Another wave of pro-life bills is passing through the Missouri legislature.
Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Jefferson County, is sponsoring HB 680 bill that would establish the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
The bill states that an abortion may not be performed or induced on a woman if the baby has been determined by a physician to have reached the “pain capable gestational age,” which is defined as 20 weeks from fertilization. An exception is given in cases where the mother is at risk of death or serious physical harm. A physician or medical practitioner who violates the law would be subject to discipline from the appropriate licensing board.
Coleman, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Imperial, noted that the bill seeks to shift the legal standard for abortions from gestational age to when an unborn child can feel pain. “There’s a consensus in the medical community that a child can feel pain in the womb by 20 weeks,” she said. “And some research that shows as early as 18 weeks. By moving the legal standard to pain capable, we can run along scientific development.”
Coleman’s bill was combined with another similar measure sponsored by Rep. Adam Schnelting (HB 339).
Rep. Nick Schroer,
R-O’Fallon, also has proposed a measure that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The bill would require physicians to use a fetal heartbeat detection test, and the pregnant woman must be
given the option to view or hear the baby’s heartbeat. A fetal heartbeat typically can be detected as early as six weeks gestation.
Schroer’s bill also provides an exception in the case of medical emergency. Any physician who performs an abortion without administering a fetal heartbeat test first or performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected is subject to discipline and a possible fine.
Schroer, a member of Assumption Parish in O’Fallon, cited his Catholic upbringing in his desire to protect unborn human life through this legislation.
“I hope through this we can have a continued dialogue on when life begins,” he said. “I believe that life begins at conception, and this is giving a voice to the voiceless.”
Both bills were passed in committee session Feb. 19.
Elsewhere, Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, has filed HB 127, which would require the consenting parent of a minor seeking an abortion notify any other custodial parent or guardian in writing before an abortion. An exception is made in the case of medical emergency. The bill also would not apply in cases where the parent or guardian has been found guilty of specified crimes, listed on the sexual offender registry, has an order of protection issued against him/her, had
parental rights terminated or whereabouts are unknown. The measure passed committee Feb. 14.
Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, is sponsoring SB 388, a bill that would create the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.” If passed, any person who knowingly causes the death of a child who was born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion would be found guilty of second-degree murder. Other penalties are imposed for those who recklessly cause an infant’s death or is criminally negligent in the death of a child who was born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion. A similar bill is being sponsored in the House by Rep. Doug Richey (HB971).
Referring to recent abortion legislation in New York and Virginia, Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr noted in a tweet Jan. 30 that recently proposed legislation in Missouri would “create new protections for our most innocent. In Missouri, we stand for the born and we stand for the unborn.”
“There’s no question that the passage of the abortion bill in New York has caused pro-life constituents in Missouri to contact their lawmakers and demand action,” said Deacon Sam Lee, a pro-life lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri. “These lawmakers are listening. They are wanting to do everything they can to protect the unborn in our state.”
Deacon Lee said another reason why legislators here have been interested in proposing pro-life legislation is because of potential changes in the U.S. Supreme Court that might allow greater protection of unborn children and the health
and safety of their mothers.
“We’re very grateful that the Missouri House leadership is advancing a number of pro-life bills that will protect unborn children and support the rights of parents to be involved in their daughter’s decision regarding her pregnancy,” he said.
>> Contact your legislators
Contact your legislators in support of pro-life legislation. To find your House representative, visit house.mo.gov; to find your senator, visit senate.mo.gov.