Gov. Blunt signs abortion bill; lawsuits filed as session ends

Friday, September 16, 2005

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation placing further restrictions on abortion Thursday afternoon, and Planned Parenthood and a Springfield clinic said they quickly filed lawsuits challenging the measure.

The bill, passed in a special legislative session called for that purpose, allows lawsuits against people who help teens get abortions without parental consent.

The measure also requires doctors performing abortions to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles that provides obstetric and gynecological care and disqualifies anyone with a financial interest in an abortion from serving as a minor's "next friend." Such people help minors seeking a court exemption to the parental consent law.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region said they filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court seeking a temporary block and a permanent ruling finding the law unconstitutional.

The legal wrangling came within hours of the Legislature wrapping up its special session.

Earlier Thursday, the Senate gave final approval, 32-0, to a measure repealing a new state law barring posting of personal information about public officials on the Internet.

The new Internet law had said no court or government agency could post online the home address, Social Security number or phone number of any elected or appointed official without their consent.

But county officials worried how they would enforce the restriction. They say government Web sites contain much information, such as property records, and it would be hard to remove it for certain people named under the law.

"It was a piece of legislation that had good intentions," said Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter. "Probably we should have given it more in-depth study and analysis."

Boone, Cass, Jackson and Platte counties sued the state, and a Cole County judge blocked the state from enforcing the law, but an attorney for the counties said with the repeal, they likely would drop the litigation.

The new bill makes it a misdemeanor to post the name, home address, telephone number or Social Security number of anyone on the Internet with the intent "to cause great bodily harm or death." The revision makes no distinction as to whether the target is an elected official or who did the posting.

The Senate also passed a bill to correct conflicts within various bills that passed during the regular session creating new laws on drunken driving, child abuse and distribution of prescription drugs at schools.

A day earlier, the House passed a bill making a technical change in a new workers' compensation law. Extra words left in legislation passed this spring appeared to prohibit the system from covering accidental job injuries -- the very thing it's intended to handle.

Blunt signed all four measures Thursday.

All but the workers' compensation measure contained an emergency clause, meaning the provisions took effect with the governor's signature. Republican leaders wanted the workers' compensation fix to also take effect immediately, but they were blocked by Democrats.

The House also passed a Senate-approved resolution stating the Legislature's opposition to plans to create a spring rise in the Missouri River by releasing more water from upstream dams, citing concerns about flooding of Missouri farms and communities.

Abortion bill is SB1; workers' comp bill is SB4; crime cleanup bill is HB2; Internet bill is HB3.

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