The Missouri Senate has approved a legislation that would require abortion clinics to have annual inspections after Gov. Eric Greitens called a special session for the purpose of passing pro-life measures.
Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, was passed on Thursday morning by a vote of 20–8, and it is now headed to the state House for consideration.
The Associated Press reported that the bill included a provision that would repeal a St. Louis ordinance that bans discrimination based on abortion or pregnancies.
The area Catholic diocese filed a lawsuit against the ordinance in May, saying it violates their constitutional freedoms.
Last week, Greitens called for a special legislative session to stop the St. Louis ordinance and to pass new regulations for abortion facilities. On Wednesday, the governor held a rally in the state Capitol in support of special session and the legislation.
"Today, hundreds of pro-life Missourians came together to celebrate the work that our pregnancy care centers do for women and children. These are pro-life organizations that offer medical care, housing, food, and support throughout pregnancy and for years after a baby is born," Greitens wrote on Facebook.
The measure approved by the Senate would also enable the attorney general to prosecute violations of abortion laws, but only if local prosecutors do not act first. However, the lawmakers threw out a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinic staff from asking ambulances to drive without lights or sirens.
Additionally, the legislation would require abortion facilities to submit fetal tissue samples for examination within five days of the procedure. The state health department would be tasked with reviewing the samples regularly to ensure that abortion clinics are complying with state laws.
Some Republican lawmakers have been trying to pass laws dealing with fetal tissue since 2015, when pro-life activists released undercover videos that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of tissue.
Meanwhile, Greitens has expressed plans to appeal a court decision that blocked a state abortion clinic regulations that would have required abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergency situations. The regulation also would have required abortion clinics to meet standards similar to other ambulatory surgical facilities.
Life News noted that many abortion facilities have closed since the state regulations were passed in 2005. The number of abortion clinics in the state dropped from seven in 2005 to two in 2014, because the facilities would not or could not comply with the regulations.