The Missouri Senate will once again consider stronger abortion clinic regulations during a special session this week. State Rep. Paul Curtman, R- Harrisonville, tells Columbia radio station KSSZ legislation the House has sent back to the Senate includes undoing a Saint Louis ordinance that bans employers from penalizing or firing women based on their pregnancy status. Republicans say such ordinances bar cities and counties from enacting laws which adversely affect crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion.
“The state is legislatively speaking and constitutionally speaking within its rights to reign in municipalities whenever they begin to create outrageous big government type of regulations that quite literally would rob an organization or an individual of the First Amendment,” says Curtman.
The legislation would also require that abortion clinics have annual inspections, meet hospital-like standards and it bans fetal tissue donations. The bill strengthens fetal tissue tracking requirements and makes abortion clinics have a policy for transferring patients to hospitals if health issues occur.
The Senate could tweak the bill, but Curtman expects the legislature to wrap up its session this week.
A special session costs about $22,000 per day to pay for mileage, staff, room and board for policymakers. Curtman says he understands the complaints about the cost of the special session, but he sees the value in the legislation.
“I think anything regarding protecting life certainly constitutes special or extraordinary circumstances but as far as there being an economic deadline or a natural disaster, this is not one of those types of bills,” says Curtman.
Democrats say Republicans are trying to create further obstacles for women who want abortions and for abortion clinics.
In a Missourinet interview last week, the author of the St. Louis ordinance, Megan Green, says the law will stay in effect regardless of what the state legislature does.
“They’re passing laws that either “a”, will not be held up by the Supreme Court and will get struck down…or “b”, don’t actually do anything to impact our local nondiscrimination ordinance.”
The Senate will begin its work on Tuesday.
Brad Tregnago of KSSZ contributed to this story.