Missouri Bill Seeks to Make Abortions for Ectopic Pregnancies Illegal in Restrictive Legislation

A bill proposed by Rep. Brian Seitz seeks to criminalize the production, sale, purchase or use of medical devices or drugs used for abortions

Members of the Missouri House of Representatives recite the Pledge of Allegiance as they begin their annual legislative session
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A sweeping anti-abortion bill in Missouri seeks to make it illegal for pregnant people to abort ectopic pregnancies, among other restrictive measures.

The legislation, House Bill No. 2810, proposes that "the offense of trafficking abortion-inducing devices or drugs is a class A 11 felony if … The abortion was performed or induced or was attempted to be performed or induced on a woman who has an ectopic pregnancy."

Rep. Brian Seitz, a Republican who introduced the bill, heard Wednesday, seeks to criminalize the production, sale, purchase or use of medical devices or drugs used for abortions. Anyone found guilty of the following would be guilty of a class B felony, which carries a prison sentence of five to 15 years.

Brian Seitz

The bill also could make anyone who assists with the abortion of an ectopic pregnancy by providing abortion medication guilty of a class A felony, which carries a potentially longer sentence. Those convicted of class A felonies face a minimum 10-year prison sentence, but could face a lifetime behind bars. The bill also stipulates the felony penalty will still apply if a woman is a victim of trafficking.

An ectopic pregnancy often occurs in a fallopian tube, where eggs are carried from the ovaries to the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic. The medical nonprofit states that such pregnancies "can't proceed normally" because "the fertilized egg can't survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated."

Mayo Clinic adds that if a "fertilized egg continues to grow in the fallopian tube, it can cause the tube to rupture," adding, "Heavy bleeding inside the abdomen is likely."

About 1 in every 30,000 pregnancies are ectopic, Mayo Clinic states. However, extrauterine pregnancies occur more frequently in women receiving fertility treatments, at about every 1 in 100 pregnancies.

Dr. Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, slammed the proposed bill in a statement, per Newsweek.

"This is what it looks like when uneducated politicians try and legislate our bodies," she said. "Ectopic pregnancies, if not treated promptly, become life-threatening. Banning any provision of care related to ectopic pregnancies will put people's lives at risk."

Earlier this month, Missouri also proposed a measure that would make it illegal for pregnant people to obtain an abortion outside of state lines. A measure introduced in the state House by Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman would allow citizens to sue anyone helping another Missouri resident to get an abortion outside of the state.

The Show-Me State currently has only one legal abortion provider, a Planned Parenthood clinic located in St. Louis.

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Missouri passed one of the nation's strictest abortion laws in 2019, criminalizing abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. No exceptions are made for victims of rape or incest, though exceptions are allowed for medical emergencies, such as when a mother's life is at risk, or she is facing serious permanent injury.

That year, eight other states — Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Arkansas, Utah and Alabama — passed gestational age bans limiting abortions past six, eight or eighteen weeks. Alabama legislators passed an even stricter bill that bans almost all abortions at any point in pregnancy.

Missouri's latest anti-abortion bill arrives at a time when abortion rights are under assault across the United States. The Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which granted women the right to an abortion in every state, is at risk of being overturned later this year.

The process of attempting to overturn Roe v. Wade began when Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks was struck down by a federal court. The state then asked the Supreme Court to either overturn Roe v. Wade or allow states to pass pre-viability abortion bans. Oral arguments were heard in December 2021, and a decision is expected in late spring or early summer.

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