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Bill Opponents Say Would 'Terrorize Rape Victims' Passes Missouri House

UPI/Bill Greenblatt
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Updated 12:02 p.m. Edited formatting 12:44 p.m.

Health care workers could refuse to participate in procedures or research that violates their religious, moral or ethical principles under a measure passed by the Missouri House.

The House sent the measure to the Senate Tuesday with a 116-41 vote.

Earlier story:

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would allow medical workers to refuse to take part in procedures that violate their religious or ethical beliefs.

Giving Workers A Shield?

The sponsor,House Speaker Tim Jones (R, Eureka), says protecting the rights of workers is at the heart ofHouse Bill 457.

“We want to encourage those people in the health care field and give them a shield, so they can have an opt-out, with proper notice, to their employer,” Jones said.

Jones added that the bill would require health care workers who object to participating in a medical procedure to provide “reasonable notice” ahead of time. 

Or An Attack On Women?

 State Representative Stacey Newman(D, Richmond Heights) blasted the bill on the House floor, calling it an attack on women.

“This bill deals with rape victims being potentially denied emergency contraception in emergency rooms…women being denied care at the moment they exactly need it," Newman said.  "The religious liberty of a patient, (the) religious liberty of a woman and her family, is totally ignored in this.”

Newman went further, saying she was offended by the proposed new law.

"This bill terrorizes rape victims," Newman said during floor debate.  "Is this what we’regonnado?  This is theTodd Akinbill of the session? Come on!”

That comment brought a protest fromState Representative Joe Don McGaugh(R, Carrollton), who accused Newman of making derogatory statements and asked that she sit down.  The Speaker-on-duty ordered Newman to stick to the subject of the bill, but otherwise allowed her to continue speaking.

The bill was perfected on a 118-42 vote, mostly along party lines.  Jones later commented, via Twitter, that the results were "overwhelming" and "bipartisan," and that "Missouri House women" in "both parties, by (a) vote of 21-17, voted today for health care worker conscience rights...the women of the Missouri House have spoken."

The bill needs one more vote by the full House before moving to theMissouri Senate.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.