Passage of Important Pro-Life Legislation
The Senate’s second special session of the summer has come to an end. The Senate passed one of the strongest pro-life bills in years that provides more protection for women’s health and safety. In addition, it provides protection for alternative-to-abortion agencies so that they may continue to confidently operate in the city of St. Louis and in other areas around Missouri.
The governor called this second special session for two reasons.
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 that abortion clinics be held to similar standards as ambulatory surgical centers were not consistent with the ruling of a 2015 United States Supreme Court case, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
Earlier this year, a St. Louis ordinance went into effect that dealt with discrimination based on a person’s reproductive decisions. 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.
For those two reasons, the governor called the General Assembly into extraordinary session to propose “some basic, common-sense standards” for abortion clinics and to help pregnancy care centers that are “under attack.”
The passing of Senate Bill 5, with the additional provisions from the House is a victory for all. Senate Bill 5 does the following:
- Provides specific protections for alternative to abortion agencies and pregnancy resource centers; Overturns parts of the St. Louis ordinance and prohibits other municipalities from passing similar ordinances; prohibits a political subdivision from forcing religious schools to hire abortion advocates as teachers and landlords from renting to abortion clinics; prohibits political subdivisions from requiring health plan coverage beyond what is required by state law;
- Requires the 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 state approval of a “complication plan” 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 an abortion to be submitted to a board eligible pathologist for examination and the pathologist must report findings 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.
The Senate came into session Monday, July 24, to debate the House’s additions to the bill. After some passionate debate we passed the measure with a vote of 22-9 on Tuesday afternoon. The bill was signed by the governor on Wednesday, just one day after it was passed by the Missouri General Assembly.
It is an honor to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.