A Missouri judge declined Monday to block a law requiring that abortion doctors meet with their patients three days prior to the procedure. Planned Parenthood’s two Missouri affiliates, along with the ACLU, challenged the law claiming it imposed an undue burden on women seeking an abortion since the same abortion doctor may not be able to see them three days after a consultation.
Jackson County Judge S. Margene Burnett said the requirement was “at best a moderate modification of the informed consent restraints already in place” and denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order.
Before the law was in place any “qualified health professional” could advise the patient on risks, abortion methods, and medical factors 72 hours prior to the abortion. This law now specifies that the health professional must be the same doctor performing the procedure.
Judge Burnett also dismissed Planned Parenthood’s argument that the new law would especially burden patients because of the scarcity of abortion doctors in the state.
Burnett said the scarcity of physicians was not the state’s doing and the law “would not place a substantial obstacle in a woman’s decision to obtain an abortion.”
Aaron Samulcek, the interim president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said they would continue to fight the requirement.
“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,” Samulcek said in a statement.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who was named in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit, said he was “very pleased” with Monday’s ruling.
“SB5 enacts sensible regulations that protect the health of women in Missouri and we will continue to vigorously defend these,” he emphasized.