officials at the Hope Clinic For Women made immediate changes in the
clinic's policies to comply with a new law limiting abortion in
, an anti-abortion activist said the new law does nothing.
On Thursday, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt signed the Health Endangerment Act.
The law will allow lawsuits against individuals or agencies that assist
minors in obtaining abortions without their parents' or guardians'
requires parental consent for girls 17 and under to obtain abortions.
does not require consent.
"We are complying with
's law on parental consent," said Sally Burgess, executive director
of the Hope Clinic, located in
She said the clinic now asks for identification and requires minors from
to have at least one parent or guardian present.
Burgess said that although it appeared that the legislation was directly
aimed at the Hope Clinic, it will not have a large effect "once we
figure out the logistics."
Burgess said she had heard that the new regulations impacted one girl who
came into the clinic so far, but had not been able to confirm that.
She said the biggest concern was how to help teen-age girls who cannot
talk to their parents about an unwanted pregnancy, or who could face
potential violence if she told her parents.
"We're not sure what we can do to help a teen in that
situation," Burgess said.
Burgess said the clinic was "going to watch this carefully," but
did not plan to take any legal action at this time.
"I don't understand how one state can dictate to another state,"
While the Hope Clinic was not planning legal action, Planned Parenthood of
Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region
have already filed a legal challenge to the new law.
"We are concerned about the health and safety of teens and for all
," said Paula Gianino, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the
St. Louis Region. "Planned Parenthood pledges to do everything we can
through the courts to challenge this law."
The suit was filed in Jackson County, Mo., and seeks an immediate
temporary restraining order to prevent the law from being enforced.
"This unprecedented and dangerous law attempts to impose
's legal restrictions on
teens when they travel outside the state," said Eve Gartner, senior
staff attorney for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The law
threatens health care providers within and outside
who provide accurate medical information and/or safe, legal health care
services to a young person in need. The law violates the Missouri
Constitution and the U.S. Constitution and puts young people at
Angela Michael of Small Victories, a Highland-based anti-abortion group
and one of the more vocal regular protestors at the Hope Clinic, said she
supported the bill, and went to
to testify in behalf of its passage, but believes it will accomplish
"It's useless. It wouldn't be enforced," she said Friday.
"I've been down there for 12 years, and I've not seen one law being
She cited claims by her group and other activists that state the clinic
ignores mandated reporting laws on sexual assault and abuse involving
minor girls and adult men who father their children.
"What young girl is going to go into court in front of a judge and
admit they had an abortion?" she asked.
Michael also said the bill has "no teeth" because it only allows
civil suits to be filed and doesn't have any criminal penalties.
She said the bill was proposed by people with "good intentions"
but "it's not going to prevent one girl (from obtaining an
Other local anti-abortion groups could not be reached for comment.