"Abortion Access" and "I heart Repro Rights" signs in front of Supreme Court

Comprehensive Health v. Hawley

Location: Missouri
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: October 16, 2017

What's at Stake

The ACLU and the ACLU of Missouri joined with Planned Parenthood to challenge the latest abortion restriction adopted in Missouri: a mandate that at least 72 hours before an abortion, a woman must receive certain state-scripted information , in person, from the physician who will provide her medical care. This is information already provided to all abortion patients by qualified medical professionals without this duplicative requirement, which is inconsistent with modern medical practice.

This “same-physician requirement” would bar abortions for many women and delay them for virtually all others, likely for weeks. Though abortion is a very safe medical procedure, delay increases risk, and thus this law harms women’s health.

The challengers seek an emergency order to block this law before it takes effect, and have submitted evidence to the court showing how difficult it would be to comply with this “same-physician requirement.” When women schedule their first, informational appointment with a clinic, the clinic cannot know who may later perform an abortion procedure. Indeed, in many instances, the woman will have more than one option of abortion method and will not have chosen among those methods before her first appointment.

This new requirement would further complicate and constrain a woman’s already limited access to abortion in Missouri, where there are no full-time providers, largely because it is such a hostile environment for abortion providers. Hence, physician coverage occurs through a complex patchwork of schedules drawing on a handful of in-state and out-of-state doctors, all with other jobs, who can treat Missouri patients only in limited, rotating time slots each month.

The suit challenges the “same-physician requirement” as an infringement of physicians’ and patients’ rights under the Missouri Constitution. It also asserts that the legislature violated the Missouri Constitution’s ”original purpose” rule. That is because the Legislature added this requirement, along with a grab-bag of different abortion restrictions, as amendments to a bill with a single, much more limited purpose, unrelated to the “same-physician requirement.”

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