Abortion bill boosting informed consent heads to the governor - KMOV.com

Abortion bill boosting informed consent heads to the governor

Missouri lawmakers have just given final approval to a controversial abortion law.  The legislative session ends this evening.

House lawmakers voted in favor of Senate Bill 793 that says women who are considering an abortion should hear a heartbeat, see an ultrasound, and receive a state-mandated brochure about abortion.

This bill now heads to the governor's desk.

If Governor Jay Nixon signs the bill into law, abortion doctors will be required to offer a woman the opportunity to see an ultrasound and hear a heartbeat, if audible.  New printed materials -- developed by the state -- would detail the risks of an abortion, alternatives, and what the unborn child looks like at two-week increments.  That information would be given to women -- in person -- 24 hours before the procedure.  Some say women need all of the information they can get, while others say politicians are intruding.

Jennifer Morgan is 12 weeks pregnant -- about as far along as the pregnancy she aborted after she was raped 12 years ago.

"I was very scared, I was very angry and wanted absolutely nothing to do with reminders of that incident," Morgan says.

She had an ultrasound but chose not to look at it.

"Had I known, not only all of the physical, but the emotional repercussions of my choice, I would have chosen differently," Morgan says.

The new strategy boosts the existing state law that already requires women to get information on the risks they face, 24 hours before an abortion.  The new law would mandate that consultation be done in person.

"That puts a huge burden on our patients," Planned Parenthood President and C.E.O. Paula Gianino says.  "One out of every six patients drive more than 100 miles to get to us to get the care they need."

As one of only two abortion providers in the state, Planned Parenthood in St. Louis performs some 6,000 abortions annually.  They counsel and give family planning courses to an additional 48,000 people.

Planned Parenthood says lawmakers want to require something they already do.

"It's a non-issue, because women here in St. Louis at Planned Parenthood are required to have an ultrasound," Gianino says.

Physicians would be required to present state-issued pamphlets stating:  "The life of each human being begins at conception.  Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

"This kind of language that the state is now imposing is language that not everyone believes, not all religions adhere to," Gianino says.  "It is really information that's meant to cause more distress for the woman."

Morgan says her message isn't about pro-life or pro-choice.

"I want to approach this as a pro-information," Morgan says.  "Women should have all of the information they can before they make this choice."

The new law would also prohibit any insurance provider from covering abortions -- something many private insurers now cover under special riders.

Planned Parenthood leaders say the bill does not do enough to help women.

"We oppose this bill because it does nothing to help them prevent unintended pregnancy," Gianino says.  "That is the kind of effort that I wish our legislature focused on."

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