Missouri Cmte Passes Bill to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 18, 2011   |   1:10PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

On Wednesday, the House Health Care Policy Committee of the Missouri state House passed a bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy except if necessary to save the life of the mother.

The bill, sponsored by Republican House Majority Leader Tim Jones, received a 9-1 vote in the committee.

The legislation requires abortion practitioners to determine if the unborn child is past 20 weeks using various tests and to determine if the baby is viable. The bill also changes the Missouri definition of viability to include human life that can be “sustained” outside of the womb with or without life support as opposed to life that can be “continued indefinitely.” According to an AP report, if the baby is determined to not be viable the abortion practitioner would have to issue a report to the state health department indicating so and explaining why.

A second licensed physician would have to sign off on the abortion to ensure state law was followed at the time of the abortion. Any abortion practitioner violating the law could face a year in prison and a three year suspension of his medical license.

Pamela Sumners, executive director of the pro-abortion group NARAL opposed the bill in committee while Samuel Lee, founder of the pro-life group Campaign Life Missouri, supported it.

“What we’ve had in Missouri and other states is abortions being performed for no reason,” Lee said, according to AP. “The law in Missouri needs to reflect what health really means.”

The Missouri state health department shows about 5 percent of the 10,800 abortions done in Missouri were done after 17 weeks of pregnancy and 469 babies lost their lives to abortions done after 21 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill, HB 213, now heads to the full House and a similar measure in the state Senate has yet to receive a committee hearing.