JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Mike Parson's emergency regulations take effect Wednesday, which calls for increased inspections on abortion providers from public health officials.

Regulations include:

  • Abortion providers to perform pelvic exams on a patient 72 hours before the abortion if medically necessary
  • Providers must report a failed abortion to a pathology lab within 24 hours of a failed abortion
  • Health care facilities must make sure all their surgical tools are sterilized
  • Physicians are required to participate in yearly fire drill 

Health departments must report rule violations to the Medicaid Audit and Compliance Unit, which decides the allotted amount of money a facility gets from Medicaid. 

The restrictions mean there are more regulations on abortion providers than there were before.

"The threat here is if abortion providers don't comply with every jot and tittle of health and safety regulations, and then they fail an inspection, they may end up losing their Medicaid funding for entirely unrelated services," University of Missouri Associate Law Professor Thomas B. Bennett said.

A decrease in funding for health care clinics that provide abortion could lead to the facilities being shut down. Bennett said the goal of the decrease in funding was to reduce the amount of money that clinics actually end up receiving.

These regulations are not new.

The 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey upheld the constitutional right to have an abortion under Roe v. Wade but added addition restrictions to the law, including requiring informed consent of the abortion 24 hours before the procedure. Under the case, a state can only restrict abortions up to providing for the health and safety of the person getting the abortion.

"Lots of the battles in court have been over whether these rules really do serve the interest in trying to protect the health and safety of a pregnant person, or rather, our sort of backdoor attempts to restrict access to abortion," Bennett said.

Bennett said he expects a similar type of fight over the new rules.

Missouri's proposed abortion law that bans abortions after eight weeks is still being debated in court. In a few months, the courts could decide whether or not to formally overwrite Casey and make abortion illegal after eight weeks.

"I expect there will be ongoing court challenges, and I think there will be ongoing attempts to enforce these rules, and that may spin off yet more legal disputes," Bennett said. "But ultimately, I think the rules that have been put in place here are kind of a holding pattern for what the Supreme Court is going to do in the next several months or years."

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