Abortions after doctors have determined an unborn child has cardiac activity would be banned under a bill filed in the Missouri Legislature. Under the bill, private citizens could sue doctors or others who aid abortion seekers for damages if they break the law.
“It takes enforcement from the hands of the state government and puts it into the hands of Missourians,” Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, the bill’s sponsor, told St. Louis Public Radio.
If passed, the bill also would deny public funds to the state’s abortion providers. The bill is modeled after a pro-life measure the Texas Legislature passed earlier this year. It limits abortions after about six weeks and is among the most pro-life laws in the nation. Several Republican-led states are modeling their own laws on the Texas one after the Supreme Court refused to stop its implementation.
Coleman is confident her bill will gain widespread support in Missouri’s Republican-majority statehouse. Gov. Mike Parson in 2019 signed a law that prohibits abortions after eight weeks. Coleman, who is running for state Senate, said her bill’s provision to allow citizen enforcement is similar to the way Medicaid fraud is curtailed.
“It’s by no means really a new way of doing enforcement of laws,” she said. “But it is new in the context of abortion.”
If passed, the law could be used to target St. Louis abortion providers that send many patients to Illinois, Coleman said. Planned Parenthood, the clinic that provides abortions in the state, has said it refers many patients to Illinois, where there are fewer abortion restrictions.
“If Planned Parenthood has a network that is set up to refer women across the river rather than receiving abortion services in the state of Missouri, that would be aiding or abetting receiving an abortion,” Coleman said. “And so this would create a private cause of action against Planned Parenthood by any citizen.”
Pro-abortion activists said abortion is a legal right and that the law will further jeopardize maternal health in the state. They are concerned the law could have chilling effect on abortion access.
–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice