JEFFERSON CITY — A bill to permanently prohibit tax-payer funding for abortion, cloning and other prohibited human research was heard in the Senate Health and Pensions Committee on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 917, proposed by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, mirrors language that has passed in every budget since 2017, Onder said during the hearing, and would act as "Missouri's Hyde Amendment," which blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortion outside of certain exceptions.
"This would protect Missouri taxpayers from subsidizing abortion, cloning or stem cell research," Onder said.
The bill would make these provisions permanent, making it unnecessary to include them in future budgets. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said that the legislature shouldn't be making laws through the budget, "but that's what's been happening."
Four people spoke in favor of the bill, including Missouri Right to Life, Campaign for Life Missouri, Missouri Family Network and the Missouri Catholic Conference.
Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, raised concerns with the claims made by Missouri Right to Life that a "majority of Missourians oppose abortion."
Four people also spoke in opposition to the bill. A representative from NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri said that the bill could stop doctors from even giving referrals to women seeking abortions.
The bill would make it illegal for any public funds to be used "directly or indirectly" to fund abortions or administrative functions of abortion clinics. According to testimony from the Missouri Family Health Council, this could prohibit doctors from making referrals of any kind for fear of losing their funding.
Additionally, the bill would impact cloning and stem cell research, along with other human cell research. The 2006 Amendment 2 to the Missouri Constitution made stem cell research legal and banned human cloning.
Onder said that science has changed in the time since the vote on Amendment 2, arguing that opinions on stem cell research have shifted, too.