Missouri House committee advances abortion legislation

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:21 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 5, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — The House General Laws Committee approved a bill that would impose a 24-hour waiting period on getting an abortion.

No changes were made to the bill, which passed out of the Senate two weeks ago.

The bill would also require physicians to present informational materials about the fetus and alternatives. One of these would be a Department of Health and Senior Services-created pamphlet stating: "The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

In addition to the pamphlet, the doctor would be mandated to offer an ultrasound of the unborn child, its age and an opportunity to listen to the heartbeat.

A woman receiving an abortion would also be required to sign off that she received information on rape, domestic abuse, available medical assistance and the father's financial liability. The physician must present these materials in person at least 24 hours before the procedure.

Kathy Forck, campaign director of 40 Days for Life, stressed the importance of having a night to mull over the decision of whether to have an abortion. During her testimony, she read personal accounts from women who decided against having an abortion after seeing an ultrasound.

Forck said she has prayed peacefully outside of Columbia's Planned Parenthood every Thursday since February 2009. Thursday is the day the abortion provider administers the procedures.

Fellow 40 Days for Life campaigner Joanne Schrader, joins Forck every Thursday at Planned Parenthood.

Schrader said it's important for women to have a full day of contemplation outside of the abortion facility. Planned Parenthood, she said, has a vested interest in women getting abortions and compared to the abortion providers to car salesmen.

Allison Gee, public policy vice president for Planned Parenthood, said the bill is immoral and a state-mandated ideology. Different faiths have different views as to when life begins, Gee said, and physicians shouldn't be forced to present information they don't agree with.

When Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-Manchester, asked Gee when she believes human life begins, she said, "18."

After brief laughter in the hearing room, Gee admitted her response was facetious and reiterated different faiths have different beliefs. When pressed further on her personal views, Gee said she didn't know.

Rep. Beth Low, D-Kansas City, said because the women aren't mandated to see the ultrasound, the point of the legislation is simply to impose the 24-hour waiting period.

This adds a burden on women already in a difficult position, Low said. Building off Gee, Low said the bill would put rural and poor women at a disadvantage because they'd have added expenses in order to stay 24 hours.

The committee passed the bill out by a vote of 8 to 5 with the five opposing votes coming from the committee's five Democrats. The bill next goes to the House floor for debate.

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Mark Foecking May 5, 2010 | 4:42 p.m.

I wish the lawmakers would just butt out and let the decision to end a pregnancy (or not) rest with the mother, father (if he's in the picture), and her doctor. Whose business is this anyway but theirs?

The legislature has more important things to do.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 6, 2010 | 5:37 a.m.

@ Mark Foecking

Cheer up, Mark, the 2010 legislative session is almost over.

Person #1: "It doesn't appear that the Missouri legislative session will accomplish much this year."

Person #2: "I've noticed that. Isn't it wonderful!"

(Report Comment)

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