Abortion

Governments cannot ban anti-abortion "sidewalk counselors" from a 35-foot buffer zone that includes the sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic unless the governments first have tried less restrictive methods of protecting women from face-to-face intimidation as they enter reproductive health facilities.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 11:40 a.m Thursday, May 15)

After more than an hour of emotional – and often loud – debate, the Missouri House voted to send to the governor a bill that would triple Missouri’s waiting period for abortions to 72 hours from 24 hours.

If approved by Gov. Jay Nixon, the measure would make Missouri only the third state in the nation to mandate a 72-hour wait – and possibly set the stage for a legal challenge.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Republicans in the Missouri Senate succeeded in passing two of their top priorities early Tuesday morning.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

For at least 35 years, Missouri has been one of the major battlefields in the ongoing fight over reproductive rights, contraception and abortion.

Based on the last few weeks in Jefferson City, not much has changed.

“Missouri is one of the really hot states, when it comes to abortion restrictions this year,’’ said Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager with the Guttmacher Institute, a research group advocating sexual and reproductive health rights.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation that would require a 72-hour waiting period for abortions is moving forward in the Missouri House, while its Senate counterpart is stalled.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical personnel who wish to opt out of participating in procedures that violate their religious or personal beliefs are one step closer to being allowed to do so legally in Missouri.

(KWMU)\">\">\">

Tuesday morning, thousands of Missourians — many of them from the St. Louis area — are following a decades-old tradition and boarding buses for an all-night bus ride to Washington.

On Wednesday, the Missouri contingent will join tens of thousands of others from around the country for the annual March for Life in the nation’s capital to protest the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing most abortions.

Paula Gianino is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Provided

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Paula Gianino  has been the regional head of Planned Parenthood for almost a quarter of a century. She plans to step down in a year, according to an announcement late Wednesday by the organization’s board.

Gianino’s retirement in January 2015 would mark her 25th anniversary of the medical organization.

Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Missouri Rep. Paul Wieland and his lawyer see nothing but good news in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that all insurance policies cover contraceptives as of Jan. 1.

Wieland, R-Imperial, has asked the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit of Appeals to hear his legal challenge to that mandate on the grounds that it violates his parental rights.

Missouri State House of Representatives

 A lawsuit filed on behalf of a Missouri state representative is aimed at changing a mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that he says violates his religious rights.

Paul Wieland, a Republican House member from Imperial, says he and his wife are no longer able to opt out of coverage for “abortion-inducing drugs” under a group health care plan provided for legislators.

He says that option has been removed because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Marshall Griffin, KWMU

With just a couple days left before the deadline, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon announced his decision on the few bills he had left. We've compiled those decisions below.

Without his signature, Nixon has allowed legislation that will require doctors to be in the room for the initial dose of a drug used in medication abortions.

Nixon announced Friday he would not sign the bill that effectively prohibits the use of telemedicine to provide medication abortions in Missouri. Without the signature, the bill becomes law.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Updated 11:08 a.m., 12:42 p.m., 3:19 p.m. (with reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey)

A lengthy legal battle over an abortion notification law appears to be ending, clearing the way for Illinois to begin enforcing a 1995 measure requiring doctors to notify a girl's parents before she undergoes the procedure.

Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court ruling says the case shouldn't be reconsidered and has to be enforced - unless there's an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Last week’s spectacle in the Texas Senate got national attention, but some Missouri politicos may have experienced déjà vu while watching a livestream of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster against an abortion bill.

That includes Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, a Kansas City Democrat who followed what she dubbed a "fascinating" situation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When state Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick tweeted earlier this month that this year’s veto session would be “interesting,” he may have made the understatement of the year.

The Shell Knob Republican’s quip was a more than tacit acknowledgement that the Missouri General Assembly sent numerous bills to Gov. Jay Nixon that might not meet his favor, including legislation restricting deduction of union dues to a broad-based tax cut.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri General Assembly is launching into its final week of the session by redirecting its attention to certain issues – such as health care, abortion and labor unions – that had been on the back burner until the state budget was completed.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri Senate Committee has passed legislation that puts restrictions on the use of abortion-inducing drugs. 

The bill would require the prescribing doctor to be physically present whenever a patient takes RU-486 or any other medication designed to terminate a pregnancy.  Supporters say it’s designed to prevent so-called “web-cam abortions,” in which a doctor at another location instructs the patient on taking the medicine.

Susan Klein of Missouri Right to Life testified in favor of the bill before the vote.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Four bills dealing with the ongoing cultural battle surrounding women’s reproductive health were heard Monday night before a Missouri Senate committee.

