Missouri lawmakers are considering a far reaching proposal dealing with abortion.
Among other things, the measure requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct annual, unannounced, on-site inspections and investigations of abortion facilities.
Currently, the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis is the state’s only abortion provider.
During a legislative hearing, the proposal’s sponsor, Republican Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis and Democrat Jill Schupp of Creve Couer exchanged sharp words when Schupp inquired about inspections of ambulatory surgery centers.
Onder replied “No, ambulatory surgery centers as a whole are not required to be inspected”. Schupp then said “So we’re just singling out this one because it performs abortions”. Onder then responded “Well, ya and because of the frequent EMS calls and because of the seriousness of the things that (occur there).”
Onder and Schupp strongly disagreed over the safety of the St. Louis clinic. Onder disputed Scupp’s claim that it has better health outcomes than surgical centers. “First of all, I’m not sure I agree with your premise” said Onder. “Cecile Richards, national director of Planned Parenthood, made a statement that abortion clinics are safer than colonoscopy centers, and that is untrue.”
During the hearing, Schupp also challenged a claim made by retired nurse Bonnie Lee that conditions at the clinic are unsafe.
Schupp: “I’m sorry, maybe I’m missing something. So you’ve been to the Planned Parenthood where abortions are performed in St. Louis?” Lee: “I have not been inside that building, but I have been reading and logging the deficiencies from the reports from the Department of Health and Senior Services.”
Lee’s is part of a group of anti-abortion activists which has been tracking ambulance calls to the St. Louis clinic. The group has not identified what services the women sought there or how they were injured.
Planned Parenthood’s Missouri affiliates filed a federal lawsuit in November challenging the state’s regulation of abortion clinics. The lawsuit targets the law which requires abortion clinics to meet standards for surgical centers and for their doctors to have hospital privileges. Missouri was the first state to adopt the rules.
The Senate version of the proposal to require abortion clinic inspections also bars the donation of fetal organs or tissue resulting from an abortion, and clarifies how fetal organs and tissues are examined by a pathologist.
A Senate committee could vote on the measure as soon as Wednesday.