National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Antiabortion-rights efforts fail in Mo.

Several antiabortion-rights bills proposed in Missouri this legislative session failed to advance to the governor's desk, Missourinet reports.

According to Missourinet, the state Legislature did however advance legislation that eliminates about $300,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood, at a cost to the state of $8 million in federal funding.

Abortion legislation

State lawmakers did not advance a measure (HJR 98) that would have granted state constitutional rights to fetuses (Nelson, Missourinet, 5/17).

The measure, proposed by state Rep. Mike Moon (R), would have extended a provision in the state constitution that protects an individual's "right to life" to a fetus "at every stage of biological development." The measure did not include any exceptions for rape, incest or life endangerment. According to abortion-rights supporters, the bill would have not only restricted abortion access, but also could have affected access to certain forms of contraception (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/6).

Missouri lawmakers also did not advance a bill (SB 802) that would have banned abortion care sought in cases of a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome (Missourinet, 5/17). The bill, proposed by state Sen. David Sater (R), would have required physicians after performing an abortion to certify that they did not know the woman was seeking abortion care because of such a diagnosis. Physicians who violated the ban could have faced punishments including serving up to one year in prison and paying a fine of up to $1,000 (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/15/15).

Fetal tissue restrictions

Lawmakers also did not act on legislation (HB 1953, HB 2069, SB 644) that would have restricted fetal tissue donation. The bills were proposed following the release of a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood (Missourinet, 5/17). An investigation led by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) found no evidence Planned Parenthood engaged in wrongdoing (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/14).

According to Missourinet, the legislation also would have imposed new licensing and inspection requirements on facilities that provide abortion care. Sarah Rossi, director of advocacy and policy at the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, stated that the provisions are similar to legislation being challenged in a lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court. She said, "The proposals could [have] be[en] overturned three months from now and could [have] embroil[ed] the state in very long and costly litigation."

Rossi added, "Regardless of the reason why the bills have not moved, I think it is the smart, responsible and frankly fiscally conservative move" (Missourinet, 5/17).