JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A panel of Missouri lawmakers endorsed a bill Wednesday that would ban abortions of viable fetuses after the 20th week of pregnancy unless the abortion was necessary to save the life or physical health of the mother.
The House Health Care Policy Committee voted 9-1 to pass the bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka.
Jones' proposal would require doctors to determine whether a fetus older than 20 weeks would be viable outside of the mother's womb using tests of the fetus' gestational age, weight and lung function. Abortions at that stage of a pregnancy make up only a small percentage of the procedures in Missouri, according to government statistics.
The bill changes the definition of viability to include life that can be "sustained" outside of the womb with or without life support instead of life that can be "continued indefinitely."
If the fetus is found to be unviable, a doctor would have to report to the state why the child was unviable after performing the abortion. For viable fetuses, a second doctor would have to confirm that the abortion is necessary to save the mother's life or major bodily function before performing the abortion.
Pamela Sumners, the executive director of the pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, said her group opposes the bill, especially the requirement for a second doctor to approve of an abortion.