updated 5/27/2004 11:55:30 PM ET 2004-05-28T03:55:30

A federal appeals court Thursday lifted a temporary restraining order against a new law requiring women seeking abortions to wait 24 hours after consulting a physician.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis takes effect immediately. Physicians who violate the “informed consent” law face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The Legislature enacted the law in September by overriding the veto of Democratic Gov. Bob Holden.

At the time, 21 other states already had some form of a one-day informed consent law in effect; five others had laws under litigation or enjoined by courts, according to Americans United for Life.

U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright issued a temporary restraining order Oct. 10 — the day before the law was to have taken effect — based on claims by Planned Parenthood affiliates that the law was unconstitutionally vague.

A hearing on whether to impose a permanent injunction was set for Tuesday, but Wright canceled it, giving Planned Parenthood 45 days to file a separate lawsuit in state court. He also continued the restraining order.

Anti-abortion group hails it as ‘good news’
Attorney General Jay Nixon then appealed, saying the restraining order should be lifted while the case shifted to state court. The appeals panel agreed.

“This is good news for the women and their unborn children of Missouri,” said Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri, expressing hope “many women will decide to carry their children to term.”

Arthur Benson, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, said the group would decide its next step Friday.

“It could have substantial immediate effects, initially denying abortions planned and scheduled, and delaying and encumbering other abortions that soon would be performed,” Benson said of the court decision.

Planned Parenthood affiliates could ask the appeals court to reconsider, take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, or ask a state judge to issue a restraining order or injunction against the law.

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