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Abortion Veto Sustained

September 11, 1996
State Capital Bureau
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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's House sustained Wednesday Gov. Mel Carnahan's veto of abortion restrictions passed last spring by the legislature.

Although a majority of the House voted to override the veto - 90 to 66 - the motion failed to receive the two-thirds vote needed for an override.

The bill's sponsor and anti-abortion lawmakers said they were willing to work for a compromise.

The so-called "women's rights medical bill" would have:

The motion to override the veto was made by a Republican House member, rather than the bill's actual sponsor, Rep. Pat O'Connor, D-St. Louis County.

O'Connor said just before the session began Wednesday that because he lacked the necessary votes, it was not worth wasting the time of the House.

He said he was willing to try to work on a compromise for the next session, which begins in January 1997. He also said he probably would not begin work on a revised bill until October.

"I'm willing to work with anybody - the legislature, a senator, the governor - to come up with legislation to help... women's health." O'Connor said.

But Rep. Marilyn Edwards-Pavia, R-House Springs, said women's safety is an issue. It was she who brought up the bill, saying women have the right to know which facilities are safe.

"If the facility had a poor record, it would be documented on record." she said. "Women would have the knowledge if a facility was safe."

"She's not going to have the legislature change her mind," Edwards-Pavia said. "She will have made up her mind and have the legislature to protect her."

Edwards-Pavia said efforts were already being made to work out a compromise. She said she had already talked with Planned Parenthood about the bill.

Although the abortion bill passed last May with exactly the two-thirds vote needed for an override, 18 Democrats who had voted for the abortion bill in May voted against the override on Wednesday.

Rep. Craig Hosmer, D-Springfield, was one of the Democratic vote switches.

Hosmer said he has since concluded there were problems with the bill - that it would place too many restrictions on access to abortions.

Hosmer compared some of the abortion clinic restrictions to other medical fields. He said surgeons are not required to stay in a facility until the patients left, and it was unfair to require a doctor performing an abortion to stay.

Hosmer also said he was willing to vote for an abortion bill if it addressed his concerns.

"It (failing to override the veto) gives us an opportunity to go back and look at it again," he said.

But Assistant Majority Leader Wayne Crump, D-Potosi, said the Republicans brought up the abortion bill for political reasons. He said if Republicans had overridden the governor's veto, it would have been looked bad for an incumbent governor running for reelection in November.

Crump, who voted for the bill last May but against the override, said he had not heard from any of his constituents to vote to override the veto.

But, Crump said, he did hear from the governor.