Missouri House OKs Bills Stopping Coerced Abortions, Allowing Ultrasound View
by Steven Ertelt
March 11, 2009
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — The Missouri state House on Wednesday okayed two pro-life bills that will help stop the coercion of some women into having an abortion and allow women considering an abortion to see an ultrasound of their unborn child prior to making the life and death decision.
The Missouri House voted 115 to 43 for HB 46 and HB 434.
Pam Fichter, the president of Missouri Right to Life, told LifeNews.com afterwards that she is delighted the state House pushed the much-needed bills forward.
"This legislation ensures that a woman considering an abortion is offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound," she said.
The bills would also ensure "she is given information about the development of her unborn baby and that she understands that no one can force, threaten or coerce her into having an abortion."
"She will also be given information on alternatives to abortion," Fichter added.
Rep. Cynthia Davis and Rep. Bryan Pratt sponsored the bills and Fichter thanked them and the other members of the House that supported the pro-life legislation.
"We call upon the Senate to protect Missouri women and their unborn babies by passing HB 46 & 434, and call on Governor Nixon to sign" them into law.
Rep. Robert Mayer has sponsored the companion Senate bill, SB 264, that has been approved in a Senate committee but not yet received a debate and vote on the Senate floor.
House Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, one of the sponsors, notes that a high number of women say they felt pressured into having an abortion.
House Bill 434 makes it a further crime to engage in domestic violence or harassment to force a woman into having an abortion.
Anyone found guilty would face varying degrees of criminal penalties depending on the act the defendant engaged in, ranging from assault to stalking to threats against the pregnant mother.
The bill also finds abortion practitioners guilty of a class C felony if they engage in an abortion on a woman they know to have been pressured into having an abortion. The idea is to get abortion centers to engage in better screening to help such women find abortion alternatives.
However, abortion advocates are against the bill to stop coercing women into an abortion they may not otherwise want.
Rep. Sara Lampe, a Springfield Democrat, said she thinks the bill will criminalize the parents of teenagers who are victims of rape for suggesting that they have an abortion.
Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, also praised the state House for passing the bills.
"No woman should be forced into getting an abortion by a husband, boyfriend, or employer," she told LifeNews.com. "Too many times in our country, pregnant women do not have adequate recourse when they are being coerced."
Last year, the state House approved a similar bill on a 113-33 third reading vote.
At the time, Missouri Right to Life told LifeNews.com the anti-coercion bill was needed because of a recent case of a forced abortion.
According to the group, a 16 year-old girl was the victim of an attempted coerced abortion by her mother and aunt. The three were at the Planned Parenthood abortion center when the teen apparently called police by dialing 911 on her cell phone.
"The police went into the facility and arrested the aunt. The mother then realized that it wasn’t so simple to force her will upon her daughter," the group said. "How many more times might this be happening across the state of Missouri?"
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