Missouri DHSS posts guidance regarding new abortion law
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Nearly three weeks after Missouri’s “trigger law” prohibiting abortion went into effect, the state is trying to clarify its position on some points of the law.
There has been some confusion over what the law allows regarding medical emergencies and contraception.
Health care providers, facilities, lawmakers and women have all spoken out.
Shortly after the “trigger law” went into effect, St. Luke’s Health System in Kansas City released a statement that its Missouri hospitals would not provide emergency contraception. It quickly reinstated the service after the Missouri Attorney General’s office released information that the “law does not prohibit the use or provision of Plan B, or contraception.”
Since the Supreme Court ruling, doctors and hospitals have asked the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) for clarification regarding interpreting the new abortion law in Missouri. On Wednesday, the department responded with a one-page, four-question document: Regulation of Missouri Abortion Facilities — Frequently Asked Questions.
In the document, the DHSS says while the department regulates abortion facilities to ensure patient safety, the enforcement of the criminal provision are up to prosecutors and Missouri Attorney General’s office.
It goes on to say that the DHSS cannot provide legal advice to providers or facilities. It also links the legal definition of a “medical emergency” and “reasonable medical judgment.”
Jeffrey S. Howell, the executive vice president of the Missouri State Medical Association, said he’s not surprised by the department’s action.
“It’s not DHSS’ job to interpret that law,” said Howell. “That’s a job for the courts. Or, the legislature could step in and clear this up in 2023.”
Earlier this week, Missouri Democratic lawmakers sent an open letter to Governor Mike Parson asking for a special session to clarify the law.
“Missouri needs to clarify its laws to save lives, to protect access to birth control, and allow doctors to provide necessary medical care,” said Missouri State Senator Lauren Arthur. She is a Democrat representing District 17, which includes Kansas City.
The governor himself has conceded there needs to be clarity on some issues.
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