The Bill Will Also Help Ensure the Health and Safety of Women In Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, MO/June 15, 2017 (STL.News) — The Senate advanced a measure this week that closes loopholes in Missouri’s abortion laws and further protects First Amendment rights. During the Second Extraordinary Session of the 99th General Assembly, the Legislature was called to protect the lives of the innocent unborn and ensure the health and safety of women in the Show-Me State. Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said a recent judge’s ruling ending certain safety standards led to the urgency of passing these bills now instead of waiting until next January.
“Because we believed the ruling opened the doors for abortion clinics in Southwest Missouri and other areas across the state, we needed to take quick action,” said Richard. “This measure restores common-sense measures to protect women’s health and ensure safety standards are in place.”
Bill sponsor Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, said this bill upholds basic medical standards, protects women, ensures public safety, and it prevents people from being forced by the government to participate in abortion services.
“Clinics like Planned Parenthood must be held accountable for women’s safety,” said Koenig. “Annual inspections are reasonable. Hospitals, nursing homes, and child care facilities have regular inspections to ensure the safety of Missourians. So should abortion clinics. The women of our state deserve better.”
Senate Bill 5 does six things:
Annual Inspections: This bill1 requires clinic inspections to be performed yearly and unannounced to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and promote safety and better protections for women.
Attorney General Jurisdiction: This measure gives the Attorney General concurrent original jurisdiction to enforce Missouri abortion laws in certain circumstances.
City of St. Louis Ordinance: This bill also protects 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 the City of St. Louis’s “Abortion Sanctuary City” ordinance.
Definition of Abortion Facilities: This bill modifies the definition of ambulatory surgical centers and creates a new definition – abortion facilities – in provisions relating to infection control, licensure standards, staff training, and whistle-blower protections. Every physician who is authorized to perform or induce an abortion must be currently licensed to practice in Missouri.
Tissue Reports: This measure ensures that tissue removed at the time of the abortion is sent to a pathologist for examination within five days, and the pathologist issues a report to the abortion facility or hospital within 72-hours. If the pathologist doesn’t find presence of a completed abortion, the facility must be notified within 24-hours. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will check the reports and provide an annual report to the General Assembly. The DHSS can also consider a hospital or abortion facility non-compliant if that facility doesn’t satisfactorily respond to an inquiry.
Whistle-blower: This measure will protect 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 this measure restores common-sense protections for women, protections for unborn children, and protections for our First Amendment Rights.
“I am pleased that this bill contains the strongest protections for women and innocent unborn children to have been passed by the Missouri Senate in more than a decade,” said Kehoe. “Members of the majority caucus are passionate about protecting the safety of women and the lives of the unborn. This legislation represents a great deal of hard work, many hours of discussion, and leadership by Sen. Koenig. I am grateful to all of my colleagues who helped assure its passage.”
The bill now heads to the House for consideration. For more on this measure and others, visit www.senate.mo.gov.