Dr. Allen Palmer v. Jane Drummond, et al.

This case is challenging a Missouri law that imposes additional restrictions on abortion providers, including requiring first-trimester abortion providers to meet the regulations for newly constructed ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) in order to be licensed to provide abortions.

Filing date: 05/20/08

State: Missouri

Plaintiff(s): Dr. Allen Palmer

Center Attorney(s):  Jennifer Mondino, Bonnie Scott Jones

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys:  Teresa Woody, The Woody Law Firm (local counsel)

Summary: In 2007, the Center for Reproductive Rights initiated state and federal cases on behalf of Dr. Allen Palmer, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has provided first-trimester abortions at his medical office for more than 30 years.  The cases challenge an amendment to Missouri's "TRAP" law.  The term "TRAP" stands for "targeted regulation of abortion providers," and it refers to laws that target the medical practices of doctors who provide abortions, and impose on them burdensome requirements which are different and more stringent than the legal requirements imposed on other medical practices.  These laws increase the costs of abortion and hinder physicians from providing abortion services.

Under the 2007 amendment to Missouri's TRAP law, first-trimester abortion providers are required to become licensed as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and to meet stringent regulations imposed on ASCs that provide abortions.   No other state has required that physicians who provide first trimester abortions license their offices as ASCs.  The regulations imposed under the new law require, among other things, massive and costly physical renovations to abortion providers' offices.  In fact, if required to comply with the new law, Dr. Palmer will likely have to close his practice, and two of the three other Missouri abortion providers in the State may be forced to cease providing abortions, at least temporarily.

We challenged Missouri's TRAP law in both federal and state courts.  In the state case, in Cole County, we argue that the State has deprived Dr. Palmer of equal protection of the law and that the regulations should be interpreted to permit existing abortion providers like Dr. Palmer to become licensed under the construction regulations designed for existing facilities, rather than those designed for newly constructed or newly renovate facilities. 

The case has now been settled and closed. Pursuant to the settlement, Dr. Palmer's clinic is being properly treated as an existing facility and therefore does not need to meet the standards applied to newly-constructed facilities.


The Center