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Federal appeals court overturns decision blocking enforcement of abortion laws

Laws relate to protecting health and safety of women seeking abortion

A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling that prohibited Missouri from enforcing pro-life laws designed to protect the health and safety of women considering abortion.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion vacating a preliminary injunction from May 2017, which prohibited the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) from enforcing state laws and DHSS regulations requiring physicians who perform abortions to have hospital privileges, according to a statement from the department. The injunction also prohibited the department from enforcing portions of Missouri’s ambulatory surgical center licensing laws for abortion facilities.

DHSS said it will immediately begin enforcing the hospital privileges and physical plant requirements for abortion facilities.

Director Dr. Randall Williams said, “In its opinion, the court noted that the good faith of state officers and the validity of their actions are presumed. As the Director of DHSS, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist for 30 years, and a defendant in the case, my commitment and that of the department is to act in good faith to follow the law and protect the health and safety of all women in Missouri, including those seeking abortions.”

Planned Parenthood noted in a statement that that the recent ruling could “impact its services within weeks, forcing Planned Parenthood to suspend abortion services in Columbia and limiting access for patients seeking abortion to a single Missouri provider in St. Louis, as well as threatening efforts to restart services in Kansas City. The ruling will also risk further delaying plans to expand access to Springfield and Joplin.”

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