Missouri governor signs new abortion regulations into law
By SUMMER BALLENTINE
Jul. 26, 2017
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday signed a bill that tightens abortion regulations and gives the attorney general new authority to prosecute abortion-law violators.
The new Republican governor had called lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a second special session this summer to focus on abortion policy, citing as motivation a St. Louis ordinance banning discrimination in employment and housing based on "reproductive health decisions." Abortion opponents, including pregnancy care centers, said that ordinance could infringe on their rights. He also wanted new abortion regulations to replace those struck down by a federal judge.
Among other things, the new law will require: annual state health department inspections of clinics; department approval of clinics' plans for when complications occur during medication-induced abortions; stricter requirements on what's done with fetal tissue removed during abortions; limits on which medical professionals can discuss the procedure with women and its risks at least 72 hours earlier and; new authority for the state attorney general to prosecute people who violate abortion law. Supporters say it also will pre-empt parts of the St. Louis ordinance.
The legislation is set to take effect in late October.
Anti-abortion groups have praised the measure and Republican lawmakers tout it as helping women's health and safety. Abortion-rights advocates have criticized the legislation, saying it simply aims to limit women's access to the procedure.
It's unclear what impact the new regulations might have on Planned Parenthood and its efforts to expand abortion access — now only in St. Louis — to clinics in Columbia, Joplin, Kansas City and Springfield. Planned Parenthood representatives said applications submitted to the health department to expand abortion services still are being processed.
Spokesman Jesse Lawder said Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri needs to further review the legislation to determine its impact.
Senators gave the bill final approval Tuesday. Greitens signed it into law during a private event Wednesday in his Capitol office accompanied by supportive Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion activists.