Down syndrome issue at center of Missouri abortion law case

Sep 20, 2021, 8:52 PM | Updated: Sep 21, 2021, 8:07 pm
FILE - In this June 4, 2019, file photo, anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenth...

FILE - In this June 4, 2019, file photo, anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. A federal appeals court on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, will consider whether Missouri can implement a sweeping law aimed at limiting abortions. The law adopted in 2019 would ban abortions at or around the eighth week of pregnancy. It also would prohibit abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

A federal appeals court is deciding the fate of a Missouri law that puts sweeping restrictions on abortions, and a focal point of oral arguments on Tuesday was a provision prohibiting abortions based solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis.

The law adopted in 2019 would ban abortions at the eighth week of pregnancy. The full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis isn’t expected to rule for several weeks. In June, a three-judge 8th Circuit panel upheld an injunction from U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs prohibiting Missouri from enforcing the law’s provisions, but the full court decided to hear the case.

Missouri Solicitor General John Sauer cited high rates of abortions for fetuses with Down syndrome and noted that in some countries, those abortion rates are above 90%.

“This is the crisis against which Missouri enacted its Down syndrome provision that is before the court today,” Sauer said.

The law prohibits abortions if Down syndrome is the sole reason for the procedure. But Planned Parenthood Federation of America attorney Susan Lambiase said doctors at Missouri’s only abortion clinic, Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis, will likely avoid any abortions involving fetuses with Down syndrome for fear of the consequences. Those consequences potentially include loss of a doctor’s medical license, and the loss of the clinic’s license.

“You’re asking the doctors to take a risk that they cannot take,” Lambiase said.

Sachs said in his 2020 ruling that he thought Planned Parenthood and the ACLU would likely succeed in their lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional. Similar laws have been struck down in North Dakota and Iowa.

Legislators who helped draft the Missouri law said it was meant to withstand court challenges, especially challenges to the timing of the ban. The law included a provision stating that if the eight-week ban was struck down, a series of less-restrictive abortion limits would kick in at 14, 18 or 20 weeks. But courts have blocked enforcement of all of those limits thus far.

The measure also includes exceptions for medical emergencies, such as when there is a risk of death or permanent physical injuries to “a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” But women who become pregnant after being raped or subjected to incest will not be allowed to abort after eight weeks. Women who terminate their pregnancies cannot be prosecuted under the law.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt wants the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the case. In a court filing in July, Schmitt, a Republican, said the Supreme Court should consider whether Missouri’s restrictions are “reasonable regulations on abortion.”

Schmitt also said the high court should use the case to decide whether to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established a nationwide right to abortion at any point before a fetus can survive outside the womb, which is roughly around the 24th week.

The appeals court case over the Missouri law comes weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a Texas law that bans abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.

The Supreme Court also has agreed to consider allowing the enforcement of a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which could dramatically alter nearly 50 years of court precedent on abortion rights.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

US religious group says 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A group of 17 U.S. missionaries including children was kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, according to a voice message sent to various religious missions by an organization with direct knowledge of the incident. The missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage, according to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History

Today in History Today is Sunday, Oct. 17, the 290th day of 2021. There are 75 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 17, 1777, British forces under Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered to American troops in Saratoga, New York, in a turning point of the Revolutionary War. On this date: In […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct 7, 2021 file photo, Workers in protective suits clean the contaminated...
Associated Press

Ship owner, operator of interest in California oil spill

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has designated the Mediterranean Shipping Company and others as parties of interest in an investigation into a vessel that was determined to be the source of an offshore pipeline leak in Southern California. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board marine casualty investigators boarded a container […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021 file photo, Afghans inspect damage of Ahmadi family house afte...
Associated Press

US vows to pay relatives of Afghans killed in drone strike

The U.S. Defense Department said Friday that it is committed to offering condolence payments to relatives of the 10 people who were killed in an errant U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August.
1 day ago
In this photo taken from video footage released by Roscosmos Space Agency, actress Yulia Peresild s...
Associated Press

Russian filmmakers land after shoot aboard space station

MOSCOW (AP) — A Soyuz space capsule carrying a cosmonaut and two Russian filmmakers has landed after a 3 1/2-hour trip from the International Space Station. The capsule, descending under a red-and-white striped parachute after entering Earth’s atmosphere, landed upright in the steppes of Kazakhstan on schedule at 0435 GMT Sunday with Oleg Novitskiy, Yulia […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this June 10, 2020 file photo, cattle occupy a feedlot in Columbus, Neb. Frustrated with ...
Associated Press

Unhappy with prices, ranchers look to build own meat plants

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Like other ranchers across the country, Rusty Kemp for years grumbled about rock-bottom prices paid for the cattle he raised in central Nebraska, even as the cost of beef at grocery stores kept climbing. He and his neighbors blamed it on consolidation in the beef industry stretching back to the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
...
PNC Bank

How one organization supports early childhood literacy for the most vulnerable

Nearly two out of every three children in low-income communities don’t own a single children’s book, a fact that ultimately could have profound impacts even before entering kindergarten, according to Arizona nonprofit Southwest Human Development.
...
Chris Kennedy

My Special Aflac Duck® taking flight in Arizona

For more than 65 years, Aflac has had the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to help provide peace of mind to individuals who have our supplemental insurance policies.
Down syndrome issue at center of Missouri abortion law case