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Mo. House lawmakers advance fetal personhood measure

April 19, 2016 — On Monday, the Missouri House Select Committee on Social Services advanced a measure (HJR 98) that would extend state constitutional rights to fetuses, the Springfield News-Leader reports (Swedien, Springfield News-Leader, 4/18).

Bill details

The measure, proposed by state Rep. Mike Moon (R), would extend a provision in the state constitution that protects an individual's "right to life" to a fetus "at every stage of biological development." The measure does not include any exceptions for rape, incest or life endangerment (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/14).

Next steps

According to Moon, committee Chair Sue Allen (R) now must decide whether to refer the bill to state House Speaker Todd Richardson (R), who can choose whether to bring it to the floor (Springfield News-Leader, 4/18). The measure passed a separate state House committee last week (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/14).

If lawmakers pass the measure, state residents would vote on it on the Nov. 8 ballot. The measure does not need the governor's approval since it would amend the state constitution.

Comments

Opponents of the measure said it is unconstitutional and would be defeated in a legal challenge. Opponents said that if enacted, the measure would limit women's access to abortion care, and potentially also in vitro fertilization and forms of contraception.

Rachel Goldberg, a member of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, said, "One of the biggest problems is it is so broad. We don't know what this means in terms of what women are going to be able to do with birth control" (Springfield News-Leader, 4/18).