New bills addressing mothers and babies goes before the Senate

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Senate committee heard public hearings Tuesday about a few bills related to expecting mothers and their children.

House Bill 2280 expands benefits for pregnant women to provide substance abuse treatment for up to a year after giving birth. The bill’s sponsor, Marsha Haefner, R-St. Louis County, said expanding this measure will cost the state, but hopes it will benefit new mothers, and their newborn babies.

“There’s a fiscal note with this. It’s going to cost about two and a half million dollars of general revenue. Then there’s federal money that goes in with that that matches it. But I think when you look at the bigger picture, it will hopefully keep a lot of children out of foster care and keep families together and keep moms healthier."

Currently, new moms dealing with substance abuse can only receive care for up to 60 days postpartum. 

Advocates for Planned Parenthood's Stacie Schroeder argues that 60 days is sometimes not enough time.

"Sometimes a woman battling substance abuse can't combat it within that short amount of time. We need to do what we can because we want women to be equipped to take care of their children," Schroeder said. 

House Bill 1266 aims to change women’s rights to abortion to up to 20 weeks instead of 22 weeks. Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Cape Girardeau, the bill’s sponsor, said she’s pro-life and babies are very susceptible to pain at 22 weeks.

“At 20 weeks, you are in your second trimester and the baby is fully formed. The only way you can do an abortion at that point is to take that child apart, limb by limb," Lichtenegger said. "Anyone that thinks that's not going to hurt is not thinking."

Advocates for Planned Parenthood argue the abortion bill does not serve any purpose beside further restricting women’s rights. 

Both bills have already passed in the House.

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