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Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger Wants To Hold Pregnancy Resource Centers Above the Law

Last Wednesday, the Health Care Policy Committee heard the first of many anti-women’s health bills filed this session. HB1103 places pregnancy resource centers above the law by shielding them from safety or privacy regulation. Rather than focus on legislation that will actually promote Speaker Tim Jones’ stated agenda of “growth, opportunity, and Missouri values”, extremists in the House have prioritized restricting women’s access to reproductive health care.

HB1103, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, holds Pregnancy Resource Centers above the law by granting them immunity from government regulation and oversight. Pregnancy resource centers are operated by groups opposed to abortion and provide anti-abortion counseling in addition to pregnancy tests and sonograms. These centers receive state funding to operate their facilities and have little, if any, regulation as it is. More so, many of these pregnancy resource centers have been known to provide false, misleading information to the women they serve, putting them at risk for serious health complications. Some stories include telling patients birth control and abortion cause cancer and infertility. Others involve degrading women for even considering abortion and informing women their pregnancy is less advanced than it actually is, deceiving women to believe they have more time to make a decision about their pregnancy until in many cases, it is too late or they must endure a more invasive and expensive procedure due to the late stage of their pregnancy. At one pregnancy resource center, a young girl was told she was not pregnant when she in fact had an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition that you can hear more about in the testimony below. You can watch the entire hearing here.

 

Not only does Missouri allow, and fund through Missourians' tax dollars, these dangerous misinformation centers without state oversight or regulation, but HB1103 would allow that outrage to continue while protecting these centers from any future regulation by local or state government. And Gatschenberger justifies the bill as a First Amendment protection! Aside from the fact that HB1103 blatantly misinterprets the freedom of speech and assembly, it does so on behalf of the Missouri taxpayer. There is a clear and distinct difference between protecting First Amendment rights and allowing an agency receiving state funds to provide incorrect and deliberately misleading advice without any regulation or oversight by the state that is funding them. The Missouri legislature needs to put the brakes on HB1103 and reevaluate their priorities to focus on an agenda that promotes real Missouri values; values like expanding Medicaid, ethics reform, and raising the minimum wage. A review of the First Amendment might be helpful too…

 

@ProgressMO

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