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Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Missouri law restricts young women's access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes.

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18.

What is required - parental consent or parental notice?  Consent.

Who must provide consent?  One parent.

Are there other trusted adults who may provide consent instead?  No.

What is the process for obtaining consent?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion unless the attending physician secures the written consent of one parent.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman's health is threatened?  Yes, but only if the attending physician determines that a medical emergency exists, defined as a medical condition that necessitates immediate abortion care, for which a delay will create "serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function."  

May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances?  Yes, the young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.

If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process?  She must secure a court order stating either that she is granted majority rights for the purpose of consenting to the abortion or that an abortion is in her best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  Yes.  Under a statute enacted in 2005, anyone who "cause[s], aid[s], or assist[s]" a young woman to have an abortion without parental consent may be liable to the young woman and her parents.  This liability applies even if the young woman complies with all laws in the state where she receives abortion care.  The Missouri Supreme Court determined in May 2007 that the terms "aid or assist" as used in this statute do not apply to speech or expressive conduct, and thus do not prohibit the provision of abortion information or counseling. Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri v. Nixon, 220 S.W.3d 732 (Mo. 2007).

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  Yes.  In September 2005, a federal district court issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits the enforcement of the statute enacted in 2005.  Springfield Healthcare Center v. Nixon, No. 05-4296-CV-C-NKL (W.D. Mo. Sept. 16, 2005).  In October 2005, the court dismissed the case, and dissolved the temporary restraining order after the clinic abruptly closed.  Springfield Healthcare Center v. Nixon, No. 05-4296-CV-C-NKL (W.D. Mo. Oct. 25, 2005).  In November 2005, a state court issued an injunction to prohibit the enforcement of this statute.  The injunction also prohibited the state from investigating or acting on the provisions of the statute.  Although the state court determined that the law could be interpreted in such a way that would make it constitutional, the court lacked the confidence to make this determination conclusively.  Therefore, the state court issued the injunction, which remained in place until May 2007, when the Missouri Supreme Court determined that when narrowly construed, the statute is not unconstitutional.  Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri v. Nixon, No. 0516-CV25949 (Mo. Cir. Ct. Jackson County Nov. 17, 2005); Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri v. Nixon, 220  S.W.3d 732 (Mo. 2007).

Other information about the law:  The U.S. Supreme Court held that a previous version of this law was constitutional.  Planned Parenthood Ass'n of Kansas City, Mo. v. Ashcroft, 462 U.S. 476 (1983).

Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 188.028 (Enacted 1979; Last Amended 1986), .015, .075 (Enacted 1974; Last Amended 2011), .250 (Enacted 2005).

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