Creates Obstacle Course for Over a Thousand Women a Year
New York, NY-Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri against a new law that will force the only abortion clinic in southwest Missouri to stop providing abortions. The law requires physicians performing abortion procedures to obtain privileges at a local hospital. Because the doctor in Springfield Healthcare Center Inc. does not have these privileges and it is unclear when he will receive them, the facility may have to shut down its abortion services.
“The Missouri legislature is singling out doctors who perform abortions for unnecessary and harassing regulations. As a result, hundreds of women will lose reasonable access to abortion. It’s not only unfair, it creates an obstacle course for those women who are simply trying to plan their families,” said Janet Crepps of the Center for Reproductive Rights, lead attorney in the case.
Springfield Healthcare Center is licensed as an ambulatory surgical facility and performs 1,500 abortions a year. Current Missouri law requires that physicians at all ambulatory surgical facilities have admitting privileges at a local hospital or the facility maintain a written agreement with a hospital to transfer patients when it is needed. Springfield Healthcare has agreements with two local hospitals.
But according to the lawsuit, the new law imposes the additional and unnecessary requirement that says the facility’s doctor must have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles. Abortions are the only procedure performed at ambulatory surgical facilities in Missouri that are subject to this additional requirement. Yet, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-partisan research organization, abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women.
In addition, women in the southwest part of the state will be forced to travel six to eight hours roundtrip to obtain an abortion at the nearest clinic in Columbia, Missouri. As the suit claims, such a trip will be particularly burdensome for women with limited financial resources and childcare needs, women without access to transportation, and women in abusive relationships.
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed the legislation today, after calling a special legislative session specifically intended to pass this anti-choice bill. In response, the Center for Reproductive Rights immediately filed the lawsuit on behalf of Springfield Healthcare Center, asking the court to stop enforcement of the law.
Springfield Healthcare is also challenging a requirement that makes it illegal to help a minor obtain an abortion in another state unless the minor has received consent from her parents or approval from a Missouri judge. For example, clinics cannot provide teens with any information about abortion services in other states and a grandmother can be jailed if she loans her granddaughter the money to travel to Kansas for an abortion.
Both provisions in the Missouri law are part of a nationwide anti-choice agenda to limit or eliminate women’s access to abortion and to prevent teenagers from receiving reproductive health care.
Read more about the Center’s Lawsuit >>