A bill that would create the crime of coercing an abortion is amended in a Senate hearing. Supporters say it would prevent abuse of women; opponents say it’s another political move to intimidate them.

Representative Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs) presented an amendment to a bill that earlier passed the House overwhelmingly and moved on to the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard the amendment to the legislation and then went to executive session to discuss the provision.

Pratt says Child Protective services already track abortions by age, but don’t report them to law enforcement. Senator Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) says there’s a big difference between a pregnant 11-year-old and a 17-year-old, and her concerns are over age discrepancies. She points out any case of a pregnant 11-year-old should raise red flags to physicians and law enforcement.  Current law requires providers of abortion services notify authorities of any pregnancies or abortions for girls under 14. 

Pratt says the revised bill (HB2000) would require providers to notify prosecuting attorneys — both in the county where the patient lives as well as in the county the services were being sought — about any abortions provided to women under the age of 17.

The Missouri Catholic Conference and Right to Life support the bill; Planned Parenthood and the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence oppose the legislation.

Planned Parenthood says current law already provides for investigation into possible sex crimes against women, and this bill is merely a political move intended to intimidate women seeking abortion services.

The Missouri Catholic Conference states the biggest reason it supports the measure is because it would require a physician consultation 24 hours before a procedure could happen.

The bill has not yet been scheduled to come before the full Senate.

Pratt referenced the abuse allegedly committed by five men arrested in Lafayette County last November for sex crimes against children. A witness in the Mohler case says she received an abortion when she was 11 years old.  Pratt says if his bill became law, it could prevent similar crimes from happening in the future.

The original bill cleared the House 113 to 37.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen Mp3, 1:06 min.]

AUDIO: Rep. Pratt presents abortion bill; supporters, opponents testify [Download / listen Mp3, 9:28 min.]

Brent Martin contributed to this report.