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Bill would require waiting period for abortions

February 20, 2002
By: Kathryn Handley
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Carol had an abortion 17 years ago when she was 12 weeks pregnant. She said she might have made a different choice had she received consultation prior to the procedure.

Carol, who would not give her last name, was one of three witnesses who spoke in support of a Senate bill that would require a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions.

The informed-consent bill would require physicians to confer with patients about the risks and benefits of the procedure. Women would have to wait at least 24 hours after this consultation to have the abortion.

The Senate Pensions Committee heard testimony on both sides of the issue Wednesday.

Pro-life groups voiced their support.

Susan Klein, who represented Missouri Right to Life, said a woman might later regret a decision made in a time of crisis.

"A reflection period would guarantee sufficient time for a woman to think about her decision," Klein said.

She argued that with any other surgery, patients have several consultations with physicians about possible complications prior to the procedure.

"This legislation would assure that a woman would have adequate information before making an abortion decision," Klein said.

Although her organization supports the bill, Klein said it is not Missouri Right to Life's goal to advocate abortions, but to make sure women are fully informed.

Pro-choice organizations criticized the bill.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Erika Fox said that while her organization supports women making informed decisions, she does not think it is necessary to force those who have already made up their minds to wait.

She added that since there are only three abortion clinics in the state, located in Columbia, Springfield and St. Louis, return trips could be difficult.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.