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Block on Missouri abortion law upheld by federal court

Ailan Evans, DCNF

A federal court upheld an earlier district court ruling on Wednesday that blocked Missouri’s recently passed abortion law.

The law, titled the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, prohibits abortions for women eight or more weeks pregnant and for women seeking an abortion solely due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. U.S. 8th Circuit Judge Jane Kelly ruled that the law was unconstitutional.

The ruling upheld an earlier injunction issued by a district court in a suit brought by Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood against Missouri. The appeals court argued that prohibiting pre-viability abortions on the basis of “gestational age” was in practice a ban, as “there is nothing an individual in Missouri could lawfully do to obtain an abortion at or after the applicable gestational age cut-off.”

“Gestational Age Provisions are bans, and we agree with the district court,” the court wrote. “Bans on pre-viability abortions are categorically unconstitutional.”

The court also ruled that prohibiting abortions for women seeking the procedure solely due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome was unconstitutional.

???? BREAKING: Federal appeals court blocks cascading abortion bans in Missouri

“We’re disappointed the circuit court refused to let Missouri’s law stand,” said Sue Liebel, policy director for pro-life group The Susan B. Anthony List, in a statementWednesday. “Missouri lawmakers acted on the will of the people when they enacted some of the nation’s strongest protections for the unborn and their mothers in 2019.”

Yamelsie Rodríguez, president of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, applauded the decision. “Planned Parenthood will not back down — today is proof enough,” she said in a statement.

The ruling comes amid a surge of new pro-life legislation, with over 500 pro-life bills introduced this year by lawmakers across the country.

Moreover, the Supreme Court decided last month to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case concerning a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks.  Abortion advocacy groups, such as The Center for Reproductive Rights, have raised concerns that the case has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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