TIMELINE: Events that led to abortion lawsuit against State of Missouri


MISSOURI – Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the ACLU of Missouri, and a law firm based in new york city that successfully fought for gay marriage, are now suing the state of Missouri in attempt to block the legislation that bans abortions after eight weeks. The complaint was filed Tuesday evening.

Timeline: How did it get to this point?

May 15: Missouri preps for a vote on “Heartbeat Bill”

  • A bill to criminalize abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat moved to the Missouri Senate floor.
  • The bill already passed a vote in the Missouri house.
  • The Missouri “heartbeat bill” would make it illegal to have an abortion after six weeks, following conception.
  • If passed, HB 126 would criminalize abortion except in cases of a medical emergency.
  • If the bill passes, Missouri will join seven states in the U.S. That also have passed strict anti-abortion bills.

May 17: Missouri lawmakers passed HB 126

  • Senate lawmakers compromise to change the language of the bill to eight weeks, instead of six.
  • Missouri lawmakers passed what could be called the most controversial bill of the session.
  • The bill is HB 126, also known as the “Stand for the Unborn Act,” and the “heartbeat” bill.
  • Governor Mike Parson said in a press conference he will be signing the bill “in the near future.”
  • Governor Parson also said he expects challenges to the bill.

May 21: Missouri governor signs bill banning abortions at 8 weeks

  • Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill that bans abortions on or beyond the eighth week of pregnancy without exceptions for cases of rape or incest, making it among the most restrictive abortion policies in the nation.
  • Under the law that comes into force August 28, doctors who violate the eight-week cutoff could face five to 15 years in prison. A legal challenge is expected, although it’s unclear when that might occur.

May 30: Missouri’s only abortion clinic battles in court to keep license

  • Planned Parenthood went to court to try to get a temporary restraining order to allow its St. Louis facility, the only abortion clinic in the state, to keep providing abortions. Missouri’s health department has raised concerns about patient care and legal issues at the clinic.

June 1: Judge rules Missouri abortion clinic to stay

  • A judge in St. Louis granted the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri a temporary license renewal to keep performing abortions.
  • Planned Parenthood will seek a more permanent solution to continue providing abortions until both the clinic and the state can come to an understanding.

June 4: Missouri’s last abortion clinic fight to keep its license

  • Attorneys for the State of Missouri subpoenaed physicians from the state’s only abortion clinic amid a legal fight over the facility’s license.
  • A St. Louis judge will see whether the doctors should be forced to testify during a court hearing being held June 4.
  • Missouri is demanding answers from the physicians in the midst of a lawsuit over the St. Louis Planned Parenthood license.
  • Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer issued an order prohibiting Missouri from allowing the license to lapse.

June 4: Judge sides with planned parenthood, nixing state’s request for physician interviews

  • A St. Louis circuit judge sided with Planned Parenthood granting the clinic a preliminary injunction and ruling that the testimony of non-employees was an “undue burden” and the state’s subpoena to interview them “should be quashed.” The testimonies are the lynchpin of an impasse between Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, which operates Missouri’s last abortion clinic, and the state health officials, as first reported by CBS news.
  • The judge also issued planned parenthood a preliminary injunction which will allow the clinic to perform abortions without the state’s license. If the clinic had lost its license, Missouri would have become the first state to not have a legal abortion clinic since Roe V Wade was decided in 1973.

Jul 9: ACLU to collect signatures in an attempt to reverse Missouri abortion law

  • A court ordered Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to approve the referendum application to put the new abortion law banning abortions after 8 weeks, up to a public vote in 2020.
  • The ACLU of Missouri, who sent in the application, needs over one hundred thousand signatures. To put that in perspective, that’s about two-thirds of Springfield’s population.
  • In Missouri, for a veto referendum, the ACLU will need to collect a certain number of signatures in each congressional district to get the measure on the ballot next year.
  • Now, Ashcroft will need to approve the application and people wishing to collect signatures will be able to start.

July 30: Planned Parenthood and ACLU suing over Missouri abortion law

  • Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop a Missouri law that bans abortions beyond the eighth week of pregnancy from taking effect August 28.
  • Lawyers for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services of St. Louis argued in the lawsuit that the bill signed by Governor Mike Parson in May is unconstitutional.

What HB 126 entails

HB 126 would allow the state to charge any abortion provider who performs an abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy. That provider could then be a felon and could face up to 15 years in prison.

If the courts don’t uphold the eight-week ban, the bill includes a series of less- restrictive bans. Those range from 14 weeks to 24 weeks.

There’s also an outright ban on abortion that would only take effect if Roe V. Wade is overturned. That does include an exception for medical emergencies.

Right now, the legislation that bans abortions after eight weeks is set to take effect in less than a month, on August 28th.

Latest on ACLU Petitions

Right now the ACLU is putting pressure on the Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to process to reverse the anti-abortion bill petitions in order to get the issue on a ballot next year.

The ACLU will need to collect more than one hundred thousand signatures by August 28.

The Executive Director of Missouri’s ACLU said he’s concerned Ashcroft will wait so long to process the petitions, it will be impossible to meet the deadline.

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State said Ashcroft’s office is following the process correctly.

Planned Parenthood in St. Louis

The State Health Department denied the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic’s license to perform abortions.

The reason for that was health concerns, including three failed abortions that required additional surgeries.

Planned Parenthood sued the Missouri health department and senior services in May and now the clinic is allowed to stay open and continue performing abortions at least until October, when the next hearing is scheduled.

The lawsuit against the state of Missouri

Lawyers for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood argue the bill signed by Missouri Governor Mike Parson in May is unconstitutional. Until the lawsuit is decided, the organizations are attempting to get a court to order a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from going into effect at the end of August.

The law approved by the Missouri legislature on the last day of the 2019 session does not include exceptions for rape and incest and bans abortions sought based on race sex or the potential for down syndrome. The suit challenges every provision in the legislation.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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