Mo. House OKs tougher abortion pill rules

The Missouri House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to legislation that would require a doctor be present for the administration of any drug used to induce an abortion.

Drugs can be used to induce abortions early on in pregnancy. Currently, women take an initial round of medication in front of a doctor and then can take a second drug at home, 24 to 48 hours later. They are supposed to return to the doctor within a few weeks.

Under the legislation, the physician prescribing or dispensing drugs used for an abortion would need to be present. Doctors or their representative also would be required to make a reasonable effort to ensure the woman returns for a follow-up visit 12 to 18 days later.

Supporters said the measure would ensure there is face-to-face contact between women and a doctor, which assists in guaranteeing proper informed consent and that any questions are answered. Opponents of the legislation said legislation would be an extra burden on a procedure that is considered safe.

Rep. Jeannie Riddle, who sponsored the legislation, said the direct involvement of a doctor is important because there have been serious side effects. She said it is not as simple as taking an aspirin.

“This is not about whether or not a woman decides whether to abort,” said Riddle, R-Mokane. “This is about her health and safety in that decision.”

Michelle Trupiano, the statewide manager of government affairs for Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri, said the legislation would require women who are seeking non-surgical abortions to make an extra trip. She said it would be “extremely burdensome” and could put women’s safety at risk.

“This bill is about politics and about restricting access to abortion and has nothing to do with women’s health and safety,” Trupiano said.

The House legislation gained first-round approval 119-41, and it needs another affirmative vote before moving to the state Senate. Lawmakers have until May 17 to pass new legislation before their mandatory adjournment.

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