Senator Cunningham’s Legislative Column for July 21, 2017

Cunningham Updated Banner March 2017

On July 24, I will be joined by other Senators as we reconvene on the Capitol to take up debates on Senate Bill 5. Several weeks ago the Senate sent SB 5 to the House, where it was amended. Once again, it is the upper chamber’s turn to debate the bill. Should we pass it, the governor has pledged to sign it.

Simply put, the expanded version of HCS/SB 5 does the following:

  • Overturns the St. Louis “abortion sanctuary” ordinance and prohibits other municipalities from passing similar ordinances; prohibits forcing religious schools to hire abortion advocates as teachers and landlords from renting to abortion clinics; prohibits harassment of pregnancy resource centers;
  • Requires Missouri Department of Health to make annual, on-site and unannounced inspections of abortion facilities;
  • Requires that only physicians who are licensed to practice in the state of Missouri may perform or induce abortions in an abortion facility located in Missouri;
  • Requires a doctor to provide medical information to a woman prior to an abortion decision;
  • Requires an abortion doctor to obtain approval of a “complication plan” from the Missouri Department of Health for steps that will be taken when problems arise from administering a medication abortion;
  • Requires abortion facilities to have written policies for managing an emergency and transferring patients to a hospital;
  • Creates a Class A misdemeanor for abortion staff who knowingly order or request medical first responders to deviate from standard protocols of emergency care;
  • Requires all fetal tissue from abortion to be submitted to a board eligible pathologist for examination; pathologist must report to the Missouri Department of Health;
  • Includes “whistleblower” protections for employees of an abortion facility who disclose information about possible health and safety violations of abortion law; and
  • Grants the Missouri Attorney General equal authority, along with prosecutors, to enforce Missouri abortion laws.

There is a real urgency in passing Senate Bill 5. This is because of U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs’ May 2 decision, which overturned Texas’ abortion clinic laws — meaning Missouri’s were no longer enforceable. Soon after the May 2 decision, Planned Parenthood announced it was planning to open clinics in Springfield, Kansas City and Joplin, given the urgency behind the governor’s decision to call a special session, which I fully support. Currently, St. Louis is the only city in the state that has abortion services.

Over the last several weeks I have received countless calls, emails and text messages from concerned constituents supporting this legislation. I look forward to seeing this bill passed, with all of the newly added provisions. I believe life begins with the first heartbeat and ends when the heart has stopped beating. I am pro-life and fully support this bill.

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.