STL Post-Dispatch: Women seeking out-of-state abortions could receive information packet under measure

February 02, 2016 9:14 am  • 


JEFFERSON CITY • If Ellen Alper needed surgery, she said she wouldn’t ask the state what’s going to happen during the procedure: she’d ask her doctor.

That’s why Alper, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, said she doesn’t like the law requiring abortion providers to give women state provided materials that include potential risks of an abortion, fetal development and the statement “the life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being”

Therefore, Alper said she also is concerned about a proposal requiring the packet be given to a woman if an abortion provider or family planning agency in Missouri provides the name, address, telephone number or website of an out-of-state abortion provider.

Proponents of the measure, sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, argue Missouri women deserve information that will help them make an informed decision about terminating a pregnancy, regardless of whether they cross state lines to do it. Opponents such as Alper, however, are concerned about the information being medically accurate.

“As a female I think women are entitled to factual information such as … the medical risks associated with each abortion method,” Riddle said Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing on the measure. “All I’m trying to do is give women in Missouri information.”

M’Evie Mead, state director of organizing for Planned Parenthood, argues some of the information isn’t factual, however. For example, she said the statement about life beginning at conception is not a medical statement and the information about fetal pain “has not been scientifically proven.”

Mead also is concerned about how Planned Parenthood will comply with the measure should it pass. Planned Parenthood receives a lot of phone calls from women simply trying to figure out where abortions are provided near them, she said.

Kerry Messer with the Missouri Family Network, said this information will help women who are unsure of how to proceed.

“Many will take the time to read through the material,” Messer said.

Riddle’s measure also would require providers to offer to send the materials to a woman who does not seek information about an out-of-state abortion provider in person. That woman would not have to pay for the shipping.

This provision worried Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur. Shipping the information could become problematic if the woman is in an abusive relationship and doesn’t want her partner to know.

To this concern, Riddle noted that the woman could choose where the information was sent. It wouldn’t have to come to her home address, she said.

The committee did not vote on the measure Tuesday.

The bill is Senate Bill 883.

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