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Abortion Bill Clears House Committee

By a vote of 8 to 2, a House committee approved tougher restrictions on abortion providers. The senate approved this bill last week after about 10 hours of debate. Taking center stage at the House committee hearing was the part of the bill that allows parents to sue anyone who helps their minor daughter get an abortion.

The bill sponsor, Republican Senator John Loudon says Missouri teens are going to an abortion clinic just across the state line in Illinois.

He says it gives teens a way to get around Missouri's law that requires parental consent for minors getting an abortion.

In a discussion with committee member Beth Low, a democrat, Loudon says a teen going to Illinois without her parents' knowledge is like getting a back alley abortion.

Loudon says when someone helps a minor get around Missouri's parental consent requirement, the parents of the minor should be able to sue that person.

Loudon says anyone helping that minor is, essentially violating the parents' rights.

Opponents of the bill argue there are circumstances when teens might have legitimate reasons for not wanting to tell their parents.

For example, if the pregnancy is the result of sexual abuse by a parent or family member.

In such cases, bill supporters say teens can seek permission in juvenile court to have the abortion without parental consent.

Representative Beth Low told the bill sponsor Senator John Loudon that she believes teens will find a way to get an abortion, even if no adult is willing to assist them for fear of being sued.

Bill sponsor John Loudon argues that it's unlikely teens would be able to get a ride to Illinois AND pay for the abortion procedure without some assistance from a trusted adult.

He says a trusted adult dealing with a pregnant teen should take her to court to get permission for an abortion rather than taking them secretly to Illinois.

But some lawmakers argue that court is an intimidating place for a young woman who's afraid to tell her parents she's pregnant.

Democratic Representative Jeanette Oxford says if young women go to court to get permission without their parents knowledge, there's still a risk parents could find out.

The debate will continue as the bill moves to the floor.

The House Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey says he expects the bill to come up for debate Wednesday.

If the House approves it without making any changes, it would go to the governor's desk.