Missouri sets new rules for abortion providers
By AP from
kansascity.com on the Web, July 12, 2007
JEFFERSON CITY, MO July 06
--Missouri abortion clinics will face new regulations and new restrictions on
teaching sex education classes.
Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation Friday placing more abortion clinics under
government oversight by classifying them as ambulatory surgical centers.
Planned Parenthood claimed the law, HB 1055, could force it to spend up to $2
million to remodel one of its clinics and halt medical abortions at another
The new law, which will take effect Aug. 28, also bars people affiliated with
abortion providers from teaching or supplying materials for sex education
courses in public schools, and it allows schools to offer abstinence-only
It cements into state statute an existing grant program for centers that
encourage women to deliver babies instead of having abortions.
Blunt proclaimed the law “one of the strongest pieces of pro-life legislation in
Missouri history” as he spoke from a cross-shaped lectern during a signing
ceremony in the sanctuary of Concord Baptist Church. The governor also was
scheduled to promote the legislation in Joplin, Hannibal and suburban St. Louis.
The Republican governor said he had no qualms if the stricter state oversight
caused hardships for abortion clinics.
“I say if they can’t meet the same basic requirements that other (medical)
providers do, then they should shut down,” Blunt said.
Missouri Right to Life, which backed the measure, says groups such as Planned
Parenthood have a conflict of interest in supplying materials for sex education
courses, because they could potentially make money off female students who later
visit their clinics.
Blunt alleged that abortion providers were deriving a “significant source of
revenue” by selling sex education materials to taxpayer-financed school
Planned Parenthood said it provided sex education materials to schools free and
that its staff members who teach sexual health and education lessons in 41
Missouri schools were trained not to discuss abortions. A top official at
the organization denied any conflict and called that assertion “political
“Essentially, what Governor Blunt and the legislature are doing is saying that
teens need to be protected from information, not from sexually transmitted
infections or unintended pregnancies,” said Peter Brownlie, chief executive
officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
The state already requires abortion facilities to be licensed, setting forth
specific standards for their staff, operations and buildings. But because
of the definition of an abortion facility — requiring that abortions generate
half its revenues or patients — a St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic is the
only facility in Missouri actually regulated as an abortion clinic.
The Department of Health and Senior Services said the new language about
ambulatory surgical centers would cause three additional abortion facilities to
fall under its licensure, but it declined to identify them.
Planned Parenthood lobbyist Michelle Trupiano said the law could prompt
renovations costing as much as $2 million at its Columbia clinic, which performs
600 to 700 abortions a year.
She said that a Kansas City office, which offers only abortions induced by
medication, would probably quit doing so to avoid renovation costs.
Patients instead would have to travel a few miles west to a Planned Parenthood
facility in Overland Park.
State regulations for ambulatory surgical centers, for example, require halls to
be at least 8 feet wide leading to operating and recovery rooms and at least 5
feet wide elsewhere. Ambulatory surgical centers must also meet
requirements for emergency equipment, infection control, medical staffing and
numerous other things.
Trupiano said Planned Parenthood was weighing whether to file a court challenge
against both the clinic regulations and the sex education restrictions.
Even if clinic renovations began now, they probably could not be done in time
for the law’s effective date, she said.
The legislation also puts into law the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion
Services Program, which lawmakers have funded through the budget for several
years. It provides grants for pregnancy centers that supply financial aid
and parenting instruction to encourage women to give birth instead of have
abortions. The law authorizes a public awareness campaign to promote the
Missouri Right to Life said a common element connects the provisions on sex
education, clinic oversight and alternative-to-abortion grants.
“The theme is to make sure that women, all the way from young girls to crisis
situations, get the best health care possible,” said Susan Klein, a lobbyist for
Missouri Right to Life.