JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
As the future of Roe V. Wade looms over people living in the United States, several anti-abortion bills are working through Missouri's legislature, and one lawmaker is working to add more.
State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman's (R - Jefferson County) measure would make it illegal for anyone out of state to provide, aid or advertise abortion to a Missouri resident.
"The provisions I filed around abortion is to make sure that women and children in Missouri are protected from those that are preying on them from out of state," Coleman said.
The amendment would use Texas-style enforcement provisions and would have civil penalties.
"And if you call the Missouri clinic they schedule you an abortion in Illinois, and that is really trying to evade the laws of the state of Missouri and creates a Texas-style private enforcement so that the citizens in the state can make sure the laws in Missouri are actually enforced," Coleman said.
The amendment wouldn't directly punish the person having the abortion, but the provider. Any private citizen in Missouri could sue the out-of-state provider.
Missouri has some of the strongest anti-abortion bills in the country, but Coleman said thousands of women travel across state lines to go to abortion organizations that are "preying on them."
"If a woman is harmed receiving an abortion out of state just like if she's in a car accident out of state she can sue in the Missouri courts and doesn't have to travel to Illinois for example to sue the provider," Coleman said.
The amendment is also working to make abortion drugs completely illegal in the state. Mailing, possessing or delivering the drugs would be illegal.
The State Health Department says thousands of women go across state lines to get an abortion. According to the State Health Department abortion decreased by 27% in the state due to thousands of women traveling out of state for the procedure.
One Missouri lawmaker, State Rep. Emily Weber (D - Jackson County) says laws like these will only harm women in the state.
"I don't believe that that legislation is going to help anybody, it's going to hurt people again. And this is going to marginalize women who don't have access to health care or basic needs," Weber said.
Weber said creating laws like these will not stop abortion from happening.
"If we make it illegal, it'll still be here but it just put a death sentence on the lives of pregnant women," Weber said.
According to WHO and the Guttmacher Institute, at least 22,800 women die annually as a result of complications of unsafe/illegal abortion.
Weber said there are a lot of issues state lawmakers should be focussing on.
"Right now, with everything going on, we shouldn't be worried about this. We should be working on our budget, our congressional maps, things that are going to help Missourians to get on their feet because they've been hurt from the pandemic," Weber said.
The amendment is waiting for the floor leader to bring it up for debate.