by Steven Ertelt
August 17, 2005
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — State lawmakers will soon begin a special legislative session to consider legislation regulating abortion businesses. Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, a normally pro-life Republican who has upset pro-life groups by supporting embryonic stem cell research, called for the session in May.
The only bill on the agenda is SB 2, which would increase regulation of abortion businesses and allow lawsuits to be filed when an adult other than a teenager’s parents takes her out of state for a secret abortion in violating of Missouri’s parental consent statutes.
Larry Weber of the Missouri Catholic Conference told the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper that representatives would like to address abortion "in a comprehensive manner," but he added that legislators "said that wasn’t going to happen."
Sam Lee, head of Campaign Life Missouri, another pro-life group, said legislators have told him the only legislation that will come up for discussion is SB 2.
Missouri Right to Life president Pam Fichter says her group has not been told what lawmakers will consider and told the Post Dispatch, "We’re just hopeful that the governor will propose good, substantial legislation."
Blunt spokesperson Spence Jackson told the newspaper the governor wants to see fewer abortions in the state and hopes the legislation will further reduce the already significantly declining number of abortions.
Jackson also said he hopes for "less political rhetoric from pro-abortion extremists like Jay Nixon and Claire McCaskill," referring to the state attorney general and state auditor, both Democrats, who are expected to run against Blunt in 2008.
In April, the Missouri state Senate approved the legislation on a lopsided 26-6 vote, but the House voted for a measure with different wording in March and adopted it 121-31. The legislation was never finalized before the session ended.
Other provisions of the bill say that abortions could no longer be performed in clinics that receive taxpayer funds and abortion practitioners would need privileges at a local hospital to transfer women when an abortion is botched.
Discussing the lawsuit portion of the bill, Rep. Jane Cunningham said it was important to stop the taking of minors from the St. Louis area across the border to an Illinois abortion facility. There are no laws requiring parental involvement in Illinois.
"When a minor child has to face this kind of decision, the person they need most is the person who cares most about their welfare, and that’s their parents," Cunningham said.
The House version also calls for any facility that performs abortions to be classified as an "ambulatory surgical center," which would allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to inspect abortion businesses annually.
The Senate measure also allows pregnancy centers that don’t do abortions to be eligible for as much as $2 million in tax credits and would also set up a fund to promote abortion alternatives.
Governor Matt Blunt is expected to sign it into law once the legislature works out a final version of the bill.