They include a measure that would require a doctor to be physically present whenever abortion-inducing drugs are administered to a woman.  It’s sponsored by freshman Senator Wayne Wallingford (R, Cape Girardeau).  He says women who take RU-486 or other abortion-inducing drugs at home run a severe risk of complications.

(via Flickr)

Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion.

Groups on both sides of the controversial issue will be marking the day.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis was the first Catholic diocese to organize a Pro Life committee just 6 weeks after the famous court ruling.

Today that committee is called the Respect Life Apostolate.

Executive Director Karen Nolkemper says the Archdiocese will focus on commemoration of the un-born  and recommitting to ending abortion.

(Via Wikimedia Commons/Victor byckttor)

Giving women free access to contraception can dramatically reduce abortion rates.

That's the finding of a new study out today from Washington University School of Medicine.

Researchers gave more than 9,000 St. Louis-area women free birth control for three years.

(Akin: UPI Bill Greenblatt/McCaskill: Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill)

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill says she raised about $5.8 million for her re-election campaign over the past three months.

McCaskill, who's being challenged by Republican congressman Todd Akin, said today her total is the most money ever raised by a Missouri Senate candidate for this quarter.

Candidates are not required to file their quarterly campaign finance reports until Oct. 15. Akin has not yet released his.

(via Flickr/lilhelen)

Brian Mackey contributed reporting for this story.

A decades-long battle over an Illinois law that requires girls to notify their parents before having an abortion was in front of the state's Supreme Court on Thursday.

The parental notification law has been on the books since the 1990s, but a series of federal and state court challenges have kept it from being enforced. It was supposed to take effect in 2006, which set off a fresh round of lawsuits.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Three people killed on Grand Bridge following early morning police chase

The Grand Bridge was closed for several hours early Thursday morning as the result of a vehicle crash that left three people dead and another person critically injured.

The crash happened as the car was fleeing police.

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin's remarks on abortion and 'legitimate rape' are being used by politicians not only on the national stage, but also in congressional races outside the Show-Me state. Catharine Richert of Minnesota Public Radio explains via the link.

Since Republican Rep. Todd Akin first said the words "legitimate rape" Sunday, just about everyone in the Republican Party has condemned those comments.

The Missouri Senate candidate later apologized, but his remarks continue to drive the political debate. They've also raised questions about the anti-abortion record of the Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri House has passed legislation that would bar local governments from interfering with the day-to-day operations of alternatives to abortion agencies.

The bill would forbid municipalities from regulating advertising and advice given out by crisis pregnancy centers run by pro-life groups.  Supporters say they’re trying to protect the First Amendment free speech rights of volunteers and staff at the centers.  The sponsor, State Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger (R, Lake St. Louis), admits it’s a preemptive move.

via Flickr | jennlynndesign

Women seeking prescriptions for abortion-inducing drugs could face greater requirements than those wanting surgical abortions under a bill endorsed by the Missouri House.

Missouri law already requires a woman to have a consultation with a doctor or qualified professional 24 hours before undergoing an abortion.

The bill given initial approval Tuesday would require a woman to receive a physical examination by a doctor 24 hours before the doctor prescribes the abortion-inducing drug RU-486.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Shimkus on Obama's State of the Union address

President Barack Obama delivered an election-year message to Republicans: Game on.

The GOP - in Congress and on the campaign trail - signaled it's ready for the fight.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama issued a populist call for income equality that echoed the Occupy Wall Street movement. He also challenged GOP lawmakers to work with him or move aside so he could use the power of the presidency to produce results for an electorate uncertain whether he deserves another term.

(via Flickr/lilhelen)

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to consider a dispute over whether the state must begin enforcing a law requiring parents to be notified before their children can obtain an abortion.

The law dates back to 1995 but has never been enforced because of various court actions.

It would require doctors to notify the guardians of a girl 17 or younger before she has an abortion. There are exceptions for emergencies and cases of sexual abuse, and girls could bypass the notification requirement by going to a judge.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Pat Quinn says he thinks Cardinal Francis George and other Catholic leaders "made a mistake" criticizing the governor for agreeing to present an award at a ceremony hosted by an abortion-rights organization.

Quinn on Monday said he wishes George would have contacted him before issuing a statement saying the governor was rewarding those who support "the legal right to kill children in their mothers' wombs." Quinn is to present rape victim Jennie Goodman with an award at a luncheon hosted by Personal PAC, which aims to elect pro-choice candidates.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Most of the new laws passed by the Missouri General Assembly this year officially took effect over the weekend, on August 28.

They include the controversial ban on late-term abortions that Governor Jay Nixon (D) allowed to become law without his signature.

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