US judge blocks restrictive Missouri abortion law

Pro-choice supporters cheer in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the court, in a 5-3 ruling, struck down a Texas abortion access law. (iStock)
Pro-choice supporters cheer in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the court, in a 5-3 ruling, struck down a Texas abortion access law. (iStock)

A Missouri court on Tuesday temporarily suspended a restrictive abortion law that was set to come into effect the following day in the conservative central US state.

Kansas City Judge Howard Sachs said the law, which bans abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy, violates the Supreme Court's ruling that guarantees the right to an abortion as long as the foetus is not viable.

"However formulated, the legislation on its face conflicts with the Supreme Court ruling that neither legislative nor judicial limits on abortion can be measured by specified weeks of development of a foetus," Sachs said.

READ | Across US, women have unequal access to abortion

He did not, however, block the portion of the law that would ban terminations on the basis of foetal sex, race or risk of Down syndrome.

Several conservative southern and central US states have launched sweeping attempts to limit abortion rights by adopting laws that ban the practice early in a pregnancy.

The legislation is aimed at triggering legal challenges that could bring the question back to the Supreme Court, which legalised abortion in the landmark Roe v. Wade case in 1973.

Reproductive health care organisation Planned Parenthood hailed Tuesday's ruling on Twitter.

"What little abortion access in Missouri is left, will stay in place for the time being. In the meantime, we can't ignore the part of this law that remains in place - which allows politicians to interfere with the patient-provider relationship," Planned Parenthood acting president and CEO Alexis McGill wrote.

"We won't stop fighting this in court."

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