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Missouri Senate sends governor new abortion regulations

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Senate passed new abortion restrictions Tuesday, bringing a week’s long special session to an end.

Gov. Eric Greitens had called the special session back in June after a federal judge threw out some Missouri abortion restrictions in April. The Senate's Republican majority ended a filibuster by Democrats and sent Senate Bill 5 to Gov. Eric Greitens desk.

The measure had not been debated for weeks as lawmakers tended to their regular work back in their district and vacations.

“Today is a great victory for pregnancy care centers that help women and children all over the state," Greitens said in a statement after the vote. "I’m proud that many of Missouri’s lawmakers stood strong to protect the lives of the innocent unborn and women’s health.”

The bill requires annual, unannounced inspections of abortion clinics and gives the attorney general the same authority as local prosecutors to investigate abortion clinics.

It exempts pregnancy care centers from St. Louis City's new ordinance banning discrimination based on reproductive health decisions. The measure also requires women to meet with the doctor who is performing the procedure 72 hours ahead of time.

"Right now, Planned Parenthood is working with Judge Sachs ruling to start providing abortion services in Columbia, Springfield, Kansas City and Joplin," said NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Alison Dreith. "Having that provider-mandated consent may slow down or event halt that process."

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said the special session was necessary given Planned Parenthood's intentions.

"We felt like it was important in terms of protecting those innocent babies," Emery said.

"This political theater is an expensive and ideological ploy to end abortion access in the state," said Planned Parenthood Communications Coordinator Sarah Felts. "The notion that this session has any benefit for patients’ health and safety is nonsense, and Missourians are smart enough to know that.”

Combined, Missouri's two special sessions this summer have costed taxpayers more than $140,000.