Judge expected to rule Tuesday on Missouri’s strict new abortion law

Planned Parenthood clinic
An abortion opponent’s sign outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis.
(Whitney Curtis / For The Times)

A federal judge said he would issue a ruling Tuesday that would determine whether Missouri’s new law banning abortions at or after eight weeks of pregnancy would take effect as scheduled this week.

During a court hearing Monday, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union asked U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the law from taking effect Wednesday until a legal challenge against it is decided.

Sachs told attorneys he had a draft of his ruling ready but that he wanted to consider Monday’s arguments before issuing it on Tuesday. He did not indicate how he would rule.


Claudia Hammerman, an attorney for Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that other abortion-related rulings from courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court, made it clear the bans are unconstitutional because they address abortions before the fetus is considered viable outside the womb, which can be from 24 to 28 weeks.

“Every single court has held that banning abortions based on gestational age is unconstitutional,” Hammerman said. “That is the only legally relevant issue.”

Missouri Solicitor Gen. John Sauer argued that most abortions were performed in the state before eight weeks.

Much of his argument centered on whether Planned Parenthood and the ACLU had legal standing to oppose the law. He argued only patients had the constitutional right to file lawsuits opposing abortion laws because their rights were potentially being violated, while Planned Parenthood and the ACLU had only a financial interest in allowing abortions.

The Missouri law in question also includes an outright ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergencies, but that would take effect only if the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide is overturned.

Missouri already has some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion regulations. Just one clinic in the state performs abortions.