This case is a challenge to a new TRAP law requiring first trimester abortion providers (including providers of only medication abortions) to become licensed as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and to meet regulations for ASCs that perform abortions.
Filing date: 08/29/07
Plaintiff(s): , Planned Parenthood
Center Attorney(s): , Suzanne Stolz, Jennifer Mondino, and Bonnie Scott Jones
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: , Theresa Woody, The Woody Law Firm (local counsel)
Summary: In this case, CRR represents Dr. Allen Palmer, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has provided abortions in his current medical office for over 30 years, in a challenge to a Missouri “TRAP” law that would close his medical practice. The term “TRAP” stands for “targeted regulation of abortion providers,” and it refers to laws that target the medical practices of doctors who provide abortions, and impose on them burdensome requirements which are different and more stringent than the legal requirements imposed on other medical practices. These laws increase the costs of abortion and hinder physicians from providing abortion services.
In 2007, Missouri amended its TRAP law to require first trimester abortion providers (including providers of only medication abortions) to become licensed as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). Missouri’s law is the first TRAP law in the country to require first-trimester abortion providers to become licensed as ASCs. Moreover, despite the fact that the abortion facility regulations contain separate sets of construction requirements for newly constructed facilities and for existing facilities, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is requiring that existing abortion providers newly subject to licensing under the amended TRAP law must meet the physical construction requirements for new facilities, rather than the “grandfather” standards for existing facilities. The new construction standards would require a total renovation of Dr. Palmer’s office. If those new construction standards are applied to existing abortion providers, Dr. Palmer will likely be forced to close his practice permanently, and two of the other three existing clinics in Missouri may be forced to cease providing abortions, at least temporarily.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri initiated this federal lawsuit against the amended TRAP law on behalf of its clinics, and the CRR intervened in the suit on behalf of Dr. Palmer. On September 24, 2007, the federal court granted us a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the new law, and it instructed the parties to undertake negotiations regarding possible waivers that might be granted by the Department of Health on some of the most onerous requirements. Those negotiations have come to a stand-still for Dr. Palmer, and we are moving forward with the litigation. , In July 2010, CRR and Planned Parenthood reached a settlement agreement with Missouri Department of Health and dismissed this lawsuit. , Under the settlement, Dr. Palmer is not required to meet the extremely costly and burdensome regulations for newly constructed facilities. , Instead, Dr. Palmer will be permitted to operate as a licensed abortion facility in the same facility where he has provided safe medical care for over the past 30 years.
CRR has also settled the companion case in state court on behalf of Dr. Palmer and against the Department of Health, requesting that the state court “grandfather” Dr. Palmer’ facility with respect to construction requirements, as the Department has consistently done with other newly-regulated health care facilities.