Abortion Legislation Left on Table Despite GOP Supermajorities

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- At the beginning of the legislative session it seemed significant changes would be proposed for Missouri laws related to abortion, but none were sent to the governor.

The release by abortion opponents last year of videos alleging Planned Parenthood had illegally sold fetal tissue sparked in Missouri and other states investigations into those claims. Republicans in Missouri say legislative hearings found that after abortions in the state, fetal remains weren't tracked and accounted for. They also said abortion facilities weren't meeting state standards.

Bills addressing those findings were filed but despite a Republican supermajority in the legislature, they weren't passed.  Both the House and Senate versions were awaiting action in hands of the Senate when the session came to an end on Friday.

The Senate sponsor of those bills, Bob Onder (R-Lake Saint Louis), said one reason is Missouri Republicans want to see what the U.S. Supreme Court decides about a Texas law mirroring Missouri's standards for abortion clinics.

"Whether they go the right way and abide by the previous precedence and uphold the Texas law or whether they have some other decision, I think that will guide legislation going forward," said Onder.

Senate Republicans say they're also still reviewing documents released by Planned Parenthood as part of the Senate committee investigation into whether fetal tissue was sold in Missouri.

Senate Democrat leader Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) thinks the fervor that followed the release of those videos died down.

"I think those videos, when they were released, drew a reaction - abhorrent reaction - from everybody," said Keaveny. "As time passed and as investigations proceeded … there are some questions as to the validity of those videos. As the topic was covered and discussed more and more, I think the sense of urgency probably wasn't as great as it was the day those abhorrent videos were released."

Senate President Ron Richard (R-Joplin) said the failure to pass those bills doesn't mean his caucus is slipping from its pro-life platform.

"We've done a lot of pro-life issues. We've been probably one of the best pro-life states in the country and we'll continue that effort," said Richard.

Some other proposals considered this year would have required that all parents and guardians of a minor seeking an abortion be notified before it could proceed, would have barred the taking of a minor to another state to have an abortion without a parent's consent, would have required notarized written permission from a parent or guardian before a minor could have an abortion, and would have asked Missouri voters whether to add "unborn children at every stage of biological development," to the state Constitution's protection of a right to life.

(Mike Lear, Missourinet)


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