Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit against the state of Missouri to challenge its eight-week abortion ban.
The law was signed in May and is set to take effect August 28. The law would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected in the first weeks of pregnancy, and it does not make any exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
Abortion access is already challening in Missouri. Women who wish to have an abortion have to undergo a 72-hour waiting period and receive state-mandated counseling to discourage them from getting the procedure. Other regulations have closed all but one clinic in the state.
“If you’re a person in rural Missouri, the chance that you’ll be able to access abortion care is dramatically less than someone in another area,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood for the St. Louis Region.
Missouri’s legislation additionally includes a trigger law, which would outlaw abortion if “Roe v. Wade” is overturned. This 1973 landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide and established the age of viability (when a fetus is able to survive outside the uterus) at 24 weeks. If a court finds the eight-week ban invalid, a ban on abortion at 14, 18 or 20 weeks, could go into effect
The lawsuit claims the the law “will irreparably harm Plaintiffs and their patients by severely restricting access to pre-viability abortion care, preventing the vast majority of patients from obtaining the constitutionally protected medical care they seek.”
“Many women don’t even know that they are aware of their pregnancy, or may have a challenge getting into a clinic for eight weeks,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, the newly-appointed acting president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We think that is wrong, we think it is illegal and so we are fighting, you know, we are fighting.”