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Missouri abortion ban blocked, but some HB 126 provisions implemented

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Less than a day before Missouri’s restrictive abortion law — banning the procedure after eight weeks — was set to go into effect, a federal judge hit pause. But still, certain provisions of HB 126 remained intact and were able to be implemented on Aug. 28 as planned. 

HB 126, championed by Republican Rep. Nick Schroer, sought to ban abortions after eight weeks. It also included “nestled” components placing restrictions at 14, 18, and 20 weeks, designed to withstand court challenges. 

U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs placed a temporary restraining order on the bans Tuesday, siding with Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. He said even the 20-week restriction would cause “significant interference with plaintiffs’ service and the rights of its prospective patients, so it should be considered quite adequate as harm to justify immediate relief from the defective provisions of House Bill 126.” 

But Sachs left intact — at least for now — another provision challenged by those opposed to HB 126: a so-called “reason ban” prohibiting abortions on the basis of sex, race, or a diagnosis of Down syndrome. He said there was no significant data to show whether “the inability to schedule ‘Down syndrome abortions’ would be likely to interfere with the abortion rights of real-life women.”

Despite being a part of the federal lawsuit, it was not part of the injunction; thus, the provision went into effect on Aug. 28. 

Additionally, HB 126 included an emergency clause which was implemented immediately upon Gov. Mike Parson signing the bill in May. The clause required both parents of a minor to be notified should she seek an abortion. 

Other provisions in HB 126 which went into effect Wednesday included: 

  • An increase in medical malpractice coverage for physicians providing abortion services 
  • Stipulation that Missourians referred for an abortion procedure out of state must comply with the same informed consent standards set by Missouri 
  • An increase in tax credits for pregnancy resource centers 

HB 126 also bans abortions outright should the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade be overturned. That remained in place. 

“With 90 percent of House Bill 126 becoming law today, Missouri has made clear to the nation that we stand for the unborn; we stand for life,” Schroer told The Missouri Times. “While we patiently await Judge Sachs’ ruling on the other 10 percent of this bill, and ultimately the ruling of the 8th Circuit Appellate Court thereafter, I am proud that the vast majority of HB 126, now law, will protect mothers, fathers, and babies in this great state starting today.”

Those opposed to the law applauded the judge’s decision but maintained “the fight is not over.” 

“There are more legal challenges [and] hurdles ahead,” Sen. Jill Schupp, a Democrat, told The Missouri Times. “In the meantime, we must start electing people who trust women. There are special elections in November of this year and a big election next year. We have work to do.” 

Aug. 28 was the date for passed legislation to go into effect in Missouri.