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Abortion Regulation Clears House

April 15, 1996
By: Claudia Gabarain
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - An effort to impose tougher restrictions on abortion has been sent to the Senate.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Pat O'Connor, D-St Louis County, received final approval by an overwhelming vote (113-41) in the House Monday (April 15).

Unlike the abortion bill vetoed by the governor last year, the measure approved by the House would impose requirements on persons performing abortions:

Among the changes in the bill:

* A physician would be required to be present in the abortion facility until the patient is discharged.

* A physician performing abortions must have a medical malpractice insurance policy covering damages of $500,000 per occurrence and $1 million annually.

* The Health Department would establish alternatives to abortion services, including pamphlets describing services available to pregnant women and educational programs for social workers.

The measure vetoed last year would have required a woman to contact a private, outside counselor, before an abortion could be performed.

House debate on the issue has been relatively short - much shorter than the days of argument and political squabbles that led to passage of last year's abortion-restriction bill.

"Most of the people opposing the bill realized that we didn't want to spend 2 days -like last year- debating a bill we knew was going to pass," said Rep. Connie Murray, R-Springfield, who voted against the bill.

Murray said she the bill would restrict access to safe and legal abortions, "which I think is already very restrictive."

She said physicians performing abortions suffer attempts at violence and ridicule and that this practice hurts their business.

"Anything that we do where they'd have to have more requirements is just going to make fewer and fewer be willing to do the procedure."

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