An abortion provider says proposed changes to abortion regulations could hurt his ability to care for women in Missouri. That’s what he told a Senate committee, holding the first hearing on the first bill stemming from hearings on Planned Parenthood that took place over the summer.
Legislative committees began those hearings in response to videos released by a pro-life activist group alleging Planned Parenthood has illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue. Senator Bob Onder’s (R-Lake Saint Louis) bill aims to tighten up several areas of state law that Republicans believe leave loopholes that could contribute to the illegal sale of fetal tissue not being caught in Missouri.
Planned Parenthood says those videos were manipulated and misleading and asserts that in Missouri or nationally, it has not sold fetal tissue.
One provision of Onder’s bill would require that all fetal tissue remaining after an abortion be sent to a pathologist, and that a pathologist certify that it is all disposed of according to law. The medical director of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis and Southeast Missouri, Dr. David Eisenberg, told the committee that could have consequences Onder did not consider.
“Specifically those women who are suffering a very catastrophic outcome of a highly desired pregnancy, where there’s something wrong with the pregnancy, where the baby is effected in a way that there’s a lethal abnormality, some of the testing that’s done requires the specimen to be separated and a portion of it to be sent for specialized testing, like genetics for instance,” said Eisenberg. He said that provision in Onder’s bill could prevent such testing that might help the woman in such a case in future pregnancies.
He said that piece could also interfere in the investigation of and prosecution of some rape cases.
“I think of a 14-year-old girl who I’ve cared for who was the victim of an assault and found herself pregnant,” said Eisenberg. “During the procedure, after the pregnancy was removed, a portion of the tissue was separated and I handed it to a detective who was standing outside the operating room waiting for it so it could go to the crime lab and be used in the successful prosecution of her assailant. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that if this bill passes as is.”
Onder said he would consider changing his bill to allow for testing in such cases.
Eisenberg also objected to a provision of Onder’s bill to specify that fetal tissue may not be gifted or donated for medical, scientific, experimental, therapeutic, or other uses. He said many women ask about making such a donation after an abortion as a way to have emotional closure and so that others could benefit. He said that could also deter the development in Missouri of science and technology to promote the health and well-being of people.
“[It] might prohibit those companies that might look to do research in this state. It might prohibit those individuals who might bring jobs with them with their research endeavors,” said Eisenberg.
Senator Jeannie Riddle (R-Mokane) told Eisenberg his concern about research is misplaced.
“Worrying about how many jobs we’re going to bring in on research by killing the number of babies I think is a questionable statement,” said Riddle.
The committee has not voted on Onder’s bill.