Senator Cunningham’s Legislative Column for June 15, 2017

Cunningham Updated Banner March 2017

For the second time since the regular legislative session ended on May 12, lawmakers have returned to Jefferson City for a special session, which began on June 11.

One reason the special session was called by the governor is to repeal a St. Louis ordinance. The ordinance bans employers from firing, refusing to hire or disciplining women because they have an abortion, take contraception, use artificial insemination or become pregnant while not married. It also bans the same discrimination in housing.

St. Louis’ ordinance prohibits discrimination based on “reproductive health decisions.” It doesn’t apply to religious organizations such as churches and schools, but there is no exemption for faith-based “crisis pregnancy centers,” which try to counsel women against abortion.

The special session also comes in response U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs’s, May 2 decision, which overturned Texas’ abortion clinic laws; meaning Missouri’s were no longer enforceable. This action also changed a requirement stating Missouri doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The judge also struck down rules that clinics meet the same standards hospitals have for outpatient surgery.

Soon after the May 2 decision, Planned Parenthood announced it was planning to open clinics in Springfield, Kansas City and Joplin, thus the urgency behind the governor’s decision, which I fully support. Currently, St. Louis is the only city in the state that has abortion services.

After committee meetings earlier this week the lawmakers were able to reach a compromise. Just after midnight on Thursday, the Senate voted 20-8. Senate Bill 5 includes new regulations and provisions regarding pathology reports on fetal remains. There are also increased protections for abortion clinic employees who report any illegal activity or infractions of the law.

Once passed the bill will also get rid of St. Louis’ anti-discrimination ordinance. The bill now goes to the House for its consideration. The Senate has adjourned until June 22.

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.