JEFFERSON CITY — This week, the Missouri State Senate sent the governor one of the strongest pieces of legislation to protect life the Show-Me State has seen in years. The measure, Senate Bill 5, closes loopholes in Missouri’s abortion laws and further protects First Amendment rights.
Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said the upper chamber’s commitment to protecting the lives of the innocent unborn and ensuring the health and safety of women is clear.
“Clinics like Planned Parenthood need to be held accountable for women’s safety,” said Richard. “Senate Bill 5 restores common-sense measures to protect women’s health and ensure safety standards are in place.”
Bill sponsor, Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, said these common-sense measures are rational standards that are already practiced in other areas and industries.
“Regulations like having annual inspections is not too much to ask. Senate Bill 5 is a sensible approach to protect the public and alternatives-to-abortion agencies,” said Koenig. “Pregnancy crisis centers are under attack by ordinances like that in the City of St. Louis which is why we felt it was so important to pass this legislation.”
Protections and safeguards contained in Senate Bill 5 include:
- Allowing for unannounced annual inspections to ensure compliance with state and federal laws;
- Giving the Attorney General concurrent original jurisdiction to enforce Missouri abortion laws;
- Protecting the First Amendment rights of alternatives-to-abortion agencies, like freedom of speech and the right to gather and assemble without government inference, by preempting parts of the City of St. Louis’s “Abortion Sanctuary City” ordinance;
- Modifying the definition of ambulatory surgical centers and creating a new definition – abortion facilities – in provisions relating to infection control, licensure standards, staff training, and whistleblower protections;
- Ensuring that tissue removed at the time of the abortion is sent to a pathologist for examination within 5 days, and the pathologist issues a report to the abortion facility or hospital within 72 hours. Noncompliance could result in a one-year suspension;
- Preventing an abortion facility from requesting medical personnel to deviate from any applicable standard of care or ordinary practice while providing medical assistance to a patient;
- Requiring a complication plan when certain drugs are used to induce chemical abortions;
- Requiring consent for medical procedures and risks to be informed by the physician performing the abortion or the referring physician; and
- Protecting employees of an abortion facility who disclose information concerning actual, potential, or alleged violations of law from retaliation from their employer.
Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said while this is an issue many of his colleagues are very passionate about, it was the recent court decisions that have added urgency to the legislation.
“This bill contains strong protections for women and innocent unborn children,” said Kehoe. “I’m very grateful to everyone who helped us get this legislation to the governor’s desk.”
The bill now heads to the governor for his signature. For more on this measure and others, visit www.senate.mo.gov.