Mo. House votes to criminalize coerced abortions

Thursday, March 5, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Coercing women to have an abortion would be illegal under legislation that has gained first-round approval in the Missouri House.

Employers who threaten to fire a woman or those who threaten to take away college scholarships if she doesn't have an abortion could be charged with a misdemeanor. Those who coerce an abortion through a separate crime, such as stalking or domestic assault, would have their prison sentences bumped up.

Doctors who perform an abortion and know the woman has been coerced could be charged with a felony.

In an emotional debate, lawmakers frequently exchanged pointed jabs as the measure's sponsors and critics sought to portray themselves as standing up for women.

The bill was approved 115-41 on Thursday. It needs another vote to move to the Senate.

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