A three-judge panel from the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis heard arguments in September in the legal battle over the 2019 law. The measure would also bar a woman from having an abortion because the fetus has Down syndrome.
Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood’s Reproductive Health Services of the St. Louis region, called the ruling “a critical victory for Missourians.”
“For now, we celebrate our continued ability to provide safe and legal abortion at the last remaining clinic in Missouri,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement that his son, Stephen, who has a rare genetic condition, autism and epilepsy, “has shown me the beauty and dignity inherent in all life, especially those with special needs. Although we are disappointed. ” In the Eighth Circuit’s decision, their decision provides an avenue for this case to be heard by the Supreme Court, and we plan to seek a review in the Supreme Court. ”
The lawsuit was filed by Reproductive Health Services, which operates the St. Louis abortion clinic, and the American Civil Liberties Union. A federal judge had blocked the law while the legal challenge unfolded, prompting the state’s appeal to the Eighth Circuit.
Federal District Judge Howard Sachs said at the time of his ruling last year that Planned Parenthood and the ACLU would likely succeed in their lawsuit alleging that the law is unconstitutional. Similar laws have been repealed in North Dakota and Iowa.
Most of the discussion at the September hearing centered on the provision that bans abortions because the fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Missouri Attorney General John Sauer cited an “epidemic of abortions targeting children with Down syndrome for elimination solely because of their disability.”
Planned Parenthood attorney Claudia Hammerman argued at the time that four decades of Supreme Court precedent “makes it clear that this is unconstitutional.” He said doctors will not risk losing their medical license for aborting a fetus with Down syndrome, regardless of whether the condition was the reason the woman requested the procedure.
In 2021, several states passed laws seeking to ban abortions based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The governors of Arizona and South Dakota recently enacted such bills, and similar measures are pending in North Carolina and Texas. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court said Ohio could begin implementing a 2017 law that has been on hold.
Missouri is also among several conservative states in recent years that have passed abortion restrictions in hopes that the increasingly conservative Supreme Court will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a national right to abortion.
Last month, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of a case on whether states can ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb. Experts say the case could drastically alter nearly 50 years of abortion rights rulings. Three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump were part of a conservative majority agreeing to hear the case.