MO Supreme Court Upholds Parental Lawsuits After Minor Daughter Abortions

Today, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously upheld a 2005 Missouri law (section 188.250, RSMo, http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/c100-199/1880000250.htm ), which allows parents to sue those who assist their minor daughter to obtain an abortion in violation of Missouri’s parental consent law. The court’s per curium opinion – Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, Inc., et al., v. Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, et al., SC87321 – can be read at http://www.courts.mo.gov/Courts/PubOpinions.nsf/0f87ea4ac0ad4c0186256405005d3b8e/e02b04020a71413a862572ce004c8f70?OpenDocument The Missouri Supreme Court upheld a law 2May07 letting parents sue people who help their teenage daughters get abortions without their consent. The court’s unanimous decision rejected claims by Planned Parenthood that the 2005 law could infringe on their free-speech rights to provide information and counseling about abortions. It also turned down various other constitutional challenges by the organization. The law states that “no person shall intentionally cause, aid, or assist a minor to obtain an abortion without the consent” of a parent or court. Parents and guardians can sue those who violate the law, seeking compensation for emotional injury and punitive damages. A Jackson County judge had expressed “substantial trepidation” while upholding the law in November 2005, and had issued an injunction against enforcing it pending an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office, which defended the law, said it immediately took effect Tuesday as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Planned Parenthood affiliates had argued that the words “aid” and “assist” could be applied broadly to prohibit abortion counseling or the sharing of information. The Supreme Court applied a more narrow interpretation, ruling that those specific things weren’t prohibited and the law did not violate...