St. Louis Public Radio News
6:22 am
Thu March 5, 2009

Mo. House endorses abortion coercion bill

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would make it illegal to coerce a woman into having an abortion.

The approval came after Democrats made numerous attempts to add amendments to the bill, some of which would have crippled it.

The GOP majority allowed votes on a few amendments, while several more were ruled out of order.

That raised the ire of State Representative Don Calloway (D, St. Louis).

"And it's a silly political game that we're playing if we call this out of order, instead of respecting the rights and protecting the safety of the women of Missouri, Mr. Speaker...I would ask that we have a vigorous and fruitful debate," Calloway said from the House floor.

The 115-41 vote broke down mostly along party lines. The Republican Floor Leader, Steven Tilley (R, Perryville), says he know of at least eight Democrats who supported it.

The bill would also require that clinics provide women with certain information, including the name and phone number of the doctor, the nearest hospital, abortion alternatives, and access to an ultrasound.

Backers include House Speaker Pro-tem Bryan Pratt (R, Blue Springs).

"If you think that we should shield this basic information from mothers, mothers who are facing the most difficult decision of their (lives), then vote against this bill, because this bill isn't for you!" Pratt said.

State Representative Jonas Hughes (D, Kansas City) argued that House members shouldn't be acting as moral police officers, and that the bill represented government intrusion into a woman's private life.

A final House vote on the bill is scheduled next week. It's expected to pass, then move on to the Missouri Senate.