On Wednesday, a federal judge blocked Missouri's eight-week abortion ban.
Missouri passed a law in May that would ban abortions after eight weeks gestation. Abortion supporters protested the rule, arguing that this was too close to when many women would find out that they were pregnant to begin with. Doctors who broke this law and performed abortions could face up to 15 years behind bars. It has an exception for medical emergencies, but none for rape or incest.
What happened now?
In his decision, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs wrote that the law's "various sections specifying prohibitions on abortions at various weeks prior to viability cannot be allowed to go into effect on August 28 as scheduled."
Medical professionals generally consider babies born at 24 weeks or later to be viable, although babies have survived and thrived after being born as early as 21 weeks and 4 days.
According to the ruling, "about half the reported abortions in Missouri" took place after the eighth week of pregnancy.
Sachs said, "If it were possible to sever the language to limit the preliminary injunction to non-viable fetuses I would do so, but that cannot be done without judicial re-writing of the section, a practice to be avoided when possible."
Does this sound familiar?
In May, another federal judge blocked Missouri from closing its last Planned Parenthood location. The state had decided to let the clinic's license expire after it failed to agree to a request from the state government to interview its seven physicians to ensure that they were adhering to existing legal guidelines.