Senate passes abortion legislation
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Senate passes abortion legislation

Date: May 14, 2009
By: Rebecca Beitsch
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 46, the roll call.

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Senate passed legislation that would increase the waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion.

Under the bill, women would have to talk to a health practitioner in person 24 hours before getting an abortion, be presented informational pamphlets and videos, and be offered the opportunity to see a live ultrasound and be able to listen to the heart beat.

Opponents of the legislation said that requiring a woman to talk to a health practitioner in person 24 hours before the abortion could be time consuming and expensive for women who have to travel to get to one of the two abortion clinics in Missouri.  

"We're going to create a situation where women who have to drive already from across the state because we've already put all the other ones out of business, are going to now  take two, three, four days off of work, away from their families, away from school, drive across the state. They may not have the money to do this but they're not going to have a choice. They're going to come in, and they're going to have two visits," said Jolie Justus, D-Jackson County.

Justus introduced her argument by citing the number of substantive abortion bills that have been passed, 64 by her count. She argued that none have reduced the number of abortions.

Majority Floor Leader Kevin Engler, R- Farmington, said the bills have had an effect. "Do you know how many abortion clinics there are in this state? And one of them is only open one day a week," said Engler who added that abortions have reduced as legislation has gotten stricter, and that's no coincidence.  

Bill sponsor Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, said the bill would help to protect unborn children, but Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis County, said that extending the waiting period doesn't make the fetus or the woman any safer.

Justus said that because laws state that abortions cannot be performed on the same day that family planning or other services are offered, some women may have to wait even longer.

Justus and Bray also had issue with a sign that must be posted in all clinics. "This has to be posted on the wall," said Justus. "There are public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term...We just went through the budget and saw all of these safety nets that they're referring to, we saw them all slashed."  

"A vote for this bill is a vote to lie to these women in print," Bray said of the required statement. Bray later added, "I'm sick of women being treated like they're too stupid to make decisions about their own reproductive organs. I'm sick of the epic around here of men that are pro-life for their wives, and pro-choice for their girlfriends."

The bill will now go to the House for another vote, where they can chose to accept the Senate version or go to conference committee to settle the differences.  

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