The Missouri Legislature is continuing its pioneering tradition of advancing important pro-life legislation as the first regular session of the 99th General Assembly gets underway. Several measures have been proposed to strengthen state statutes regulating abortion, some of which have been approved by the Missouri House in the past, but have failed to win final passage in the Missouri Senate.
One of the major subjects to be discussed is the handling and disposal of the remains of aborted preborn children. Similar bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate which would establish new restrictions which would inhibit the sale of the organs and tissue from unborn children who have been aborted.
The House bill is HB 194, introduced by Representative Diane Franklin of Camdenton. The Senate bill is SB 67, proposed by Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis. Both bills are expected to receive early consideration in their respective chambers.
The measures are a response to nationwide revelations in the summer of 2015 that Planned Parenthood employees and contractors were engaged in the marketing and sale of baby body parts. Undercover videos released by a group called The Center for Medical Progress revealed that Planned Parenthood abortionists were conducting late-term abortions in a way that they would be able to preserve vital organs and tissue for sale.
In one of the videos, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the Senior Director of Medical Services for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated that the St. Louis area was a “untapped supplier” of baby body parts. Dr. Nucatola explained how she has a “huddle at the beginning of the day” with her staff to discuss what types of fetal remains buyers are seeking at the time, and how they can best harvest them from the preborn children of pregnant women they will abort that day.
The bills advanced by Representative Franklin and Senator Onder would require that “all tissue and remains of a human fetus…removed at the time of abortion shall be…submitted to a board eligible or certified pathologist.” Under current law, an abortion clinic or hospital is only required to submit “a representative sample” of aborted fetal tissue.
The new legislation would mandate that the pathologist submit a tissue report to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services documenting whether all the remains of an unborn child were received, and how those remains were disposed of and the location of such disposal. This would obviously impede the ability of abortionists to retain specific organs and tissue for lucrative sale to medical laboratories and research firms.
The provisions of the legislative proposals were the result of hearings conducted by special legislative committees appointed by the Senate President Pro Tem and the Speaker of the House. Those investigative committees attempted without much success to obtain information from Planned Parenthood officials and a St. Louis pathology firm regarding the manner in which they collected, examined, and disposed of fetal tissue of aborted babies.
In other legislation, the Missouri House will once again consider legislation it has previously endorsed which would require that both parents be notified before an abortion can be performed on a minor child. The bill is House Bill 326, sponsored by Representative Rocky Miller of Osage Beach.
Under current state law, a minor must have the written consent of one parent before they may obtain an abortion. However, that parent has no obligation to inform the other custodial parent of the child’s intentions. Federal courts have ruled that states may not require consent from both parents, but may stipulate that both parents be notified.
State Representative Tom Hurst has introduced a bill which would make it a crime for a person to transport a minor child across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion without parental consent. House Bill 1822 is designed in part to combat sexual predators who secure secret abortions for women they have impregnated by taking the child to a state where parental consent is not required.
Legislaton filed by Senator Jeanie Riddle also attempts to address the issue of out-of-state abortions performed on women from Missouri. Approximately half of Missouri women who abort their children leave the state to obtain the abortion from a clinic in a nearby state.
Senator Riddle’s bill, Senate Bill 230, would require that women referred to an out-state facility for an abortion must be provided with informed consent materials furnished under Missouri law. Those materials include information about the development of the unborn child, the risks of abortion procedures, and names and addresses of alternative to abortion facilities and adoption agencies.
Senate Bill 196, introduced by Senator Andrew Koenig of Manchester, would clarify the power of the Attorney General when it comes to prosecuting violations of Missouri abortion laws. The proposed law would make clear that the Attorney General has concurrent jurisdiction with local prosecutors to litigate violations of state laws governing the performance and funding of abortion.