Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Bill Requires Father's Permission or Proof of "Legitimate Rape" for Abortions in Missouri

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Rick Brattin wants to make it even harder for Missouri women to access abortions. - FACEBOOK
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  • Rick Brattin wants to make it even harder for Missouri women to access abortions.

You'd think Missouri Republicans would have learned to stop using the term "legitimate rape" after Todd Akin's flameout.

Instead, Republican state representative Rick Brattin wants to make "legitimate rape" the legal standard women must prove before accessing abortions -- unless they have written, notarized consent from the father.

See also: Rick Brattin, Who Wants Anti-Evolution Lessons In Missouri Schools: "I'm A Science Enthusiast"

House Bill 131, filed by Brattin on December 3, says women should only have access to abortion services in Missouri if the father grants them permission or if they can prove they were victims of rape. And not just any rape. Only the "legitimate" kind.

"Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it," Brattin tells Mother Jones. "So you couldn't just go and say, 'Oh yeah, I was raped,' and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape."

Brattin tries to separate himself from Akin's statements that in a "legitimate rape," women can't get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."

See also: Todd Akin Returns, Takes Back Apology, Uses the Word "Legitimate" A Lot

Brattin's version of a "legitimate rape" is one that is reported to the police like any other crime.

"I'm just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you're going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed," Brattin says to Mother Jones. "That's just common sense."

Most women don't report rape to police. A Department of Justice survey found 60 percent of sexual assaults in the last five years were not reported.

The bill doesn't specify how a woman would prove her pregnancy was the result of a rape -- a crime that often leaves no physical scars -- though Brattin says he doesn't think it would be too hard.

"You have to take steps to show that you were raped...and I'd think you'd be able to prove that," Brattin tells Mother Jones.

Brattin's bill also makes exceptions for cases in which the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother or the father has died.

But what about if the father is abusive? Brattin says women can just put the child into protective custody after birth.

"What does that have to do with the child's life? Just because it was an abusive relationship, does that mean the child should die?" Brattin tells Mother Jones.

Accessing an abortion in Missouri is already uniquely difficult. The state's only abortion clinic is in St. Louis' Central West End and, thanks to a recent veto override from Missouri's GOP-dominated legislature, women must wait 72 hours between the initial consultation and the procedure.

Missouri's abortion waiting period does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, making it the longest and harshest in the country.

See also: 72 Hours Later: How a Mizzou Student Turned Waiting into an Abortion Rights Protest

Brattin's bill also goes to extraordinary lengths to stop women from having abortions by requiring doctors to share information about the fetus, including the gestational age, the anatomical and physiological characteristics and color photographs of a fetus developing in two-week increments.

Before any abortion, the patient would receive printed materials with this disclaimer: "The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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