The Missouri House is set to propose that all parents or guardians of a minor be notified before that minor can have an abortion.
The bill would require that once a parent or guardian of a minor has given consent for that minor to have an abortion, as Missouri law requires, he or she would then notify any other parent or guardian.
Representative Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City) said that could put in danger teens who have been abused and don’t have supportive parents.
“Some live in abusive or neglectful homes where the teenage girl may have enough trust in only parent to share that she is pregnant. Some fear being kicked out of their homes if one parent knows about the pregnancy,” said Morgan.
Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) said Morgan’s point is especially true in the case of minors who have been abused. She says abused teens aren’t always believed or supported by parents.
“For the lucky child who has one parent who believes them and is willing to advocate for them, and then to say that no, they have to have both parents, it’s cruel,” said Montecillo. “And those are the young people that come forward and they tell about their abuse. Most of them won’t.”
Representative Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark) said he filed the bill based on what he experienced when his then-15-year-old daughter became pregnant with his now 10-year-old granddaughter, whom he and his wife raised.
“I got a call and it was from my wife saying, ‘We’re at Planned Parenthood … and you need to get over here. Your daughter’s pregnant,” Miller recalled. “My ex-wife was there, who is the mother of my minor child. I was blessed. She contacted us and said, ‘What are we gonna do?'”
Miller said he’s trying to spur similar conversations.
“I have tried to make this bill as easy on everyone. All I want to do – I don’t want to stop anything, I want to start something. I want to start a conversation among good actors,” said Miller.
Another favorable vote would send the bill to the Senate.
Miller had a similar bill that reached the Senate two years ago. Many expressed concern that it would have led to parents who were abusive or otherwise a threat to the minor being contacted. In response, this year’s legislation says a parent or guardian need not be notified if he or she is guilty of certain crimes, is listed on the state’s Child Abuse or Neglect Central Registry or Sexual Offender Registry, has an order of protection against him or her, has had his or her rights terminated, cannot be found, or is incapacitated.
Opponents also say if passed the bill would not stand up to a challenge of its constitutionality.