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Missouri House passes anti-abortion bill further tightening restrictions on providers

This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.

The bill also makes it a felony to donate fetal tissue from abortions for research or therapy purposes, and bars public funds from going to abortion providers or their affiliates.

The Missouri House has passed a bill containing multiple anti-abortion measures, including a provision that makes it a felony to distribute or administer abortion-inducing drugs in a way that violates state or federal law.

Members of the House approved the bill Wednesday with a vote of 91-37. It now goes to the Senate, with six weeks left in the 2022 legislative session before adjournment on May 13.

"I think the facts stand strong and well with our record here, we protect the unborn life," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, before it went to a vote.

No other legislator spoke on the bill before it passed.

Kelly’s underlying bill makes it a Class E felony to donate fetal tissue from abortions for any reason, including for research or therapy purposes.

However, a week earlier during the first-round approval process, House members spent more than an hour debating the bill and ultimately adding more anti-abortion measures to it from multiple lawmakers.

Currently, the bill contains four provisions, including Kelly’s bill, which does include exceptions “to diagnose anomalies paternity, or for any other law enforcement purposes.”

One of those added provisions, a bill originally filed by Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, creates the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.”

“What this language says is that any child that's born or alive during or after an attempted abortion, that that child should have all the same rights and privileges as any other child that is born at that same stage of development and that they should be provided care for medical staff,” Walsh said.

Under this provision, family members, including a spouse, parents or even children could seek a wrongful death suit in the specific instance of a baby “born alive” after an abortion attempt dying.

An exception was added so that perpetrators of sexual assault would be unable to sue their victims if their assault resulted in an aborted pregnancy.

The idea of family members suing people who have received abortions, even within this particular circumstance, drew ire from House Democrats.

“I would say in my professional experience, that encouraging children to sue their parents isn't conducive to family values,” Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit, said.

Another added provision concerns funding to abortion providers and bars public funding from going to not only abortion providers, but also affiliates.

This addition is another attempt from Missouri lawmakers this year to stop public money from going to Planned Parenthood.

One provision that did not make it onto the bill was an amendment that criminalized the act of helping someone receive an abortion, even if the abortion itself is performed outside of Missouri.

Instead, the House did attach an amendment that creates the criminal offense for trafficking abortion-inducing drugs.

Under this portion of the bill, proposed by Rep. Brian Seitz, R-Branson, a person or entity who knowingly distributes, prescribes or even administers an abortion-inducing drug “on another person in violation of state or federal law” would be guilty of a Class B felony.

“The primary purpose of this amendment is to protect the woman and to protect the baby,” Seitz said.

The bill also bars out-of-state pharmacies from delivering drugs meant to induce an abortion directly to patients in Missouri.

This portion of the bill raised questions as to who would be prosecuted for helping someone obtain abortion-inducing drugs, including if it applied to an instance of an ectopic pregnancy.

An earlier version of Seitz’s bill did not exempt ectopic pregnancies, which is when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Such pregnancies are not viable and could cause life-threatening complications.

Though the language on the now-passed bill does not specifically mention ectopic pregnancies, Rep. Wes Rogers, D-Kansas City, said on the House floor last week that someone who helps a friend buy abortion-inducing drugs for an ectopic pregnancy could be charged.

“I cannot stress enough that under this current amendment, buying abortion drugs on the internet to eliminate an ectopic pregnancy is still a Class B felony,” Rogers said.

Updated: April 7, 2022 at 9:06 AM CDT
This story was updated at 9:06 a.m. April 7, with more information on the bill and comments from lawmakers.
Sarah Kellogg
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