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Missouri lawmaker trying to hold people accountable for aiding MO minors get abortions

April 19, 2004
By: Erin Israel
State Capital Bureau

It's one thing when a child needs a permission slip to go to the zoo with her class, but it's another thing when that child wants to have an abortion. Erin Israel tells us how other states are bypassing parental consent and what one Missouri state senator is trying to do about it.

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Senator John Loudon of St. Louis county is proposing a bill that would allow parents to sue individuals who help their daughters cross state lines to get an abortion without parental consent.

Currently, Missouri state law requires parental consent in order for an abortion to be performed on a minor; but Illinois, Missouri's neighbor to the northeast, does not.

Abortion clinics from Illinois advertize the loophole in Missouri phone books with ads that say, "No parental consent required."

These ads are what inspired Loudon to propose the bill.

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"SO WHAT YOU HAD IS iLLINOIS HAS SAID, 'WELL, OUR ABORTION CLINICS CAN OPERATE HOWEVER THEY WANT INCLUDING ADVERTISING IN THOSE OTHER STATES INDUCING PEOPLE TO VIOLATE THEIR STATE LAWS.'"

Loudon says he hopes the bill will disuade individuals from driving young women across state lines.

But Allison Hyle, Director of Information at Hope Clinic in Illinois, says only four percent of the clinic's business are Missouri minors, and most of them, she says, come with a parent.

In fact, Hyle says the number of Missouri minors who come seeking to avoid the Missouri required parental consent is so low that the clinic has pulled advertisements of that fact to use the space for something that will reach more consumers.

Loudon says those numbers canbe deceiving.

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"YOU KNOW, CLEVER THAT THEY USE THOSE WORDS BECAUSE FOUR PERCENT OF A BILLION DOLLARS IS A LOT OF DOLARS."

Loudon says the numbers are not what is truly important.

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"TO ME, ANY TIME A GIRL IS IN THIS SITUATION IS ENCOURAGES TO STEP OUTSIDE OF THAT PARENTAL RELATIONSHIP AND MAKE AN EMOTIONAL DECISION LIKE THIS WITHOUT THAT SECURITY IT'S A TRAVISTY."

Opponents to Loudon's bill like Senator Joan Bray of University City say the measure could place young women in desperate situations.

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"THEY COULD BE DRIVEN TO MEASURES THAT COULD BE DISASTEROUS...TRY TO INDUCE THEIR OWN ABORTION O SOMETHING HORRIBLE LIKE THAT."

Bray also says the bill has a major flaw in that it allows no exceptions for cases of rape, molestation and danger to the mother.

She says the state should be focusing on education, family planning and healthcare for young people.

Loudon says he realizes the bill could face stiff opposition including a fillabuster from what he calls minority pockets of legisltors.

If the bill does fail to pass, Loudon says he'll deffinately file the bill again.

From the state capitol, I'm Erin Israel.