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Missouri House passes more restrictions on abortion clinics; now up to Senate

The floor of the Missouri House
The floor of the Missouri House

Updated April 28 to correct that Missouri would be among few states to have that notification provision — A raft of abortion restrictions that would mostly affect doctors is now in front of the Missouri Senate.

The wide-ranging House Bill 194, which the House passed Monday 117-40, requires annual, random inspections of abortion clinics; makes it a felony to donate fetal tissue for medical or scientific research; and requires, with some exceptions, a minor’s custodial parent to notify a non-custodial parent before an abortion.

If the parental-notification provision passes, it would one of the only states in the nation to have it, according to Elizabeth Nash with the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. The Guttmacher Institute website indicates that Minnesota also requires notification of both parents.

The measure’s forward progress comes a few days after Missouri lawmakers’ last restrictions were blocked by U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs, who ruled that women’s right to an abortion were “being denied on a daily basis” by requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges and requiring clinics to be on par with ambulatory surgical centers. That ruling meant Planned Parenthood officials could resume abortions beyond St. Louis, stretching into Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield and Joplin.

The floor of the Missouri House
Credit Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio
The floor of the Missouri House

Bill sponsor Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, said the measure that's now in the Senate will help protect women’s health and safety.

“This bill is really about transparency,” she said. “If people are pro-abortion, then let’s have an accounting, let’s keep that process safe and out there for everyone to see.”

But opponents argue the measure is designed to prevent women from getting abortions.

Democrat Rep. Judy Morgan of Kansas City pointed to a provision that would require all fetal remains to be sent to a pathologist and that the remains of the fetus be tracked from the abortion facility to final disposal.

“They’re medically unnecessary, may put patient privacy at risk, and do absolutely nothing to protect a woman’s health or safety,” Morgan said. “I view them a simply another regulatory burden put in place to restrict a woman’s constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion.”

Franklin contends tracking of fetal remains is necessary to make sure they don’t wind up at research facilities.

Planned Parenthood does not have a fetal tissue donation program in Missouri, according to Alison Dreith with the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri. Planned Parenthood in the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri said in an email that it doesn't donate fetal tissue.

It’s unclear whether the measure will make it to Gov. Eric Greitens, who has said Missouri is a “pro-life state.” That’s because there are less than three weeks left in the legislative session and an identical bill has been blocked by Senate Democrats.

Erica Hunzinger contributed to this report.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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