Pro-life leaders in the Missouri House and Senate are renewing efforts to pass legislation which would ensure that women considering abortion have an opportunity to see an ultrasound of their child. Bills have been introduced in both
chambers which would strengthen the state's informed consent law. Women would receive extensive and accurate information about the nature and risks of abortion and alternatives to abortion 24 hours prior to the procedure being performed.
The Missouri Legislature adopted a law in 2003 establishing a 24 hour waiting period for abortions. The concept was for a woman to meet with the abortionist 24 hours before the abortion, receive information for her to review, and then have a full day to reflect on it. Unfortunately, the legislation was not
drafted in a way to accomplish its purpose. Most women still do not meet the abortionist till they are ushered into the procedure room, and women are still not being given full disclosure about the consequences of abortion to them and their unborn child.
The Missouri Family Policy Council originated and developed enhanced
informed consent legislation during the 2008 legislative session. That proposal was approved by the Missouri House, but died in the Senate. Last year, strong informed consent bills were adopted by both the House and Senate, but the issue died in the final days of session when the two chambers could not agree on a final version.
The lead sponsor of the Senate proposal again this year is Senator Rob Mayer
of Dexter. The lead sponsor of the House bill is Representative Bryan Pratt of Blue Springs. The centerpiece of both bills is the ultrasound requirement.
The abortion clinic must provide the woman with the opportunity to view an active ultrasound of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat of the child 24 hours prior to the procedure. 18 states have already adopted ultrasound laws. Studies show that more than 80 percent of women who view an ultrasound choose to give birth to the child.
The proposals would further guarantee that women are informed of the humanity of the unborn child. They would be shown pictures of the stages of development of the preborn child, and told of the physical characteristics of the child at two-week gestational increments. The materials given to the women are required to prominently display this statement:
"The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."
Women would also be advised of the immediate and long-term medical risks of abortion. Women continue to have severe complications from "safe and legal" abortions, and ambulances pull up at abortion clinics far too often. Just three weeks ago a 37-year old single mother of four died in a New York clinic when the abortionist severed an artery and she bled to death.
The abortion clinic would also have to make women aware of the adverse emotional and psychological effects of
abortion. Numerous studies have documented this reality. One of the most recent ones, printed in the British Journal of Psychiatry
, reported that 85 percent of women who had abortions experienced negative mental health issues. Another study, printed in the journal Traumatology
, found that women who had abortions experienced most of the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder.
Information given to the woman would also explain the harm abortion can do to subsequent pregnancies and the ability
to carry a subsequent child to term. Approximately 60 studies have identified a link between abortion and premature births and low birth weight babies. A recent study in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
confirms that the elevated incidence of these outcomes for women with one prior abortion is 35%, and for women with more than one abortion 72% or more.
The provisions of the bills also require that women be furnished with information about alternatives to the abortion
decision. They would be given the names, addresses, and phone numbers of pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies. Information would also be supplied on the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Program, which provides assistance to women who choose to carry their child to term during pregnancy and for up to one year following the birth of the child.
Leadership in both the House and Senate express determination to enact the informed consent bill this year. Yet opponents will be equally determined, because they know that they will have no success challenging this bill in court if it became law. It
is expected that the House will once again approve the bill on an overwhelming bipartisan basis. Support for the bill is very strong in the Senate as well, but sponsors will have to overcome a formidable filibuster.
Please pray that legislative leaders will do what is necessary to get this bill enacted into law, so that women in Missouri are no longer victimized by the lies of the abortion industry.