Missouri in 2014 led all state legislatures in introducing bills designed to restrict reproductive rights. It appears that lawmakers in the state are working to ensure that Missouri may once again earn that distinction in 2015.
There are seven bills to restrict reproductive rights that have been pre-filed by Missouri lawmakers, as of the publication of this article. The bills were filed by lawmakers with records of introducing and supporting anti-choice legislation.
Every bill to restrict reproductive rights is nearly identical to those introduced by the same lawmakers during the 2014 legislative session. Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, told Rewire that this kind of practice by state lawmakers is not unusual.
“We often see lawmakers introduce the same legislation year after year,” Nash said.
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The bills include a variety of restrictions, including changing the laws governing parental consent for minors seeking abortions, increasing the number of inspections the state is required to perform on abortion clinics, and awarding fathers what amounts to veto power if they don’t want an abortion to be performed.
Missouri, a state of more than six million people, has one abortion clinic.
State Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) pre-filed a bill that would mandate state health officials to conduct annual inspections of abortion clinics. Wallingford introduced a similar bill during the 2014 legislative session.
SB 33 would required the state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to conduct four annual inspections of all abortion providers, and give the DHSS the power to force the immediate closure of clinics they deem to pose a “serious risk of harm” to patients.
The bill is part of a continued effort by anti-choice lawmakers in the state to target the only abortion clinic in the state. Lawmakers have introduced several bills with regulations targeting the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis.
HB 99 was pre-filed by Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Osage Beach), and would amend Missouri’s parental notification law by requiring a consenting parent or guardian of the minor to notify any other custodial parent or guardian in writing at least five days prior to the abortion being performed.
The bill would also change the laws regarding so-called alternatives-to-abortion agencies, commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPC).
Miller’s anti-choice bill would prevent the state or any state agency or municipality from creating an “order, ordinance, rule, regulation, policy” that would regulate CPCs, which are largely operated by anti-choice extremists who regularly distribute misleading information about pregnancy and abortion to women seeking an abortion.
Miller filed an identical bill during the 2013 legislative session, and the bill was passed by the house but died in the senate.
Rep. Sonya Anderson (R-Springfield) pre-filed HB 81, which would change the laws regarding consent for a minor seeking an abortion. The bill would make it illegal for a physician to provide abortion care to a minor “unless such physician first obtains the notarized written consent of both the minor and one of her parents or her legal guardian.” Under current Missouri law, a parent is already required to consent to a minor’s abortion.
Anderson filed an identical bill in 2014.
Both Miller and Anderson co-sponsored several other pieces of anti-choice legislation, including a ban on using telemedicine procedures to administer medication abortions and increasing the number of required state inspections on abortion clinics.
Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) pre-filed HB 131, which would prohibit an abortion from being performed until the father provides written, notarized consent to the abortion. Brattin introduced an identical bill during the 2014 legislative session.
The bill includes an exception for women who are pregnant as the result of rape or incest. However, Brattin says that this exception only applies to women who are the victims of “legitimate rape.”
“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin told Mother Jones. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped,’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.”
Brattin’s use of the phrase “legitimate rape” harkens back to former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin using the same phrase while a candidate for U.S. Senate. The comment drew a firestorm of controversy and was the beginning of the end for his campaign.
“Those kinds of comments are disappointing—we’ve been through this,” Nash said. “You would think at this point, particular lawmakers in Missouri would understand that women who have been sexually assaulted are carrying a huge emotional burden and attempting to report a rape to the legal authorities can be extremely difficult.”
HB 151, pre-filed by Rep. Jeff Messenger (R-Republic), would prohibit any public funds or governmental economic incentives to be awarded for projects involving abortion services, human cloning, or prohibited human research, which is already prohibited under state and federal law.
Messenger introduced an identical bill during the 2014 legislative session.
Rep. Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) pre-filed HB 182, which would change the laws regarding custody and visitation rights of a father who “attempted to coerce the mother of his child to obtain an abortion.” Haahr introduced an identical bill this year.
HB 124, pre-filed by Rep. Linda Black (R-Desloge), would require the DHSS to create a video that must be provided to a woman considering an abortion. The video would include information that is already required by state law to be given to women seeking abortion care.
Black introduced an identical bill during the 2014 legislative session. An analysis of the bill by Planned Parenthood said that the video would include medically inaccurate information designed to discourage women from terminating a pregnancy. The information would be repeated three times: in person, in writing, and in the forced viewing of a video.
Black has served in the house since she was elected in 2008, and has served three terms in the state legislature as a Democrat. Just one day after being elected as a Democrat to her fourth term in the house, Black announced that she was switching parties and caucusing with the Republicans.
Black’s decision to switch parties makes her legislative record more aligned with her party. During the 2013 legislative session, Black co-sponsored several anti-choice bills, including a bill that would have forced women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion.
Black, in a statement announcing her decision to switch parties, said that she found it “difficult to square my social and moral beliefs, and, I believe, the social and moral values of voters in my district, with some of the views of the Democratic Party.”
The Missouri legislature convenes on January 7 and lawmakers have until the day before the session begins to pre-file bills.