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Abortion Bills Flood State Legislatures This Session

April 25, 2011

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - There's a political shift in many states across the country, including Missouri, where lawmakers are trying to pass tougher abortion restrictions. Those watching these bills say the number filed has dramatically increased nationwide, with bills in more than 30 states. They include measures that would require an ultrasound before an abortion, restrict insurance coverage on abortion or ban late-term abortions because of alleged fetal pain.

According to reproductive health advocates, changes in the political composition of state legislatures after last fall's elections have played a role in the increased number of such bills filed. The Rev. Rebecca Turner with Faith Aloud says the economy and jobs were on the minds of voters last fall, not abortion.

"This is definitely the most extreme swing to the right that we have seen. It has been building for quite a number of years. This happened at this particular time because of a bait-and-switch in the last election."

Many sponsors of these bills argue they would give women more information before making a decision about an abortion. Turner calls that information misleading and inaccurate.

Several bills filed in Missouri would further restrict access to contraception and abortion, Turner warns.

"The one that has moved the most quickly is a bill that would penalize doctors who perform abortions between 20 and 22 weeks of gestation. That bill is very similar to bills that have been filed in quite a number of other states."

Only 63 abor­tions were per­formed last year in Mis­souri after 20 weeks gestation due to fetal anomaly or maternal health, according to the Missouri Health Department. Under the proposed legislation, SB 65 and HB 213, doctors face punishment of up to seven years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

Both chambers must agree on the same version in order for a bill to go to the governor.


Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO