JEFFERSON CITY, MO. Planned Parenthood sued Monday seeking to strike down a new Missouri law that it claims could eliminate abortion services in large parts of the state by subjecting clinics to stringent state oversight.
The federal lawsuit asks a judge for an injunction preventing the law from taking effect Aug. 28 and seeks a ruling that it infringes on a constitutional right to abortion.
If the law takes effect, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri claims it will be forced to halt abortions at its Columbia and Kansas City offices - either permanently or while costly and "medically unnecessary" renovations are made.
That would leave the St. Louis area as the only place in Missouri with functioning abortion facilities, the lawsuit said, although Planned Parenthood also operates an abortion clinic just across the state line in Kansas.
Missouri's anti-abortion majority in the Legislature contends the law is necessary to ensure the health and safety of women seeking abortions. Republican Gov. Matt Blunt also declared, when signing the law, that abortion clinics should shut down if they can't - or don't want - to meet the stricter state licensing requirements.
"This onerous legislation has nothing to do with protecting women's health and safety," Planned Parenthood Chief Executive Officer Peter Brownlie said Monday. "This is a blatant attempt to close down clinics and deny women their right to health care."
Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, a lead sponsor of the legislation, cast doubt on Planned Parenthood's claims of financial hardship and forced clinic closures.
But Scott acknowledged: "Certainly, abortion is our target here and we're trying to save the lives of our children. We feel it's a fair way to regulate them like other procedures."
Among other things, the lawsuit notes, outpatient surgery centers must have halls at least 6 feet wide and doors at least 44 inches wide; separate male and female changing rooms for personnel; and a recovery room with space for at least four beds with 3 feet of clearance around each.