State Capital Bureau
JEFFERSON CITY - With a more conservative and Republican-controlled legislature, anti-abortion forces are proposing several new restrictions on abortion rights in Missouri. Nine different bills restricting abortion have been proposed so far this year.
Sen. Anita Yeckel, R-St. Louis County, has proposed legislation that would require a physician inform an abortion patient of "all reasonably foreseeable risks" from an abortion.
"There is a lot of evidence that early abortion causes breast cancer and I think doctors should reveal the statistics," Yeckel said. Her bill also would regulate abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers.
A House proposal would require that a woman seeking an abortion specifically be advised about the increased risk of cancer from an abortion.
Alison Gee, political director of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region, disagrees with the warning requirement proposals. "Abortion remains one of the safest surgical procedures for women," Gee said. "This Senate bill seeks not to protect women, but to make abortion harder to access."
And Carla Mahany, vice president for Public Policy in Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the bill would require facilities that provide abortions to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, "while hundreds of routine surgical procedures are provided without this requirement."
Sen. Chuck Gross, R-St. Charles, has proposed requiring clinics to collect more detailed information on abortions.
According to Samuel Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri, this proposal just codifies into law what has been the practice in Missouri for many years regarding abortion reporting by physicians to the state health department.
"The bill only adds information about the specific abortion method employed and the reason or reasons the women sought the abortion," Lee said. "And this data could help Missouri's alternatives to abortion programs."
Opponents charge the bill would invade a woman's privacy. "These are not people who care why women seek abortion, they care only to try to make it impossible for any woman to do so," said Alison Gee.
Legislation filed in both the House and Senate would require a 24-hour waiting period after a woman signs a written consent before an abortion could be performed. The measure also would require a physician preforming an abortion to maintain medial malpractice insurance or other proof of financial resources to pay for liability lawsuits.
Susan Klein, a lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life, said that a woman can regret having an abortion and "most women have no opportunity to sit and talk to a physician and they see the doctor for the first time in the abortion." The bill, she stressed, "doesn't tell the doctor what he has to say to the woman."
But Alison Gee said that because of the shortage of doctors who perform abortions, a mandatory delay could require women to make at least two trips to a city hundreds of miles away or to stay away from home overnight. "This is especially burdensome for low-income women, single women, young women, rural women, women who work, women who do not have private transportation and women in abusive relationships," Gee said.