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Partial Birth Abortion Ban Becomes Law

September 17, 1999
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

Any woman who had an appointment with Planned Parenthood in St Louis Missouri to have an abortion today will have to wait. A law went into effect yesterday in the state of Missouri that caused them to halt all abortion procedures.

Some supporters say the intent of the bill is to ban only a certain late term abortion procedure but that's not how Planned Parenthood and the governor of that state see it.

OutCue: SOC

Anti-abortionists called it a great day for the unborn.

Missouri governor Mel Carnahan had a different view.

RunTime: 12
Contents: It's an unfortunate day for the women of Missouri. This bill is far more extreme than its proponents claim. And I fear that future events will prove how dangerous this bill really is.

More than two-thirds of Missouri lawmakers voted to overturn the governor's veto of a bill designed to ban a late term abortion procedure called partial birth abortion. There's never been a documented case of a doctor using the procedure in Missouri.

Governor Carnahan vetoed the bill because he says it bans all abortions and he says he fears the bill gives a legal defense to extremists who commit acts of violence against abortion providers and patients.

Planned Parenthood, a family planning clinic that offers abortion services, halted all abortions as soon as senators voted to override the veto yesterday/Thursday.

Representative Bill Luetkenhaus of the St Louis area sponsored the legislation that has now become law.

He says he questions what the clinic's practices are if they're halting abortions because of the override vote.

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Contents: If they're halting abortions because of this, then they're probably doing partial birth abortions.

So for now, many doctors in the state aren't doing any abortion procedures. They're waiting for an injunction to keep the law from being enforced. Planned Parenthood has requested an injunction and filed a lawsuit in U-S District Court in Kansas City challenging the constitutionality of the law. Similar laws have been struck down in 20 other states. In some of the cases, the law didn't have a section allowing the procedure to be performed in emergency situations where the woman's health would be at risk...the Missouri law doesn't have that exception either.

Opponents of the bill say this is an attempt by the Missouri Catholic Conference to challenge Roe v. Wade. Louis De Feo, the lobbyist for the group helped author the bill.

Senator Ken Jacob who led the governor's charge against the bill says he's all too familiar with De Feo's influence.

RunTime: 25
Contents: I've been on the floor of the House when in lock step members would vote based on the approval of that man out in the hallway and in fact, I stood up one time with an amendment that was defeated...I persuaded De Feo that it was a good amendment and then a few seconds later they offered it and it passed.

Governor Carnahan says he and his staff will be looking at what steps they can take now that the veto has been overturned.