Mo. House committee passes bill restricting "late term" abortions | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo. House committee passes bill restricting "late term" abortions

Feb 16, 2011

Missouri House committee has passed a bill that would bar abortions of fetuses deemed capable of living outside the womb.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks unless two doctors verify that a fetus is either not viable or is a medical threat to the mother.

State Representative David Sater (R, Cassville) chairs the House Health Care Policy Committee.

"We're dealing with late term abortions," Sater said.  "I don't think that anybody that has, in my estimation, a heart at all would want to destroy a baby over 20 weeks in the womb."

Paula Gianino is President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.  She says the bill is unnecessary because Roe v. Wade does not give women the right to abort a viable fetus unless the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother.

Meanwhile, State Representative Margo McNeil (D, Hazelwood) cast the committee's lone "no" vote.

"Women who need an abortion, perhaps they have a severe abnormality, will not be able to get the abortion because doctors or hospitals fear that somehow they will be entangled in a legal mess," McNeil said.

Under the bill, doctors who abort a viable fetus that doesn't threaten the mother's life or health could spend up to a year in prison and be fined between $10,000 and $50,000.

It next goes to the House Rules Committee, and if it passes there, will move to the House floor for debate.