Members of the House have voted to strengthen Missouri’s informed consent abortion law, but not until the two sides exchange harsh words during floor debate.

HCS HB 1327 & 2000 outlines what information a woman considering an abortion must be told, outlaws coercing a woman to have an abortion and requires the doctor performing an abortion on a girl younger than 17 to report that abortion to the prosecutor for possible filing of statutory rape.

Opponents saw the push as political; a pandering to pro-life supporters lobbying the Capitol. Pro-life groups held a rally in the Capitol rotunda and packed the 4th floor House gallery to watch debate. A few times they applauded House floor speeches and were gaveled by the presiding Speaker, who reminded them that guests cannot react to the speeches made during debate.

Columbia Representative Chris Kelly, a Democrat, called the measure “patently unconstitutional”, saying it was being used to debase the House.

“We ought to talk about the legislation and refrain from using it as a vicious tool to attack people we want to make our political opponents,” Kelly stated during debate. “I’m ashamed of the body today.”

Rep. Bryan Pratt, a Republican from Blue Springs, is the lead sponsor of the bill and carried it during floor debate. Pratt rejected Kelly’s assessment. He said the bill offers a stark choice.

“Well, if you think women should be coerced into having an abortion, vote ‘No’ on this bill,” Pratt stated. “But if you want to vote to protect women and protect women from coercion, you will vote ‘Yes’ on this bill.”

The “Yes” votes far out-number the “No” votes. After two hours of debate, the House approved the measure 113-to-37. It now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]