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House Committee Considers Abortion Bill

Legislation designed to discourage minors from going across state lines for abortions is before a House committee. This week, the committee listened to testimony from supporters and opponents of the measure. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Republican Representative Jane Cunningham says she decided to sponsor this legislation after reading the story of a mother whose daughter went to Illinois for an abortion'Unlike in Missouri, minors do not need parental consent in Illinois.

Cunningham told a House committee about the story that moved her to file the bill.

Cunningham says her bill would discourage minors from going to other states for abortions.

Specifically, the bill makes anyone who helps a minor get an abortion in another state civilly liable.

Columbia resident Lise Saffron works with troubled teens and testified against the bill at a recent public hearing.

She says the bill would make her re-consider her decision to volunteer.

But bill supporters say parents, not mentors should have the final say when it comes to minors getting abortions.

There is an abortion clinic in Granite City, Illinois, not far from the Missouri state line.

And Mike Sparks worked a Granite City policeman in the 1980's.

He told the House committee that parents sometimes called the police when they found out their daughter was headed to Granite City to get an abortion.

Mike Sparks' wife Kathy says she worked as a medical assistant at Hope Clinic in Granite City for a few months in 1978.

She says she supports legislation that makes civilly liable anyone who helps minors get around parental consent laws.

She explains why she left the clinic after only three months.

But Rebecca Turner, a Disciples of Christ minister says Hope Clinic does not deceive young women.

Turner is the Executive Director of the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which provides counselors for patients of Hope Clinic.

She says young women are given guidance before receiving an abortion.

And Turner says creating more obstacles for minors seeking an abortion won't create positive results.

She says desperate young women will look for unsafe ways to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.

Bill supporters and opponents agree there's no data indicating how many minors from Missouri go to Illinois each year seeking an abortion. Bill supporters estimate it's in the hundreds while opponents say it's far fewer than that.

The legislation needs committee approval before it can move to the House floor for debate.