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Greitens signs broader abortion regulations

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Following a second lengthy special session, Gov. Eric Greitens on July 26 signed Senate Bill 5 modifying provisions relating to abortions.

Under the new law, “ambulatory surgical centers” are redefined as “abortion facilities” and will include provisions relating to infection control, licensure standards, staff training, whistleblower protections and a mandatory 72-hour waiting period.

Specific changes include: 
• required annual, unannounced, on-site inspections;
• an approved plan to deal with complications and plans for medical emergencies; 
• educational information must be given a physician prior to consent, rather than a nurse or staffer;
• faster and more thorough records be filed by the abortion facilities in regards to fetal tissue and evidence of procedure complications;
• The Department of Health and Senior Services will give annual reports to the General Assembly including data on abortion procedures;
• Facilities must have a written whistleblower policy, including protections for employees who disclose information about violations; and
• Increased protections for abortion alternative services.

Additionally, the law gives the state attorney general more jurisdiction to oversee possible violations at abortion facilities.

“Today is a great victory for pregnancy care centers that help women and children all over the state,” Greitens said in a news release. “I’m proud that many of Missouri’s lawmakers stood strong to protect the lives of the innocent unborn and women’s health.”

Opponents of the new law also spoke out yesterday.

“This emergency session was political theater for a governor who cares more about grooming himself for higher office than the health and well-being of women across Missouri,” a statement from advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri reads. “Women in Missouri already face some of nation’s most burdensome restrictions when it comes to accessing reproductive health care.”

The bill, which will go into effect in late October, passed by a 22-9 vote and after a Democratic filibuster. Springfield Sen. Bob Dixon, a Republican, voted in favor. 

The second special session cost Missouri taxpayers an estimated $151,000, according to House and Senate tabulations.
 

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