The Missouri House voted 110-38 on Tuesday to approve an abortion-related bill supported by Governor Eric Greitens (R).
Greitens called a special session earlier this month, and has urged lawmakers to pass legislation to protect pregnancy resource centers and to implement health and safety standards in abortion clinics.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, praises the House vote to approve Camdenton State Rep. Diane Franklin’s (R) bill.
“We came in (to the special session) with two important missions,” Richardson tells the Capitol Press Corps. “One, to try to put a set of reasonable regulations in place to protect the health and safety of women, and also to make sure that our pregnancy resource centers in this state are protected.”
Franklin’s bill requires annual inspections of clinics, and also includes fetal tissue language and whistleblower language. The bill approved by the House would also nullify a St. Louis City ordinance that bars discrimination based on pregnancy decisions.
State Reps. Ben Harris, D-Hillsboro, and Joe Runions, D-Grandview, voted for Franklin’s bill.
The measure now heads back to the Missouri Senate, which passed a different version last week in a 20-8 vote. The Senate will hold what’s called a “technical” session on Thursday, but the full Senate won’t be in Jefferson City.
Tuesday’s House debate took about five hours.
State Rep. Cora Faith Walker, D-Ferguson, wanted lawmakers to address infant mortality rates. Walker tells House colleagues Missouri’s infant mortality rate surpasses the national average, and she talks about St. Louis.
“The infant mortality rate actually rivals that of developing countries,” Walker says. “It’s about 10.5 out of every 1,000 children that are born do not see their first birthday.”
State Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, says there’s a connection between poverty and infant mortality. Peters represents north St. Louis in the Missouri House.
“Each of us (House members) represent approximately about 35,000 constituents and with me, nearly 28 percent of the families are below the poverty level in my district.”
Peters says his legislative district has the highest infant mortality rate in Missouri.
State Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, also spoke on the House floor, saying stopping murders in St. Louis is a pro-life issue.
Franklin’s bill does not address infant or maternal mortality rates. Walker, Peters and Franks voted against the bill.
The Missouri House has scheduled a technical session for June 30.