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Penalty for assisting abortion in case of ectopic pregnancy removed from measure in Missouri House

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Doug Frank and republican representatives speak at Missouri State Capitol

Missouri state Rep. Brian Seitz, R-Branson, spoke at the Missouri Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022 to a group of around 100 demonstrators who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Photo by Daniel Shular, dshular@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — Following an outpouring of outrage, a plan to outlaw abortions in the case of life-threatening ectopic pregnancies was removed from a House bill Tuesday afternoon.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Brian Seitz, R-Branson, creates the offense of trafficking abortion drugs. Under the bill, people who move, make or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in violation of state or federal law could be charged with a class B felony and eligible for five to 15 years in prison.

Previously, the bill increased the penalty to a class A felony if the drugs were given to a patient with an ectopic pregnancy, along with several other circumstances.

After a tumultuous hearing on the bill two weeks ago, the House Special Committee on Government Oversight amended the bill to no longer specifically reference ectopic pregnancies. The updated version received committee approval.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. In these cases, the egg cannot survive, and the growth may cause life-threatening bleeding if left untreated.

Much of the criticism targeted the bill sponsor, who did not seem to understand what an ectopic pregnancy was.

“I want to give credit to the committee process here because I, just as many people on my side, had deep and serious concerns about the bill’s first language. I appreciate the fact that people were willing to listen and address a lot of the problems that people have,” said Rep. Wes Rogers, D-Kansas City, adding that he still wouldn’t support the measure.

The new version also clarifies that a woman receiving a medication abortion is not subject to prosecution. It removes provisions criminalizing trafficking “abortion devices” and increasing penalties based on situation and location.

The House committee approved the updated bill, which must gain the approval of the full chamber before advancing to the Senate for consideration.

The legislation is House Bill 2810.

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