Missouri House Zaps Health Exception From Late-Term Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 14, 2011   |   7:24PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

The Missouri state House today zapped the health exception from the current state law restricting abortions. The law would remove the general health exception from the law banning abortions on viable unborn children.

Currently, Missouri law prohibits post-viability abortions except to “preserve the life or health of the woman.” Health exceptions, like the one found in the Doe v. Bolton companion case to Roe v. Wade, essentially allow abortions for virtually any reason with health cited as the reason for the abortion — even though extensive research shows abortions present problems for women’s medical and mental health. The Doe decision interpreted “health of the mother” to include any and all factors, including claims of mental and emotional distress or an inability or unwillingness to raise the child.

The bill makes it so late-term abortions can only be done in extremely rare circumstances, such as when the pregnancy directly threatens the life of the mother or would cause her extensive medical problems such as a “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” And, in those rare cases, a second physician would have to certify that the opinion from the abortion practitioner is correct and follows state law.

Abortion practitioners who violate the late-term abortion ban would be subjected to as much as seven years in prison and fine ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 under HB 213.

The House follow follows a vote in the Missouri State Senate, where the Senate General Laws Committee approved Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 65 by a vote of 7-1 that would protect preborn children from the crime of late-term abortion.

“The proposal, sponsored by Senator Rob Mayer of Dexter, would prohibit abortions after a child is viable except in specified circumstances,” explains Joe Oertwerth of the Missouri Family Policy Council. “An abortion can only be performed after viability if continuation of the pregnancy would result in a threat to the life of the mother or a significant health risk to the mother.”

Oertwerth continued: 

Defenders of legalized abortion like to claim that most abortions performed after viability are done because of what they like to call “fetal anomalies” or “birth defects” in the child.  Yet those with knowledge of late-term abortion practice acknowledge that many late-term abortions are performed for purely elective reasons.

While most late-term abortions are performed in hospitals, the Midwest has been a hub for abortion mills which have marketed late-term abortion “services.”  George Tiller operated an assembly-line clinic doing late-term abortions in Wichita before he was murdered by a gunman.  LeRoy Carhart has operated a similar clinic in Bellevue, Nebraska.  Carhart recently announced that he was exporting his late-term abortion business to Iowa, Indiana, and Maryland.
Should Senator Mayer’s legislation be adopted by the Missouri Legislature, late-term abortionists like LeRoy Carhart would have to think twice about trying to set up shop in Missouri.  A physician convicted of performing an illegal late-term abortion would be guilty of a Class C felony, and would have his medical license revoked.
Hospitals in Missouri would also have to ensure that physicians did not perform illegal late-term abortions in their facilities.  A hospital that knowingly allowed illegal late-term abortions to occur in its operating rooms would be subject to suspension of its operating license.

Senators Ryan McKenna, Brian Nieves, Chuck Purgason, LuAnn Ridgeway, Scott Rupp, Rob Schaaf, and committee chairwoman Jane Cunningham voted for the bill.  Senator Robin Wright-Jones voted against it.