LETTER TO THE EDITOR: House bill would take health decisions away from women, families

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 2:47 p.m. CDT

The movie "After Tiller" was featured earlier this month at the True/False Film Fest. Based on the turnout for the last screening at Jesse Hall at MU, I think it is safe to say that many people in our community had the opportunity to see this compelling movie. Many of the women and families featured in the movie made the very difficult and complex decision to end a planned pregnancy due to a fetal abnormality.

What some people might not know is that Missouri Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge, has filed HB 386. This bill would ban abortions based on genetic abnormalities. These decisions need to be left to women and their families, NOT legislators.

To add to my frustration, McCaherty misrepresented the bill during a hearing on HB 386 on March 6. At the hearing, Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Grove, asked McCaherty if this bill would criminalize physicians and ban abortion based on a fetal abnormality that was not compatible with life. McCaherty stated that the bill only intends to stop physicians from pressuring patients to consider abortion in cases of fetal abnormalities, but that there is no ban on abortions. However, the bill clearly states “no person shall intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant women is seeking the abortion solely because the unborn child has been diagnosed with either a genetic abnormality or a potential for a genetic abnormality.”

It is absolutely clear. The bill bans abortions. We deserve better, and this includes telling the truth.

Martha M. Stevens is a graduate student at MU's School of Social Work.

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