Bills meant to toughen laws regarding the handling of fetal remains after an abortion are still in play in the state legislature, with little more than two weeks left in its session.

Representative Diane Franklin  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Diane Franklin sponsors the House legislation dealing with the handling of fetal remains.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The bills would set tougher tracking and accounting requirements for fetal remains. Sponsors say that’s to make sure none are being sold, as was alleged in a series of videos released last year. Critics say those videos have been discredited and say the bills will make it harder for women to have an abortion.

Senator Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) argues the bills have nothing to do with whether a woman has an abortion.

“We have certain regulations we have to follow if you or I were to pass away, and what happens to our remains as well,” said Riddle.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman M’Evie Mead agreed with Riddle, but said the additional regulations created by these bills would make it harder to provide abortions.

“They’re additional, redundant, and not necessary, and they’re singling out one procedure for these additional, unnecessary regulations,” said Mead.

Sarah Rossi with ACLU Missouri said the Supreme Court is considering laws just like these proposals, that she also claims could make the providing of abortions harder.

Senator Bob Onder

Senator Bob Onder sponsored the Senate version of legislation regulating the handling of fetal remains.

“There’s a reason they’re called ‘trap bills,’ and it’s because the more regulations that exist for one provider, the greater chance there is that a mistake is going to be made, and when those providers start to make mistakes that’s when the state legislature and regulatory agencies will come down on their head and try to shut them down. That’s what these bills do,” said Rossi.

Sponsors say investigations by Missouri legislative committees raised questions about whether all fetal remains are accounted for after an abortion, and whether state agencies are doing enough to make sure those remains are disposed of according to law. Representative Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester) said by toughening the handling and monitoring requirements for fetal tissue, the bills would ensure illegal sales of that tissue don’t happen.

“It’s really simple. You either believe it’s okay to sell baby remains or you don’t. If you believe it should not be, then this bill puts in parameters so that way we know and can track that and make sure it’s not happening in this state,” said Koenig.

The bill’s backers maintain those videos have not been discredited and say they raise legitimate concerns.

A House version of the legislation is being considered in a Senate committee, while a Senate bill is awaiting a vote to be sent to the House.