Missouri Votes to Restrict Women's Reproductive Rights
"Is it anti-woman day in the Missouri House? Not sure if it's all that different from the other days, though."
It was a sad tweet from Planned Parenthood Missouri, sad but seemingly true, as yesterday one small victory was overshadowed by a variety of bills meant to stifle women's bodily autonomy.
The good news was that Personhood Missouri failed to gather enough signatures to get a "fertilized egg is a person" amendment onto the ballot for 2010. The not so good news is that Missouri Legislature took up the anti-choice banner on their own, working two new bills to restrict reproductive health access for women.
First, a House committee passed an expanded "informed consent" bill. The information is already provided to a woman in advance of the procedure, but this new requirement would make women receive the information in person rather than on the phone, adding an additional visit to the process and causing more issues with delay and access.
Missouri law already requires that a woman be provided information about her physical and psychological risks at least 24 hours before having an abortion.
The legislation would require that the consultation occur in person instead of over the phone and that women be given details about fetal development. Abortion providers also would have to give women a chance to see an ultrasound and listen to a heartbeat.
A Planned Parenthood spokesperson notes that the information provided to the women is more propaganda than simple fetal development notes.
Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice group, says the rules would be too stringent.
"These new burdensome requirements are unnecessary because women who seek abortions now go through an exhaustive informed consent process," Planned Parenthood of Missouri chief executive officer Paula Gianino said in a telephone interview.
Furthermore, Planned Parenthood says the written information that would be given out is pure right wing rhetoric.
"For instance, that the abortion 'is killing the life of a separate unique living human being.' These are just attempts by anti-abortion and anti-choice groups to try and shame women and make this process all the more difficult for women," said Gianino.
"These are difficult decisions and women don't make them lightly, and women know that this is a decision that becomes part of their lives forever," said Gianino.
But limiting access to abortion isn't enough. Anti-choice legislators feel the need to reduce access to emergency contraception, too.
The Missouri House has voted to let pharmacies decide whether to stock the “morning-after” emergency contraceptive pill.
The provision was added by a 109-42 vote Tuesday to a broader bill on state licensing. The bill now goes back to the Senate.
The measure would bar legal action against pharmacies that refuse to provide the abortion drug known as RU-486 or the emergency “morning-after” contraception sold as Plan B. Pharmacies would not be obligated to advise people how to get the drugs.
Missouri licensing officials say there are currently no state pharmacy regulations on contraceptives.
Supporters say the measure would give pharmacies the freedom to choose what they sell. Critics say it could result in more woman having abortions.
It should come as little surprise that the sponsor of the bill not only seems unclear what the various drugs he's exempting pharmacists from having to dispense do, but may have allowed them to not provide most forms of contraceptives all together.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, states that a pharmacist isn’t required to carry or dispense any medication that is used to induce an abortion. It also says a pharmacy can not be sued for refusing to dispense the drugs, or any other drug categorized as an abortifacient.
Emery said the amendment gives pharmacists protection from frivolous lawsuits and protects their profession. But it’s a move that some Democrats say could stop pharmacists from being required to dispense any type of birth control.
“This would have the impact of allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills,” said Rep. Beth Low, D-Kansas City. “This is basic state interference with one of the most important and sacred personal relationships — the relationship between doctor and patient.”‘
Rep. Jeanette Mott-Oxford, D-St. Louis, said the bill is “medically and scientifically inaccurate,” as it makes comparisons between RU 486 and emergency contraception, the two drugs specifically mentioned in the amendment.
Yes, it seems it really was anti-woman day in the Missouri House.