JEFFERSON CITY — Democrats in the Missouri House are trying to reverse a policy they say amounts to “state-mandated sexual assault.”

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, and Rep. Jon Carpenter, D-Kansas City, said they had filed legislation to ensure doctors are not required to perform pelvic exams before abortions unless they are medically necessary.

Current Department of Health and Senior Services policy requires that doctors conduct a pelvic exam 72 hours before performing an abortion, even if the abortion is medication-induced.

Supporters of HB 2617, HB 2475 and HB 2713 said pelvic exams are invasive and uncomfortable and can be particularly upsetting for young women or survivors of sexual assault.

“This is an issue we need to champion to make sure that young girls feel safe when they go to the doctor,” Bosley said.

At the news conference, speakers blamed the policy on DHSS head Randall Williams and called on Gov. Mike Parson to halt the practice.

A news release from DHSS in mid-2019 said department policy on pelvic exams has remained largely the same for decades, though it was reworded in 2018, and that it is required by state law.

Carpenter said he hasn’t “talked to a single Missourian who thinks it’s a good idea for the government to mandate medical procedures that doctors think (are) wrong and unnecessary.” He invited Republicans to support the legislation.

Quade said she doesn’t expect the legislation to advance in the Republican-controlled legislature, especially during an election year, but that it is still important to draw attention to the issue.

“We believe this is a conversation that is necessary,” she said.

  • State government reporter, spring 2020 Studying investigative journalism Reach me at mariabenevento@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • Mark Horvit is the state government editor. Call me at 817-726-1621 with story ideas, tips or complaints.

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