Missouri Senate stays up late to pass abortion restrictions; House to take up bill next week
Updated at 6:30 a.m. June 15 with Senate passing abortion bill — Missouri senators passed legislation early Thursday that would require annual health inspections of abortion clinics and enact other new restrictions on the procedure.
After a long day of closed-door meetings, the Senate eventually voted 20-8 in favor of the measure, which was sponsored by GOP Sen. Andrew Koenig of Manchester and now heads to the House. A competing bill filed by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, had been considered the main vehicle before Wednesday.
The Senate bill would nullify St. Louis' ordinance banning discrimination in housing and employment based on "reproductive health decisions," such as abortion or pregnancies. It also would give the state's attorney general new authority to prosecute violations of abortion laws, but only if local prosecutors don't act first.
The second special session of the year will resume when the House convenes sometime next week. Republican Gov. Eric Greitens called the session, saying he was partly motivated by a federal judge's ruling striking down some state abortion regulations.
Original story from June 14:
On the third day of the Missouri legislature’s second special session, abortion rights supporters and opponents gathered to make their voices heard in the Capitol.
But the Missouri Senate sat Wednesday. Instead of convening in the morning as scheduled, they negotiated behind closed doors on a smaller-than planned abortion bill that Republicans hope Democrats won’t try to filibuster.
More than 200 abortion opponents cheered on GOP Gov. Eric Greitens as he called on lawmakers to strengthen regulations on abortion providers and overturn a St. Louis ordinance designed to shield women from job and housing discrimination based on their reproductive choices.
Greitens told the crowd at the rally, which was organized by the nonprofit that’s run by his campaign staff, that the ordinance makes St. Louis “a sanctuary city” for women seeking abortions.
“We have to raise our voices together and tell them, ‘Not on our watch! Not on our watch!’”
Earlier in the day, more than 150 abortion rights supporters criticized the special session and demanded lawmakers protect women’s health care. They also called on the legislature to expand Medicaid and add the LGBT community to the state’s anti-discrimination law.
Universalist-Unitarian minister Molly Housh Gordon of Columbia said they have a message for lawmakers.
“We did not send you here to take good reproductive health care away from the women of our state. We sent you here to insure that the ‘welfare of the people shall be the supreme law’ in Missouri,” she said, referencing the state motto.
The Missouri House isn’t scheduled to convene until after Sunday, though a House committee conducted hearings Wednesday on four abortion-related bills, a stop-gap measure in case the Senate is unable to pass its bills this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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