Missouri is the latest battleground in the fight to protect women’s access to reproductive health care with multiple extreme bills moving in the state legislature.
This week, the Missouri House passed an extreme bill (HB 1430) that would allow medical staff to deny women access to basic health care, including birth control and emergency contraception — even for rape survivors. This bill is written so broadly that it would also allow medical staff to refuse to refer a woman to another provider for the care she needs. The Missouri Hospital Association and other medical experts oppose this dangerous bill because it could interfere with the provision of medical care to patients.
“To even think that a physician should have the right to not offer a rape survivor emergency contraception, and to not refer the woman to another nearby physician for that care, violates medical ethics,” wrote Dr. Ed Weisbart, a Missouri family physician who has practiced for 34 years and treated tens of thousands of patients, when a similar bill was introduced last session.
As early as next week, the Missouri House and Senate are poised to debate several bills (HB 1313, HB 1307, and SB 519) that could force abortions later in pregnancy by tripling the state’s mandatory waiting period for a woman seeking a safe and legal abortion to 72 hours. If enacted, this legislation would require a Missouri woman to schedule an abortion procedure — in addition to arranging time off work, child care, and travel — at the state’s only remaining abortion provider over the course of multiple days.
“Forcing a woman to wait even longer before accessing medical care does nothing to improve her health and will force abortion later in pregnancy,” said Paula Gianino, president and CEO, ADVOCATES - The Political Arm of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri. “Abortion is a very safe procedure, but it is safer the earlier it is provided. This senseless restriction would put women’s health at risk by delaying medical care, all in the name of politics.”
Numerous existing restrictions enacted in recent years have contributed to severely restricted access to providers of safe and legal abortion statewide, and under current law, Missouri women face numerous barriers when accessing an abortion. For example, a woman must receive state-scripted counseling that includes information designed to change her mind. After the biased counseling, a woman must wait — even if she has traveled many miles from home — and then return to the health center at least 24 hours later before she can have the procedure.
“It’s only five weeks into the Missouri Legislative Session, and politicians have already filed more than twenty bills that are hostile to women’s health,” said Peter Brownlie, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. “We are all better off when personal medical decisions are left to a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor — without interference from politicians.”
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