Federal judge blocks Missouri’s 8-week abortion ban

A key part of Missouri’s new controversial abortion law won’t start Wednesday after a ruling by a Kansas City federal judge.

Judge Howard Sachs ruled that the section of the law which would ban most abortions starting at eight weeks of pregnancy will not go into effect tomorrow as planned.

However, Judge Sachs is allowing what’s known as the “reasons ban.” That is, barring abortions based on race, gender, or a Down Syndrome diagnosis to go forward.

Judge Sachs issued a preliminary injunction stopping the gestational age ban while the case continues to be argued in court.

"The various sections specifying prohibitions on abortions at various weeks prior to viability cannot be allowed to go into effect on August 28, as scheduled," Judge Howard Sachs wrote in an 11-page opinion.

"However formulated, the legislation on its face conflicts with the Supreme Court ruling that neither legislative or judicial limits on abortion can be measured by specified weeks or development of a fetus; instead, 'viability' is the sole test for a State's authority to prohibit abortions where there is no maternal health issue."

Governor Parson, who supported the bill and signed it into law, issued a statement reading, in part: “We are encouraged that today’s court ruling upheld the anti-discrimination provisions of the law, and we look forward to litigating the remaining issues. As governor, I am honored to lead a state that is committed to standing up for those without a voice and will continue to fight for the unborn.”

Tuesday's ruling comes after two other federal judges blocked similar abortion restrictions in Arkansas and Ohio earlier this summer, as the slew of state laws looking to challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, make their way through the courts.

The Missouri law in question would penalize medical professionals who perform abortions after eight weeks into a pregnancy -- before many women know that they are pregnant, and well before the 24-week viability standard established by Roe -- with up to 15 years in prison. The law does not include exceptions for instances of rape or incest, only for instances of "medical emergency," such to prevent a pregnant woman's death or "substantial and irreversible physical impairment."

Planned Parenthood was one of the main players to sue the state of Missouri in an effort to block the new law.

Planned Parenthood officials called the ruling a partial victory.

“Now we are adding to the list of states that are clearly saying these are unconstitutional bans on abortion. So that’s a huge victory for Missourians. We will continue to fight to make sure that Missourians have access to all of the reproductive health care they need regardless of where they live,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, attorney Jay Kanzler, a legal expert for Fox 2, said the judge is basically upholding the Supreme Court’s interpretation that states can’t stop a woman from having an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus.

“The judge is saying the US Supreme Court has spoken and Missouri legislature you have no authority, it is unconstitutional to try to change what the US Supreme Court has already ruled is the law of the land,” he said.

Missouri Right to Life put out a statement saying Judge Sachs has a history of ruling for abortion and that they are disappointed but not surprised by the ruling.

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