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Mo. 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Likely To Take Effect Without Legal Challenges

Mo. 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Likely To Take Effect Without Legal Challenges

October 7, 2014 — Missouri's lone abortion clinic is not expected to challenge a new state law (HR 1307) that requires a 72-hour mandatory delay before women seeking abortions can obtain the procedure, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The law is scheduled to take effect on Friday (Lieb, AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/5).

The law triples the state's current mandatory delay of 24 hours and does not allow exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Women with medical emergencies are exempt under the 24-hour mandatory delay and will continue to be exempt under the new legislation. The law also includes a provision that will require the state to revert to the 24-hour delay if a court strikes down the 72-hour delay (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/29).

Planned Parenthood, ACLU Unlikely To File Suit

According to the AP/Bee, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have both indicated that they will not file suit because they think they are unlikely to win a legal challenge against the law before it goes into effect.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri President Paula Gianino said, "We've had our national attorneys from all of the leading women's health organizations in the country work with us, and we have a consensus that we do not have a route at this time to go to court and to stop this law from going into effect -- as disappointing and as frustrating as that is."

Similarly, an ACLU attorney said the group, which has before challenged abortion restrictions, does not plan to try to block the law before it takes effect.

However, the groups' officials said they are still open to challenging the law after it takes effect. ACLU attorney Tony Rothert said to do so, the organizations would have to locate a woman who is willing to serve as a plaintiff in the case, such as a woman who became pregnant as the result of rape or incest and was particularly burdened by the mandatory delay.

Meanwhile, Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life, said such delays "have been consistently upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal and state courts" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/5).