- Missouri legislators are pursuing legislation that would require a woman to watch a video showing the anatomy of her pregnancy at least 72 hours before obtaining an abortion.
- State Representative Linda Black (R) introduced the bill to "enhance" the written and verbal information Missouri doctors are mandated to give women seeking abortions.
- The bill is awaiting a vote in the Missouri House, and part of a larger trend of states restriction abortions.
What the bill would do
There's a lot the video would have to cover if the bill passed: a description of the abortion method; all immediate and long-term risks of the procedure; the age, physical characteristics, and level of physical function of the fetus; alternatives to the abortion; the location of the nearest hospital; and the potential psychological effects of the procedure.
Missouri already has an "informed consent" law which makes physicians provide women written information about the risks of abortions before getting one.
Black said her bill tackles handicaps that women may have understanding the information given to them before an abortion, like illiteracy. Supporters of the bill say the mandatory video would make sure women seeking abortions understand the procedure. But opponents argue it's a way of shaming women who want to end their pregnancy in a state that already has other laws restricting abortion access, like requiring that two doctors be present during an abortion and prohibiting insurance plans in the state's health exchange from covering the procedure.
Planned Parenthood, which runs Missouri's only abortion clinic, issued a statement arguing that the law would require women seeking abortions "to receive state-scripted counseling that includes medically inaccurate information designed to try to change her mind 3 times; in person, in writing and in the forced viewing of a video."
This is part of a bigger trend in abortion restrictions
In the past four years, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions — more than what passed in the prior decade. In last year's legislative session alone, 335 measures aimed at restricting abortion access were introduced. Of those, 26 new restrictions were enacted in 15 states.
There's two circumstances that have likely played a part in this rise in restrictions. The national conversation about health care sparked a debate over whether health insurance plans should have to cover abortions. And shortly after Obamacare passed in 2010, Republicans gained power in more state legislatures, making it easier for them to pass bills restricting abortions.