STL Public Radio: Missouri legislators hope to repeal abortion laws after similar rules struck down in Texas

By Durrie Bouscaren

Three Democrats in the Missouri legislature plan to file bills repealing two of the state’s laws restricting abortion facilities, following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that threw out similar measures in Texas.

“It is the right thing to do. And we have, frankly, women on our side, the medical community on our side, and now the highest law in the land on our side,” Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, said on a conference call Wednesday.

She was joined by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis.

Like Texas, Missouri requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and clinics to fill the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center. Supporters say the rules protect patients, but in court briefs the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say there is no medical reason to require this.

In a 5-3 vote over Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court on June 27, established that the Texas laws created an undue burden on abortion access, and were therefore unconstitutional. That sets a legal precedent for parties who wish to challenge Missouri’s laws in the future.

Earlier coverage: Supreme Court action likely to toss Missouri’s abortion restrictions back into court

“If it happens through legislation or has to go through the judiciary, these restrictive laws will be overturned,” Newman said.

Missouri Democrats will have an uphill battle to push the legislation as a minority party. State Rep. Sue Allen, a Republican from Town and Country, said she thinks the state’s requirements on abortion clinics should stay on the books.

“You know what, the Supreme Court doesn’t always do the right thing,” Allen said. “The Supreme Court gives opinions, they don’t rule on right or wrong and safety.”

“The current law in Missouri, while similar to the Texas law, has some differences. Missouri’s law should continue to be enforced to protect our citizens from dangerous abortions being conducted in fly-by-night strip-mall clinics,” said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, in a statement.

Last fall, and under pressure from Republican lawmakers, the University of Missouri revoked hospital admitting privileges to a physician who prescribed the abortion pill at Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Columbia. Since then, Planned Parenthood in St. Louis’ Central West End has been the state’s only abortion provider. It is a free-standing clinic.

Follow Durrie on Twitter: @durrieB.

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