The new year has just begun, and for Missouri, that means anti-women’s health politicians have resumed trying to chip away at women’s health and rights. Already, they have introduced fifteen of out-of-touch and extreme bills to restrict access to safe, legal abortion, including:
- Legislation that would extend the state’s 24-hour waiting period to a 72-hour waiting period before a woman could get a safe and legal abortion. This bill is designed to demean and shame a woman in an effort to try to change her mind. And for some women, it could pose a senseless health risk by forcing abortions later in pregnancy.
- A mandatory ultrasound bill that would require the health care provider to review the ultrasound with the woman and give her an ultrasound image to take with her, even if she objects.
These types of biased counseling bills are designed to place unnecessary hurdles before a woman seeking to make a personal and private medical decision. They do not enhance health information, but have the compound effect of making a woman feel ashamed, while also adding costs to a safe and legal procedure.
Legislators also introduced two other bills targeting women’s health :
- A TRAP (targeted restrictions of abortion providers) bill that would require the Missouri Department of Health to conduct at least four unannounced inspections of health centers that provide abortion, each year.
- A bill that would preemptively exempt so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (referred to as “Pregnancy Resource Centers” or PRCs in the legislation) from any regulation.
We all agree that medical procedures, including abortion, should be safe. Like all quality health care providers, abortion providers in Missouri adhere to numerous state and federal regulations to ensure patient safety. Planned Parenthood supports regulations to uphold safety; however, excessive regulations that single out abortion providers go too far. It’s part of the dangerous agenda that has drastically restricted access to safe and legal abortion in states like Texas and Mississippi.
Not only are anti-women’s health politicians dialing up the efforts to eliminate access to abortion through the introduction of further TRAP bills and regulations on health care centers, but at the same time they are introducing a bill to exempt so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) from being regulated. It’s a well known fact that many CPCs provide false and misleading information to women in an attempt to dissuade them from obtaining abortions, as well as discouraging the use of contraceptives. This reality led Congress to release a report outlining the instances of false and misleading information. In Missouri specifically, where only four percent of counties have an abortion provider, CPCs are common. Despite the fact that they receive funding from the State of Missouri, they operate without medical regulation. They are not required to have medical professionals, even if the center performs ultrasounds, and are often staffed by volunteers. In a state that only has one remaining abortion provider, anti-women’s health politicians in Missouri are doing whatever they can to limit a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions.
Between the mandatory ultrasound bill, the mandatory waiting period, TRAP restrictions, and a new two parent notification bill (which adds the requirement of providing notice to both parents to a law that already requires one parent to consent ), anti-women’s health politicians are willing to do whatever it takes to limit women’s access to safe and legal abortion. We can’t let them get away with this. There are very real consequences to these hurdles and road blocks they are setting up, with many women forced to travel to other states and more complicated procedures as a result. As the hearings on these bills begin, you can bet women’s health supporters will be out in force, defending their constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion.