House committee adds restrictions on fetal tissue and clinics to bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri House committee made changes Monday to a Senate bill that was passed last week. The changes would tighten restrictions on clinics and what can be done with fetal tissue. 

Before amended, the bill, Senate Bill 5, would have allowed for unscheduled inspections of abortion centers, given the attorney general rights to prosecute violators of abortion laws and required abortion facilities to submit only a sample of the fetal tissue to a pathologist.

The Children and Families Committee amended the Senate bill to add more regulations to the original bill. One of the main points of discussion was whether or not doctors should be required to provide fetal tissue to a pathologist within 72 hours of an abortion.

It is already standard practice for doctors to send a sample of fetal tissue to pathologists after some medical procedures, but the amendments would add a 72-hour time frame and require all of the fetal tissue to be sent to the pathologist. 

Supporters of the bill said this time limit will help doctors identify if there are any leftover tissues. Rep. Becky Ruth, R-Festus, said sending in tissue for a pathology report can help verify a potential health problem after an abortion. 

"To me that sounds like it's kind of also a safety check that the hospital needs to know of if maybe an error was made," Ruth said. "For the safety and well-being, it would be notifying the hospital, so whatever needed to be done could be taken care of to know the patient is safe."

On the other hand, those against the changes said these extra regulations don't affect the health of the woman in regards to abortion. Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, said the legislators aren't knowledgeable enough about medicine to put these regulations on doctors. 

"You're under a lot of regulations from other entities and again for us to come in to make sure you are doing your job correctly when we are not physicians just seems a little punitive," Newman said. 

Dr. Rachel Zigler is an OBGYN and doesn't think the regulations are necessary. 

"I don’t mind at all a pathologist looking at the tissue, but I don’t think we have to further regulate that,” Zigler said. 

Some other changes to the Senate bill include adding some additional guidelines for abortion clinics. The changes would require abortion clinics to provide written material disclosing all of the risks of abortion and any alternatives to abortion. Another requirement would make sure there is a 72 waiting period before performing an abortion to assure there wasn't any coercion.