Missouri abortion law debate focuses on Down syndrome provision


State attorneys focused on a provision preventing abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome as the battle over Missouri’s abortion law continued in federal court on Tuesday.

Attorney General Eric schmittthe office argued the case before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal Tuesday morning, focusing the debate on the bill’s provisions restricting abortions based solely on the diagnosis of Down’s syndrome. Schmitt said the angle was a “relatively new issue in court” and argued that the restriction emphasized that “all life is sacred”.

“We have to ask ourselves who we want to be,” Schmitt told reporters after the hearing. “Do we want to be a nation that inspires women and families to believe that the life of a person with Down’s Syndrome is not worth celebrating? Or do we think that diagnosis shouldn’t be an automatic death sentence and that we shouldn’t be targeting an entire group of people just because they have a certain trait? ”

Schmitt opposed the Missouri legislation to the texan law allowed to take effect last month. This measure allows individuals to sue abortion providers and does not include a section regarding people diagnosed with Down syndrome.

St. Louis Area Family Planning Reproductive Health Services, the only remaining abortion provider in Missouri, initially sued, banning the entry into force of HB 126. Lawyers for the clinic argued that the bill, which would also restrict abortions after eight weeks , constituted a state ban and violated precedents set by the United States Supreme Court.

President and CEO Yamelsie Rodriguez previously said Planned Parenthood would continue the fight and warned of possible “injustice” if the restrictions were to go into effect.

“Today is Texas, tomorrow it could be Missouri,” Rodriguez said. “The dominoes are falling quickly and the consequences will be felt most severely by people of color, low-income people and rural communities.”

Schmitt said he hoped for a quick decision on the case.

HB 126, signed in law by Governor Mike Parson in 2019, included “nested” components imposing additional restrictions at 14, 18 and 20 weeks and did not allow exemptions for survivors of rape or incest. Violation of the measure would be a class B crime.

A federal judge blocked implementation of the bill the day before it came into force in 2019, a decision that has been appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A panel of three judges blocked the law in June, upholding the injunction based on the state’s argument that the language was a ban on abortion.

Schmitt appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court the following month. However, in a rare case, the appeals court granted a new bench hearing on its own initiative, meaning it would hear the case again as a full tribunal.

The fate of abortion across the country hangs in the balance as a pending Mississippi law awaits review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Passing the law, which sought to ban abortions after 15 weeks, would essentially reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade of 1973, which set the standard 24-week window in federal abortion policy.

Missouri officials, including Parson and members of the Missouri congressional delegation, have urged the court side with the Mississippi in this matter and allow states to exercise control over abortion policies.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear the Mississippi case in December.


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