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Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains v. Williams

Filed On

Nov 30, 2016

Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit on behalf of several abortion providers challenging ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements and admitting privileges requirements in Missouri.

Current law in Missouri requires that certain abortion facilities be licensed as an ambulatory surgical center (ASC) and adhere to strict physical facility requirements regarding size of procedure rooms, patient corridors, HVAC systems, and finishes for ceilings, walls, and floors. The regulatory scheme for ASCs requires that there must be a “current working agreement with at least one licensed hospital in the community in which the ambulatory surgical center is located, guaranteeing the transfer and admittance of patients for emergency treatment.” (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 197.215(2).) Another licensing requirement mandates that abortion providers have staff privileges at a hospital within 15 minutes’ travel time from the facility or a working arrangement between the facility and a hospital within 15 minutes’ travel time from the facility. (Mo. Code. Regs. Ann. tit. 19 § 30-30.060(1)(c)4.)

In addition, Missouri law makes it a crime for a physician to provide an abortion without clinical privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of the location at which the abortion is performed.

In their Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that they do not meet the physical facility requirements and are unable to obtain the requisite staff privileges or written transfer agreements with a local hospital.  They further allege that the hospital relationship requirements and ASC requirements are medically unnecessary and impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose abortion.


On April 19, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Howard F. Sachs, issued a ruling blocking enforcement of the law, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. On May 2, 2017, Judge Sachs issued an order effectuating the April 19 ruling and detailing the parameters of the preliminary injunction. On September 10, 2018, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the preliminary injunction, noting that the district court had failed to make adequate findings about safety of abortion in Missouri.

On February 22, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Brian C. Wimes denied Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction blocking the admitting privileges requirement as it applies to a clinic in Columbia, Missouri that only performs surgical abortions, ruling that Plaintiffs did not demonstrate that the admitting privileges requirement would operate as a substantial obstacle to a woman’s choice to undergo an abortion.


**last updated March 27, 2019