by Steven Ertelt
September 16, 2005
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed a bill Thursday that would help reduce the number of abortions there by helping parents of teens considering abortion and women suffering from botched abortions. However, abortion businesses wasted no time in taking the measure to court to prevent it from being enforced.
Blunt praised the passage of the bill, calling it a "a good pro-life piece of legislation that will reduce the number of abortions in our state" and help in "cultivating a culture that values human life and the rights of the unborn."
The legislation features two key provisions.
One prevents adults other than a minor girl’s parents from taking her to another state for an abortion. The other requires abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges in a local hospital within a 30 mile radius of the abortion facility.
Michelle Turner-Collins, administrator of Springfield Healthcare Center, an abortion facility there, says the second provision essentially has closed the center. There is no local hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility that has granted the abortion practitioner there to have admitting privileges.
"Effectively, we’re closed," she told the Springfield News-Leader newspaper.
She indicated the abortion business performs approximately 1,500 abortions annually but that they stopped doing them once the law took effect yesterday. Twenty women had abortion scheduled next week and they are being referred to abortion centers in other parts of the state.
Four abortion centers, including ones operated by Planned Parenthood, immediately filed lawsuits in Kansas City Circuit Court and Jefferson City Federal Court. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region spearheaded the lawsuits.
The suits say the new law is unconstitutionally vague and they ask judges in those courts to issue a temporary injunction blocking the law until the lawsuits move through the judicial system.
Scott Holste, a spokesman for Attorney General Jay Nixon, told the Springfield newspaper that he "will vigorously defend this law."
Turner-Collins said the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights law firm in New York filed a suit on her behalf and she said it’s been in the works for weeks knowing the bill would likely become law.
The abortion practitioner there applied for admitting privileges at St. John’s Hospital, a Catholic facility which has said they would not grant the request.
During a hearing on the measure, Shawn Reagan of Wood River, said she wept as she talked with staff at the Hope Clinic abortion facility in Granite City, Illinois. The staff refused to let her talk to her 14 year-old daughter who was inside the facility preparing for an abortion.
Reagan knows the bill won’t affect Illinois law, but she hopes it helps Missouri teens and parents who may face a similar situation as her.
"I only hope that Illinois will follow suit," she said.
Staff at the abortion facility told the News-Leader they are changing their practices on abortions on minors.
Hope Clinic executive director Sally Burgess said it will not require parents of Missouri teens to accompany them to the abortion facility to ensure it has their consent to perform the abortion. If the teen is worried about telling her parents about her pregnancy or a possible abortion, the facility will not perform the abortion.
"We have explored what we can do for a teenager who feels she would be in danger if she went to her parents," Burgess said.
Pro-life groups back the bill and it "will protect women, will protect parental rights and we believe it will save many lives," Susan Klein, of Missouri Right to Life, told the Associated Press.
The state House voted for the measure 115-35 after the state Senate approved it on a 26-6 vote.
Related web sites:
Missouri state legislature – https://www.moga.mo.gov