JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee heard testimony on Rep. Diane Franklin and Rep. Andrew Koenig’s legislation that prohibits the sale of fetal tissue from abortions in Missouri and regulates procedures for proper disposal of the fetal tissue.
The bills, HBs 2069 and 2371 were combined in the House, and passed overwhelmingly with 120 votes. The bill seems likely to receive similar support in the Senate and Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis County, was the only member of the committee present who expressed opposition to the legislation.
Franklin, R-Camdenton, used the hearing to counter some of the opposition the bill received during debate on the House floor. One argument stated then was preventing research of fetal tissue could prevent cures from being developed for the Zika virus. But Tuesday, Franklin summarized a Johns Hopkin University report that countered the claim.
“Using aborted babies for research is not necessary, that technology and research have moved forward. Now they are using 3D printers to print tiny brains [for research],” she said.
Schupp tried to push back against the legislation by calling into question where it originated, the Interim Sanctity of Life Committee, on which Schupp sat. Franklin argued in her presentation of the bill that the videos that led to the creation of the committee were valid, citing an investigation by cyber forensics firm Coalfire. Schupp countered with the charges brought against the makers of the videos in Texas.
“Let’s break this down,” Koenig, R-Manchester, said about the bill. “It’s really simple, you either believe it’s ok to sell baby parts or it’s not.”
However, Schupp pushed back on that as well, saying she was also against the sale of fetal tissue for profit, but thought this legislation would hurt research.
“No one here is say that you should sell fetal tissue for profit,” she said. “I don’t think it’s wrong to accept dollars when it comes to keeping the tissue in tact if it comes to research.”
While much of her exchange with Schupp was about the nature of the videos, Franklin also made sure to say that the purpose of the legislation was to regulate the disposal of the fetal tissue.
“The bill is very narrow,” she said. “It focuses on closing the loopholes and making the department accountable. A report will be issued each year to the General Assembly and made available to the public.”
But Sarah Rossi of the ACLU disputed that point in her testimony, saying that the totality of regulations in the abortion industry make it harder for clinics to survive, and reminding the committee members that the Supreme Court will decide the legality of these types of targeted regulatory laws this June.
“There’s a reason they’re called trap bills,” she said. The compounding regulations, “set up a situation where they are likely to get shut down by the Department of Health and Human Services.”