Missouri Senate Passes Pro-Life Bill to Stop St. Louis From Becoming a “Sanctuary City” for Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 15, 2017   |   3:20PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

In a special legislative session, Missouri Senate lawmakers passed a bill early Thursday to protect babies and moms by requiring annual inspections of abortion facilities.

The AP reports they also approved a measure to overturn a St. Louis ordinance that made it a “sanctuary city” for abortions. The pro-life legislation passed with strong support in a 20-8 vote Thursday morning, before moving to the state House for consideration.

The St. Louis ordinance could force pro-life pregnancy centers, religious groups and others to hire abortion activists and rent to pro-abortion groups. In May, a pro-life maternity home, local business owner and the area Catholic diocese filed a lawsuit against the pro-abortion ordinance, saying it violates their constitutional freedoms.

Pro-life Gov. Eric Greitens called for the special session last week to stop the St. Louis abortion ordinance and to enact new regulations for abortion clinics. Most of the governor’s recommendations passed on Thursday.

According to the report:

Annual health inspections of abortion clinics made it into the latest version of the bill, along with a provision to nullify a St. Louis ordinance banning discrimination based on abortion or pregnancies.

But senators ditched a proposal that would have banned abortion clinic staff from asking ambulances to drive without lights or sirens.

The latest version also gives the attorney general authority to prosecute violations of abortions laws, but only if local prosecutors don’t act first.

Other measures that the Senate approved would ramp up oversight of how abortion facilities handle aborted babies’ body parts. If passed by the House, the new law would require abortion facilities to submit fetal tissue samples for examination within five days of the abortion, and would require the state health department to regularly review the sample reports to make sure abortion clinics are complying with state laws, the AP reports.

The legislation addresses ongoing questions about whether abortion clinics in the state illegally sold or disposed of aborted babies body parts.

The new abortion clinic inspection regulations also are the result of heated abortion politics in the state.

In April, a federal judge granted Planned Parenthood’s request to block state abortion clinic regulations, arguing that they hurt women’s access to abortion. The laws require abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergency situations, and abortion facilities to meet standards similar to other ambulatory surgical facilities.

Gov. Greitens said they plan to appeal the decision.

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The state regulations have helped to saved thousands of unborn babies’ lives since they passed in 2005. Many abortion facilities closed, dropping from seven in 2005 to two in 2014, because they could not or would not comply with the safety regulations. Abortion numbers also dropped steadily after the law went into effect.

The Planned Parenthood in St. Louis currently is the only abortion facility in the state. It has developed a terrible reputation, sending at least 69 women to the hospital in ambulances since 2009, according to Operation Rescue. State inspection reports between 2009 and 2016 also showed more than 200 health and safety violations that endangered women’s health.

The Planned Parenthood in Columbia had to stop doing abortions in 2015 after its abortionist lost admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. However, the abortion chain said the judge’s ruling will allow it to reopen the facility and several others.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greitens held a rally with hundreds of pro-lifers in the state Capitol to support the pro-life measures; abortion activists also held a protest earlier in the day.

“Today, hundreds of pro-life Missourians came together to celebrate the work that our pregnancy care centers do for women and children. These are pro-life organizations that offer medical care, housing, food, and support throughout pregnancy and for years after a baby is born,” the governor wrote Wednesday on Facebook.