Bill amendment sneaks in chemical abortion ban
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Bill amendment sneaks in chemical abortion ban

Date: March 4, 2008
By: Rebecca Beitsch
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1619

JEFFERSON CITY - A House bill originally designed to enable the Health Department to monitor the sales of prescriptions is getting bogged down with several amendments, one of which would ban the chemical abortion.

The amendment, approved by the House on Tuesday in a 113-36 vote, would classify mifepristone, used to induce an abortion, as an illegal drug.

"I'm a pro-life Democrat and a firm believer in maintaining the life of a fetus," said the amendment's sponsor, Rep. Ray Salva, D-Jackson County. Salva said mifepristone causes the fetus to separate from the uterus, which is different from the "morning-after pill," which prevents ovulation.

"The difference between it and the morning-after pill is that the morning-after pill aborts the egg before it travels and attaches itself the uterus, which of course women experience during their menstrual cycle every month," Salva said.

The amendment was attached to a bill to require electronic monitoring of prescription drugs. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kenneth Jones, R-California, said he wasn't thrilled about the addition of the abortion issue into his bill but adds that he doesn't think it will affect the passage of his bill.

"He put it under a Class I drug, and Class I drugs have a lot of addictive qualities, but no medical qualities," he said. "It just doesn't fit there. Whether you put it there or not, it doesn't fit with the federal standards for a Schedule I drug."

A representative for Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Missouri said the organization thinks the amendment has nothing to do with the original intent of the bill and said that mifepristone does not fit as a Schedule I drug.

"You can't get it from a pharmacy," said Planned Parenthood spokesperson Michelle Trupiano. "It's not a prescription. You can only get it from an abortion provider."

Questions also were raised about the prescription-drug database that would be created and maintained by the state under the bill.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri has said it has reservations about the bill and the privacy issues it brings up. Spokesperson John Coffman said they oppose the legislation unless improvements can be made regarding the privacy aspects.

Before adjourning on Tuesday, the House adopted an amendment that would make it a class D felony to violate confidentiality provisions involving the database. A class D felony could result in a maximum of four years in prison.

The House did not take a final vote on the bill.