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Abortion Restrictions Pass

By: DAN MIHALOPOULOS and DAVID ROYSE
State Capital Bureau

May 02, 1995

See rollcall votes:

JEFFERSON CITY _ Anti-abortion forces won two major victories in Missouri's legislature Tuesday (May 2).

They won passage of an abortion-restriction bill and defeated an effort to would allow state family planning money be given to abortion clinics _ both defeats for the state's abortion-rights governor.

The Senate sent Gov. Mel Carnahan an abortion-counseling bill that he has promised to veto. The measure would require women considering abortions to prove they were offered counseling by the state.

Also Tuesday, the House rejected a conference committee's decision to provide family planning funds to Planned Parenthood.

Although the state funds are not used to subsidize abortions, anti-abortion forces objected that providing family planning money to Planned Parenthood would be an indirect support for abortion since abortions are also performed at some Planned Parenthood clinics.

For several weeks, Carnahan has vowed to veto the abortion-counseling bill it were approved.

His aids reaffirmed that promise almost as soon as the Senate vote was taken.

During the Senate debate on the bill, Sen. Joe Moseley, D-Columbia, said the measure was intimidating to women already facing a frightening choice.

"This is a decision where there is all kinds of fear and we shouldn't place any more fear on these women," Moseley said.

Moseley said the decision should be made in private and women should have the right to decide who they will consult for advice, if anyone.

But the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Schneider, said the bill was written out of concern for women _ not to coerce them.

"The suggestion that this bill allows for intimidation is absolutely wrong," said Schneider, D-St. Louis County. "If you care for women and for women that are in trouble, you will vote for this bill."

Schneider said many women who are facing abortions are left by their child's father to face the question alone. "This bill makes sure that she is offered services," he said.

Schneider also said the governor should give serious consideration to changing his mind on the veto.

"My focus right now is letting the governor know the importance of signing the bill," Schneider said. "It will help heal the state on this issue."

In the lower chamber, House Speaker Bob Griffin conceded defeat in the effort to allow family planning money to Planned Parenthood.

However, he said, the state will continue to fund other family planning providers.

The House rejected a House-Senate conference committee budget recommendation that would have permitted clinics which perform abortions to receive state funds for non-abortion, family planning efforts.

That section of the budget now goes back to the conference committee which Griffin said would reverse its position.

Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia, said failing to fund Planned Parenthood will affect hundreds of mid-Missouri women.

The burden of providing family planning services to 450 women will fall to the Boone County Health Department, he said. The department is unprepared to handle the additional load.

"This is a hardship for the women in Boone County," Harlan said.

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia used state funds to provide services to 625 women last year, said clinic spokeswoman Coletta Eichenberger.

"These are typically the women that fall through the cracks," she said. "They will not get regular screening for breast cancer. They will not get routine pap smears."

The state has prevented unwanted pregnancies by funding family planning for the last two years, said Rep. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph.

"Your votes to send this bill back to conference will result in more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions in this state," he said.

Shields implied that the Roman Catholic Church has influenced abortion foes to oppose funding for Planned Parenthood.

"Somebody outside this chamber has drawn a line in the sand," he said. "Someone is saying that if you're for Planned Parenthood and for family planning, you're not pro-life."

Opponents of the conference committee compromise noted that most House members voted against funding Planned Parenthood in a preliminary budget vote. Many blasted the representatives on the conference committee for abandoning the position taken by more than 100 House members.

"That compromising won't fly here in the House," said Rep. Bonnie Sue Cooper, R-Kansas City.

Rep. John Loudon, D-Ballwin, said Planned Parenthood doesn't need state funding to continue providing family planning services. Planned Parenthood performed the services before the state began funding the organization, he said.

"This is not a question about abortion per se," Loudon said. "Taxpayers don't believe the government should fund these services."