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Missouri Supreme Court rules parents can sue over abortions

[JURIST] The Missouri Supreme Court [official website] Tuesday unanimously upheld [opinion] a 2005 law that allows parents to sue people who help their minor daughters get an abortion without parental consent. Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] had challenged the law on the basis that it infringed the group's First Amendment [LII backgrounder] right to free speech by blocking it from disseminating information or counseling clients about abortion. The Court applied a narrow interpretation of the law, finding that it only prohibited active aide in obtaining an abortion beyond merely providing information and thus did not infringe upon free speech.

The law [SB 1 text] states that “no person shall intentionally cause, aid, or assist a minor to obtain an abortion without the consent” of a parent or court order. Parents and guardians can sue anyone who either performs an abortion or helps the minor to obtain an abortion. A lower court judge upheld the law in 2005, but issued an injunction [JURIST report] against enforcing it pending an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. The same month, a federal judge reached essentially the same finding and also issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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