North America

Missouri's eight-week abortion ban blocked by US judge

Protests in support of abortion rights have been taking place across the US. Source: AAP

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Missouri's eight-week abortion ban the day before it was to go into effect as challenges make their way through court.

A new ban on abortions at or after eight weeks of pregnancy in the US state of Missouri will not take effect after a federal judge temporarily blocked it from being implemented.

US District Judge Howard Sachs put a pause on the law as a legal challenge against it plays out in court.

The law was to take effect on Wednesday

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed the lawsuit, arguing it is unconstitutional and goes against the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court Roe v Wade ruling that legalised abortion nationwide.

The Missouri state flag flies outside of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
The Missouri state flag flies outside of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The law includes exceptions for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.

If courts do not uphold the eight-week ban, the measure includes a series of less-restrictive bans ranging from 14 weeks up to 20 weeks.

The policy also bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential for Down syndrome.

Similar laws have been struck down in North Dakota and Iowa.

Attorneys for the state can appeal the judge's ruling.

They argue courts have allowed limits on abortions based on the gestational age of the foetus.

In court documents, they told the judge the state's goal is "protecting foetal life" as well as protecting women.

During a court hearing on Monday, Missouri Solicitor General John Sauer's argument centred on his contention that Planned Parenthood and the ACLU do not have the standing to challenge the law.

Federal law allows states to prohibit abortions after foetuses are viable outside the womb, which can be from 24 to 28 weeks.

Missouri's law also includes an outright ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergencies but that would take effect only if Roe v Wade is overturned.

Missouri already has some of the nation's most restrictive abortion regulations.

Just one clinic in the state performs them.

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