House Republicans have proposed changes to Missouri abortion laws after a summer of hearings based on videos about the sale of fetal tissue. Democrats say the videos were bogus, and the changes aren’t needed.
Chief among the bills offered by Republicans are those that aim for a better accounting of fetal tissue after an abortion, and calling for random inspections of abortion facilities.
Representative Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester) sponsors a bill that would require that all fetal tissue after an abortion be sent to a pathologist, rather than a sample, and that the pathologist must report whether it is all accounted for. It requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to check those reports and investigate discrepancies, and to report its findings to the legislature annually.
Koenig said better tracking would make sure no sales of fetal tissue are occurring.
“I’m not totally convinced that they were actually happening, but I think my constituents want to verify that it wasn’t happening,” said Koenig. “We have a lot of these reports that are sent to the Department but nobody looks at them and there’s no tracking involved.”
His bill also calls for annual, unannounced inspections of facilities that perform abortions, and would make it a class-C felony to offer to pay for or accept payment for fetal remains after an abortion, or to offer compensation to someone to conceive a child or have an abortion for the purpose of using fetal organs or tissue for medical or scientific purposes.
Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) is a member of one of the committees that held joint hearings on Planned Parenthood. She and fellow Democrats released a minority report calling the bills and the hearings that led to them unnecessary.
“It was all based on a dubious video that we all know now has been debunked, not just from the congressional hearings but now the maker of the video and an employee have been indicted by a Texas grand jury,” Newman told Missourinet.
She said the hearings and the bills are politically motivated.
“It was always, ‘Let’s look and see where we can find something that we can base some legislation on for this presidential election cycle,” said Newman.
Koenig said that indictment doesn’t invalidate the hearings the Missouri legislature held, or the resulting legislation.
“If you have someone who’s buying fetal remains, obviously you have to have a seller too, and I think there’s a lot of evidence that at least in Texas, that did take place,” said Koenig.
Four bills sponsored by Representative Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton) would bar the donation of fetal tissue from an abortion for any medical, scientific, or other use; would establish whistleblower protections for employees of facilities that perform abortions; and would mirror the accounting and reporting requirements for fetal tissue found in Koenig’s bill. Another would set in law a definition of “remains of a human fetus” to be, “the dead offspring of a human being that has reached a stage of development so that there are cartilaginous structures or fetal or skeletal parts after an abortion or miscarriage, whether the remains have been obtained by induced, spontaneous, or accidental means;”
The state Senate has legislation dealing with similar issues.