legal abortion at health centers across the state. Meanwhile, we will continue fighting the medically unnecessary same-physician mandate to the fullest extent of the law.”

ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Deputy Director Talcott Camp said: “Missouri women will get no relief today as a harmful and medically unjustified law is permitted to stand. But the larger struggle for health and justice goes on, in Missouri and across the country. We will continue to be vigilant, proactive, and persistent in fighting for the ability of each woman to make personal decisions about pregnancy and when to become a parent.”

ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey A. Mittman said: “We’re disappointed in today’s court decision. We will never stop fighting to protect a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion in Missouri. We know that this law will harm the women that it falsely claims to protect. We will continue to fight on all fronts to make sure the government’s actions represent the will of the people. We know most Missourians support a woman’s right to make private health decisions with her doctor and her family.”