Missouri House Supports Pro-Life Bill for Pharmacists’ Rights

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 5, 2011   |   5:07PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

The Missouri state House gave initial approval today to a bill that would allow pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion.

The legislation applies to drugs such as the morning after pill, the Plan B drug, or the new ella drug that causes abortions and works differently from and later than the morning after pill.

The legislation also regulates the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug which has killed at least 13 women worldwide and has injured 1,100 women in the United States alone, according to 2006 figures from the FDA. Under the bill, any physician giving out a prescription for the abortion drug would have to give women warnings about the dangerous side effects and complications resulting from it. The licensed doctor would also have to carry at least $3 million in medical malpractice insurance to cover any potential lawsuits arising from the injury of or death to women using the abortion pill.

State Representative David Sater, a Republican who owned a pharmacy in Barry County for 30 years, said before the legislative session that the measure he introduced would guarantee the rights of pharmacies to decline to sell drugs like the morning after pill and the Plan B or ella drug.

“I think any retail business would be affronted…if state government or federal government came in and told them that they had to sell a certain product,” Sater said, according to St. Louis Public Radio. “We still live in a free country, and we’re just trying to keep it (as) free as possible.”

Paula Gianino, the president of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis and Southwest Missouri, told the radio station lobbyists for the abortion business would be asking lawmakers to oppose the bill.

“The vague language in this bill can be used for pharmacies to find a way to use their own personal, religious and moral decisions and convictions to cut off access from women all over this state to even birth control services,” Gianino claimed.

Missouri pharmacists have had problems in the past that would be rectified by the bill.

Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri, a pro-life lobbying organization, talked with LifeNews.com previously about the measure and said pro-life organizations will strongly support it.

“We applaud Rep. Sater for working to protect the conscience rights of pharmacies that want no involvement with abortion-inducing drugs,” he said. “Whether it is Plan B or ella or any other drug that can cause an early abortion, pharmacy owners should be protected from having to provide or refer for drugs that violate their moral beliefs.”

“This is a bill that pro-life lawmakers have been trying to pass in Missouri for the last seven or eight years without success, but we are hopeful that in 2011 we can finally get it passed,” Lee added.

Lee noted the same legislation had been introduced by former-Rep. Ed Emery, another Republican, for many years and had passed the Missouri House as an amendment in 2009 and 2010, but never made it to the governor’s desk. Emery left office this year because of term limits.

The Missouri Pharmacy Association had previously testified in favor of Emery’s bill, along with a number of right-to-life groups which will likely support this year’s version of the legislation.

Update: The full provisions of the bill are listed below:

Prohibits “telemed” abortions, like what is occurring now and may be expanding in Iowa.  All abortion-inducing drugs – including drugs administered in subsequent visits – can only be prescribed and administered in the physical presence of a physician and only in a hospital or an abortion facility.  No “web-cam” abortions or “vending-machine” abortions will be permitted in which a doctor is not present or is only available via an internet hookup;

Makes it a class C felony (imprisonment for up to 7 years or a fine up to $5,000) for non-physicians to prescribe or administer RU-486 or any other drug intended to induce an abortion.  The bill provides enhanced penalties (class B felony: imprisonment for 5 to 15 years) for non-physicians who prescribe or administer such drugs to a woman without her knowledge or consent.  This provision is aimed at combating abortion-inducing drugs sold over the internet.  All other violations of the proposed law would be a class A misdemeanor (imprisonment not to exceed one year or a fine up to $1,000);

Specifies that all other Missouri abortion laws, including the 24-hour waiting period and informed consent requirements, have to be complied with when prescribing or administering abortion-inducing drugs;

Obligates the physician who prescribes RU-486 or other abortion-inducing drugs to physically examine the woman at least 24-hours in advance, and not delegate that examination to a non-physician.  This is especially important because women who have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy should not be given RU-486 (), and only a physician is qualified to determine whether or not an ectopic pregnancy is present;

Reaffirms existing law that doctors who perform drug-induced abortions must have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion takes place.  And, because a significant number of drug-induced abortions later require surgical intervention, the physician who prescribes or administers the drug must also have privileges to perform a follow-up surgical abortion at the hospital or abortion facility where the drugs were originally administered.  (Planned Parenthood in Columbia, Mo., has done and Planned Parenthood in St. Louis currently does RU-486 abortions up to nine weeks (63 days of pregnancy).  For women who have RU-486 abortions between 57 and 63 days of pregnancy (eight to nine weeks), 23% of these women later require “surgical intervention.”  See Table 1 in “Early Pregnancy Termination with Mifepristone and Misoprostol in the United States,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 4/30/1998.);

Requires that for a woman who changes her mind after the first dose and wants to carry her baby to term (the RU-486 regimen is a multi-drug, multi-day process), she shall be immediately referred to another physician for medical treatment for herself and her unborn child;

 Directs that because a baby who survives a drug-induced abortions might be born with birth defects, physicians who induce these types of abortions must have a malpractice insurance policy that can cover damages to the child who is born alive.  The malpractice insurance must be a minimum of $1 million per incident and $3 million for all incidents annually, and coverage must not expire until at least the abortion-surviving child’s 20th birthday, which is the statute of limitations in Missouri for malpractice actions involving minors.  (The FDA, the RU-486 manufacturer Danco and even Planned Parenthood all warn about “fetal malformations” and “birth defects from using RU-486.  Another abortion-inducing drug, the anti-cancer drug methotrexate, is especially prone to causing birth defects in unborn children, as well as the ulcer drug misoprostol);

No licensed pharmacy in this state shall be required to perform, assist, recommend, refer to, or participate in any act or service in connection with any drug or device that is an abortifacient, including but not limited to RU-486 and so-called “emergency contraception” such as Plan B; and

Such pharmacies shall not be disciplined or discriminated against for refusing to be involved with abortifacient drugs or devices.