A federal judge has ruled Planned Parenthood will not be allowed to provide medication-induced abortions in its clinics in Columbia or Springfield, Missouri.
US District Judge Beth Phillips ruled Monday that the organization has not proven that enough women will be denied access to abortions under state rules imposed last year, according to The Columbia Daily Tribune.
Philips denied a request from Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri for a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the regulations.
In her ruling, the judge wrote that while the regulations have "virtually no benefit," the burden they impose is not enough to be unconstitutional.
Columbia's Planned Parenthood clinic offers surgical abortions and there is no barrier to obtaining a license for the same services in Springfield, Phillips wrote.
The ruling is the second to go against Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit filed after Missouri lawmakers created new regulations in 2017. Last November, Phillips denied a request to a temporary restraining order to block the regulations.
Court watchers think Monday's ruling did not end the lawsuit but showed the judge had doubts if Planned Parenthood would win the case if it ends up going to trial. The lawsuit was filed against the state Department of Health and Senior Services, which licenses clinics and county prosecutors would enforce criminal penalties under the law.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office praised the decision in a statement from press secretary Mary Compton.
"We are pleased that the district court denied Planned Parenthood's motion for preliminary injunction." Compton wrote in an email. "The Attorney General's Office will continue to vigorously defend commonsense regulations that protect the health of Missouri women."