Senator Dan Brown’s Legislative Column






As I mentioned in last week’s column, the General Assembly has had three sessions — one regular and two extraordinary sessions; the Senate concluded its business for the second extra session this week. This week’s legislative topic: abortion.

Two events were the primary impetuses for the governor calling for a “pro-life session.”

In April, a federal judge enjoined long-standing Missouri laws the Legislature passed to protect the health and safety of women. The district judge ruled requirements that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and abortion clinics be held to similar standards as ambulatory surgical centers were not consistent with the ruling of a 2015 Supreme Court of the United States case.

Earlier this year, a St. Louis ordinance went into effect. It prohibits discrimination based on a person’s reproductive decisions. For example, it proscribes employers and landlords from discriminating against people who have had an abortion or used contraceptives. Citing freedom of religion and association, many people have expressed concerns about the ordinance’s broadness; the ordinance may impede the efforts of pro-life advocates and organizations that provide alternative-to-abortion services. Would such organizations be forced to tolerate and have as employees those who do not share their beliefs in providing such services or who encourage abortion upon women contemplating having one? Some argue that, under the ordnance as is, the answer is yes.

Consequently, the governor called the General Assembly into session to propose “some basic, common-sense standards” for abortion clinics and to help pregnancy care centers that are “under attack.”

After working out bicameral differences, members passed Senate Bill 5, accepting all of the House’s added provisions. Senate Bill 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.

As always, I encourage my constituents to contact me throughout the year with comments, questions or suggestions by calling my office at (573) 751-5713. To find more information about the bills I sponsored, visit Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.