Abortion on 2014 legislative agenda

A Tuscumbia lawmaker presented a bill to a Missouri House Health Care Policy committee Wednesday that seeks to require custodial parents or the guardian of a minor to be notified in writing at least five days prior to an abortion.

The bill defines custodial parents as “both parents in an intact family or any parent of a minor who has been awarded sole or joint physical custody of such minor by a court.”

Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Tuscumbia, is the sponsor of the bill (HB1192) and said it’s near and dear to his heart.

Many years ago, he was notified by his ex-wife that his daughter was thinking about having an abortion.

“I have a beautiful 8-year-old granddaughter now,” he said. “It could have gone terribly wrong, because we (my wife and I) didn’t have to be notified (by my ex-wife), but we were.”

Patricia Skain, executive director of Missouri Right to Life, said her organization supports the bill and believes that custodial parents have a right to know what’s going on in their child’s life.

“The other issue is that we know abortion causes physical problems, psychological problems and behavioral problems,” she said. “A parent needs to know why their child may be suffering some of these consequences. They need to be able to deal with it.”

Rev. Rebecca Turner with Faith Aloud in St. Louis opposes the proposed legislation because she said having custodial parents is not an ideal situation for some people.

“Many families don’t have that type of relationship,” she said. “We think this is simply demeaning to family and potentially hurtful for a teen. We oppose this because we see it as more attempts to control a teen.”

Ryann Summerford, a Missouri Planned Parenthood advocate, said her agency also opposes the bill, because it threatens the safety of teenagers.

“When it comes to matters of abortion, many times teenagers do go to their parents to help them and counsel them in these situations,” she said. “Mandating is putting the safety of teens at risk in delaying health care.”

Reps. Keith Frederick and Kevin Elmer also presented an abortion-related bill (HB1313 and HB1307) to the committee Wednesday.

It seeks to change the waiting period between when a woman goes for an abortion exam and when the abortion is performed from 24 hours to 72 hours.

“It simply says that we want additional time to be reflective of all the information and the decision process,” said Frederick, R-Rolla.

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