National Partnership for Women & Families

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Abortion-rights advocates criticize Mo. bill to increase abortion regulations; lawmakers consider banning certain abortions

A Missouri Senate committee on Tuesday held a hearing on a mandatory counseling bill (SB 883) that would apply to Missouri women seeking abortion care outside of the state, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

Bill details

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jeanie Riddle (R), would require an abortion provider or family planning agency to give a woman considering an abortion an information packet if the provider gives her the name, address, telephone number or website of an abortion provider located out of state. The packet comprises state-written materials and includes biased information about fetal pain, information on fetal development and the ideological assertion that life begins at conception.

Under the bill, such providers also would be required to offer to send the information packet to women who request information about an out-of-state abortion provider by phone or other non-face-to-face manner. Women who receive the packet would not have to cover the cost of shipping.

Hearing details

During a state Senate committee hearing on the bill, Ellen Alper, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, and other opponents of the measure raised concerns about the information's medical accuracy.

M'Evie Mead, state director of organizing at Planned Parenthood, criticized the packet information, noting that claims that life begins at conception are not medically accepted fact and that there is no scientific evidence to support the packet's claims about fetal pain.

Separately, state Sen. Jill Schupp (D) questioned how the bill's shipping provision could affect women who are in an abusive relationship and do not want to disclose their request for information on out-of-state abortion providers to their partner (Stuckey, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/2).

Mo. lawmakers hold hearing on bill banning certain abortions

In related news, a Missouri House committee on Tuesday heard testimony on a bill that would ban a certain type of abortion procedure in the state, AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Under the bill, physicians who perform the procedure could receive up to a two-year prison sentence and a fine of $10,000. The bill also would allow patients to sue a physician for damages (Aton, AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/2).

Background

Similar measures have been signed into law in Oklahoma (HB 1721) and Kansas (SB 95), and state lawmakers have proposed related bills in Michigan (HB 4833, HB 4834) and South Carolina (S 531). Physicians use the method in about 8 to 9 percent of abortions across the United States.

The Oklahoma law currently is on hold pending court decisions (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/12/15). Separately, the Kansas Court of Appeals in January ruled 7-7 to uphold a lower court ruling that prevents the law from taking effect, ruling that the state constitution protects a woman's right to abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/25).

Hearing details

Laura McQuade, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, expressed confidence that the bill would not survive a legal challenge.

Sarah Rossi, the director of advocacy and policy at the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, said the measure violates the U.S. Constitution and places an undue burden on women seeking abortion care. She said, "Missouri is a state with so many restrictions on abortions already. There's a point where you go too far and you're going to have to reckon with the courts" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/2).