ST. LOUIS, MO — Earlier today, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned a 2017 ruling that blocked enforcement of unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics in the state. The Missouri laws, which will now be able to be enforced, require that doctors who perform abortions be affiliated with hospitals and that abortion clinics be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.
Both parts of the law upheld today are TRAP laws, targeted regulations of abortion providers, which place unfair requirements on abortion clinics and add an undue burden to women seeking reproductive health care at the clinics. Virtually identical laws were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt just two years ago.
“Today’s decision by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is a huge blow to women across the state who will now face a significantly more difficult path to accessing the abortion care they want and need. The Supreme Court decided two years ago that TRAP laws like these are obviously unconstitutional, as they place an undue burden on patients. It’s extremely disheartening to see the 8th Circuit Court egregiously ignore this ruling from our nation’s highest court and recklessly limit access to care anyway,” said Alison Dreith, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.
“This is exactly why we’re working so hard to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court right now: because poor interpretations of the law in court lead to real women facing unnecessary and unfair hurdles to getting the care they deserve. Today’s disappointing decision is just a preview of what could happen if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed.”
Today’s decision will allow the TRAP laws to be enforced shortly, which will force Missouri into becoming a one-clinic state again. The injunction had previously allowed services to resume in Columbia, and had opened up the possibility for services to resume in Kansas City, Joplin, and Springfield. When Missouri is down to one clinic again, patients will have to travel hundreds of miles to access care.