The Missouri legislative session ended last week and one of the many successes the state GOP is celebrating is the passage of a bill to add restrictions to the "abortion pill." It's one of several Republican initiatives that Planned Parenthood is now slamming in the aftermath of the session. It's no surprise that these organizations are at odds with the Republicans at the Capitol, but now they are turning their attention to Governor Jay Nixon, who has the authority to veto the anti-abortion bill.
A key question, too, is whether the GOP representatives could override Nixon even if he opposes their efforts.
"It was a shame and a disappointment this year," Paula Gianino, president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, tells Daily RFT.
Republicans, of course, see it quite differently.
One thing both sides seem to agree on: The bill could limit the number of abortions in Missouri.
The most controversial bill related to abortion access is House Bill 400, which the House and Senate both overwhelmingly approved last week. The state GOP in its press release on the bill's success praises lawmakers for approving "vital life-protecting legislation this past week that will ban webcam abortions and require a doctor to be present at the time she begins the RU 486 abortion."
The bill focuses on RU-486, also referred to as mifepristone, or any other "abortion-inducing drugs."
Supporters of the legislation say there are currently not enough restrictions on this process in the state -- mainly that women are not required to be in the presence of doctors at all stages.
That's why they commonly refer to the practice as "telemedicine" or "webcam abortions."
But groups like Planned Parenthood say it's much more complicated and that the new restrictions, if approved by the governor, would actually make it impossible for some women to access this service altogether. They emphasize that is proven to be safe and effective.
According to Planned Parenthood, the process requires two pills and it is standard practice for women to take the second one in the comfort of their own homes, sometimes days after the first pill. There's no medical reason why they need to return to the doctor or clinic for this step -- and given the lengths some women have to travel, it can be burdensome and even dangerous for them to be in transit during this period, the group argues.
Supporters of the bill, however, present it as an important women's health measure.
"The passage of HB 400 is a victory for the lives of unborn babies and the health of women in Missouri," State Rep. Jeanie Riddle, the bill's sponsor, says in a statement. "It will limit the number of abortions in our state by making it more difficult for abortion clinics to push chemical abortions without having an abortionist on staff at their facility. This legislation will keep accountability and responsibility on doctors to be physically present to offer care both before and after the administering of an abortifacient and not just dole out drugs while sitting behind a computer."
Continue for more response from the GOP and for the full statements and bill.
Missouri Republican Party Chairman Ed Martin adds in a statement, "Riddle's legislation gives voice and protection to those without a voice, the unborn."
It's not clear if Nixon will veto the proposal, and even if he does, there's a good chance Republicans could override him.
Planned Parenthood is also slamming approved tax credits for "crisis pregnancy centers," which they argue give out misinformation to women and are at times fueled by anti-abortion religious doctrine.
Here's the Missouri GOP's release on the anti-abortion bill, followed by Planned Parenthood's assessment of the session and a draft of the bill in question.
Missouri Legislature Passes Vital Life-Protecting Legislation
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri House and Senate overwhelmingly approved vital life-protecting legislation this past week that will ban webcam abortions and require a doctor to be present at the time she begins the RU 486 abortion.
"This legislation bans web-cam abortions in Missouri and ensures that women will meet with a doctor in person at the time she begins the RU 486 abortion. This legislation protects women from those in the abortion industry who seek to profit from RU 486 abortions by providing sub-standard care to women." said Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life to LifeNews reporter Steve Ertelt.
The bill was sponsored by Representative Jeanie Riddle and Senator Wayne Wallingford. The vote was passed by a bipartisan, veto-proof majority in both the Missouri House of Representatives (115 to 39) and the MIssouri Senate (23 to 7).
"The passage of HB 400 is a victory for the lives of unborn babies and the health of women in Missouri," said Rep. Jeanie Riddle (R-49). "It will limit the number of abortions in our state by making it more difficult for abortion clinics to push chemical abortions without having an abortionist on staff at their facility. This legislation will keep accountability and responsibility on doctors to be physically present to offer care both before and after the administering of an abortifacient and not just dole out drugs while sitting behind a computer."
"Representative Riddle's legislation, passed overwhelmingly by the Missouri House and Senate is a tremendous piece of legislation that will add accountability to doctors while protecting the health of women and the life of the unborn. Riddle's legislation gives voice and protection to those without a voice, the unborn." said Missouri Republican Party Chairman Ed Martin.
"Women's health placed at risk by Legislature's agenda," Planned Parenthood says
Missouri-- Today the Missouri Legislature adjourned the 2013 legislative session - a session marred by the triumph of politics over the health and safety of Missourians. After failing to adopt the federally funded Medicaid expansion, the Legislature approved restrictions on birth control and safe, legal abortion - in addition to the 12 restrictive provisions enacted in the past 3 years. In addition, the Legislature chose to divert $2.5 million in tax credits to unlicensed and discredited so called "crisis pregnancy centers." Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri encourage Governor Nixon to veto the abortion restriction bill, and call on state legislators to end their campaign against women's health.
Paula Gianino, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri and Peter Brownlie, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri said the following:
"Yet again, we are seeing the wrong priorities come out of the Missouri Legislature on matters of women's health. Instead of increasing access to preventive health care, the legislature is working to restrict access to birth control and non-surgical abortion while giving millions of tax dollars to groups that are known to provide misleading information to women about their pregnancies.
"The Missouri Legislature is following a disturbing trend in state legislatures across the country. Just months after women's health was a determining issue in an historic election, 42 states saw hundreds of provisions introduced to restrict access to health care and to put politicians between a woman and her doctor.
"We urge Governor Nixon to veto the abortion restriction bill. All women in Missouri, no matter where they live, need access to quality medical care."
As the session closed, here are the lowlights regarding women's health:
-HB400 would ban the provision of non-surgical abortion via telemedicine.
-SB20 and HB698 would divert $2.5 million in tax credits to unlicensed and discredited so called "crisis pregnancy centers."
-SB126 would allow pharmacies to refuse to stock birth control.
-The Legislature's failure to adopt Medicaid expansion will deny 260,000 Missourians access to life-saving and preventive services.
Each year, Planned Parenthood health centers in Missouri see nearly 80,000 individuals for medical and educational services, including birth control. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood provides birth control for 2.5 million patients.
The abortion bill.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.