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House Committee approves partial birth abortion bill.

March 20, 1997
By: ANN S. KIM
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation that would make doctors who perform partial-birth abortions guilty of second degree murder moved closer to a debate on the House floor.

The House Criminal Law Committee voted Wednesday to pass the bill with a few amendments.

The revised bill would allow the abortion procedure in some cases to protect the health of the mother. Severe long-term disability or physical injury would be legitimate reason to perform the procedure. It would not be allowed for reasons of psychological, emotional or cosmetic health, injury or disability.

Some anti-abortion lawmakers in Missouri and Congress have argued that the procedure be allowed only if necessary to prevent the death of the mother.

The new version of the bill would also lower the penalties for doctors who do perform the abortion illegally. Doctors would face imprisonment for up to five years instead of seven.

Rep. Rocky Johnson, D-Desloge, voiced concern that the bill did not allow the procedure in cases of when the fetus was incompatible with life.

In earlier hearings, legislators have heard testimony about how the procedure was sometimes performed in cases of severe deformities of the fetus.

Johnson, who voted against the bill, did not choose to offer such an amendment, saying that the bill would "have a hell of a time on the floor."

A similar bill has been passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is pending before the full Senate.