The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

March 30, 2010

Missouri: Bill would tell prosecutors of teen abortions

The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Abortion clinics would be required to tell prosecutors about teenagers seeking abortions under legislation passed Tuesday by the Missouri House that supporters hope could provide leads on potential rapists.

The legislation also would create a new crime of coercing a woman to have an abortion and expand the information that a physician must provide to a woman at least 24 hours before performing an abortion.

The bill passed the House 113-27, prompting extended applause — and a few tears of joy — from hundreds of abortion rights opponents who were rallying at the Capitol. It now moves to the Senate, where debate has stalled on separate abortion legislation this year.

Missouri’s proposed mandate to inform prosecutors about minors seeking abortions could be a first nationally if it became law, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive-rights issues.

Missouri law already requires the consent of the minor and a parent, guardian or judge before a physician performs an abortion on someone younger than 18. It also requires abortion providers to report evidence of rape or abuse to the state.

The legislation would go further by requiring a physician or abortion clinic to notify prosecutors when someone younger than 18 inquires about getting an abortion — even if she does not go through with it. Notification would have to occur at least a day before an abortion. The only exception to prosecutorial notification would be for court-approved cases.

Sponsoring Rep. Bryan Pratt, a Republican attorney from Blue Springs, said his intent is to provide tips to prosecutors of potential cases of forcible rape, incest or statutory rape. Sometimes, the perpetrator may accompany the teen to an abortion clinic, intimidating her from telling doctors or nurses the truth about how she became pregnant, he said.

“We’re going to shine the light on those who would rape children,” said Pratt, the House speaker pro tem.

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