Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, Inc. v. Parson, No. 19-2882 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting preliminary injunctions enjoining enforcement of the Gestational Age Provisions and the Down Syndrome Provision of Missouri House Bill 126. The Gestational Age Provision provides, in relevant part, that "no abortion shall be performed or induced upon a woman at eight weeks gestational age or later, except in cases of medical emergency." The Down Syndrome Provision prohibits abortions if the provider "knows that the woman is seeking the abortion solely because of a prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down [s]yndrome or the potential of Down [s]yndrome in an unborn child."
As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that RHS has standing because the provisions at issue directly target physician conduct and put physicians at risk of civil and criminal sanctions. The court concluded that the Gestational Age Provisions do not merely have "the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion" before viability. Rather, the Gestational Age Provisions are bans, and the court agreed with the district court that RHS is likely to succeed on the merits of this claim. The court also concluded that, unlike a regulation, the Down Syndrome Provision does not set a condition that—upon compliance—makes the performance of a pre-viability abortion lawful, thus preserving the constitutional right to elect the procedure. Rather, it bans access to an abortion entirely. Therefore, RHS is likely to succeed on the merits of its challenge to the Down Syndrome Provision. The court concluded that the remaining Dataphase factors - irreparable harm, balance of hardships and public interest - also supported the grant of the preliminary injunction.