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Veto supporter sponsors similar bill

February 04, 1998
By: Aaron Springer
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The lawmaker who's vote sustained the governor's veto of a partial-birth abortion bill last fall has sponsored this year legislation that is nearly identical to the vetoed proposal.

It was in last September's veto session, that Sen. Betty Sims, R-St. Louis County, cast the deciding vote to uphold Gov. Mel Carnahan's veto of a bill to ban partial-birth abortions.

Carnahan said he supported a ban on partial birth-abortions, but insisted that any bill include an exemption when the procedure is necessary to protect either the health or life of the mother.

The bill he vetoed made an exception only to preserve the mother's life.

This year, the bill Sims has sponsored, like the vetoed bill, provides only a life - not health - exemption.

Sims, who faces re-election this fall, said that she has switched her views.

"I didn't change my mind in that I've always supported the concept that partial-birth abortion should not be legal in the state of Missouri," Sims said.

Last year's vetoed bill and her bill this year are nearly identical except for one section - the section which defines partial-birth abortion.

Sims' bill defines the procedure of a partial-birth abortion in more specific medical terms. In her speech last fall explaining her support of the governor's veto, Sims - whose husband is a physician - had complained about the lack of medically precise language in the bill.

Critics had said the bill could have included procedures protected by the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since the veto session, Sims said worked with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in drafting her bill.

"Laws regarding health issues must be respected by the health community," Sims said.

Sims' position will put her in conflict with the governor whose veto she helped sustain just a few months ago.

The governor's spokesman, Chris Sifford said that the governor still insists that a partial-birth abortion ban "must protect the health of the woman."

Sifford said the governor would have trouble supporting Sims' bill if it does not address the mother's health in more general terms.

Sims proposal is one of two partial-birth abortion bills pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In the House, two similar anti-abortion bills have been languishing, awaiting committee assignment by the House Speaker, Steve Gaw - an abortion rights supporter.

Lack of assignment to committee effectively blocks any legislative action on the measures.

Gaw was out of town and unavailable for comment.