A federal judge today temporarily blocked enforcement of Missouriís new law that would criminalize a type of abortion. The ban applies to abortions performed after 6 weeks of gestation, though the billís proponents claim it only applies to late-term abortions. U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wrightís order lasts for 10 days, when a trial date will be set in a lawsuit filed earlier today by Planned Parenthood and a Missouri physician challenging the law. The law went into effect Thursday night after the Senate voted to override Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahanís veto. The legislative action prompted Planned Parenthood, Missouriís largest abortion provider, to suspend performing abortions in the state. Its lawsuit today said the law is "so broadly and vaguely worded as to put plaintiffs at risk of criminal prosecution for virtually any abortion they perform, regardless of the stage of pregnancy." Similar attempts at banning types of abortion procedures have been found unconstitutional in 19 of the 20 states where they have been challenged. The law is a "direct attack" on the Supreme Courtís Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide, said Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Missouri "has outlawed virtually all abortion procedures," she said.
Media Resources: New York Times - September 17, 1999