Sen. Mike Cunningham’s Legislative Column for Sept. 21, 2018

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion vacating a preliminary injunction, which was issued by the United States Western District Court of Missouri in May 2017. The injunction prohibited the enforcement of state laws and state regulations requiring physicians who perform abortions to have hospital privileges. Now that the injunction has been vacated, state agencies will immediately begin enforcing the hospital privileges and physical plant requirements for abortion facilities.

I am pleased the courts upheld this legislation, which the Legislature worked hard to craft and pass during a special session last year. For nearly 50 days, during the summer of 2017, the Missouri General Assembly worked to perfect and pass Senate Bill 5. This legislation strengthens and improves Missouri law in nine areas:

  • It requires annual and unannounced inspections of abortion clinics.
  • It gives the attorney general jurisdiction to enforce Missouri abortion laws.
  • It protects religious liberties and the First Amendment by preempting St. Louis City’s “Abortion Sanctuary City” ordinance.
  • It requires chemical abortions to have a complication plan.
  • It requires consent for medical procedures and requires the physician to inform the patient of potential risks at least 72 hours in advance.
  • It modifies the definition of an ambulatory surgical center and creates a new definition of abortion facilities. The language includes provisions relating to infection control, licensure standards, staff training and whistleblower protection. It also requires that physicians who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
  • This act creates a crime for interfering with medical assistance. If an abortion clinic knowingly attempts to prevent medical personnel from providing medical assistance, in accordance with all applicable standards of care, they will have committed a Class A misdemeanor.
  • It requires that all tissue removed be examined by a pathologist within 72 hours to ensure that no tissue was accidentally left in the mother.
  • Finally, it provides whistleblower protection to employees of an abortion facility, or any facility involved in abortion, who disclose information concerning violations of the law.

As challenges will certainly continue regarding this ruling, I believe this is a true win for all


As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.