Eighth Circuit Blocks Missouri Abortion Law

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld an injunction blocking portions of Missouri's 2019 pro-life law. HB 126 would, among other things, ban abortions at eight weeks gestation, with further bans at 14, 18, and 20 weeks if prior bans were found unconstitutional. The bill would also ban abortions conducted solely because the unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. The majority found that both the gestational age and Down syndrome provisions banned abortions prior to viability and were "categorically unconstitutional" under current Supreme Court precedent. However, one judge, David Stras, dissented on affirming the injunction on the Down syndrome provision, calling it a regulation instead of an outright ban.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has vowed to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. "My son Stephen has shown me the inherent beauty and dignity in all life, especially those with special needs," Schmitt said in a statement. "While we're disappointed in the Eighth Circuit's decision, their decision does provide an avenue for this case to be heard by the Supreme Court, and we plan to seek review in the Supreme Court. I have never and will never stop fighting to ensure that all life is protected."

The ruling by the Eighth Circuit is in line with its previous ruling on a similar case in Arkansas. However, two of the three judges in that case issued concurring opinions restating their view that the Supreme Court should reconsider the viability standard in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. However, the Sixth Circuit in April upheld Ohio's Down syndrome abortion ban. With this split between the circuit courts and the Supreme Court agreeing to hear a case on Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban in its October term, there is hope that the high court ultimately reverses or limits its previous rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

June 15, 2021 - 12:45pm
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