Written Testimony of Kristine Burton Brown, J.D., in Support of Missouri Fetal Disposition Bill
On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the Missouri House Children and Families Committee held a hearing regarding Missouri House Bill 194 (HB 194). HB 194 would ensure greater accountability and transparency for abortion clinics across the state, and institute guidelines to ensure that fetal remains from abortion are not used in research and are disposed of with respect . Charlotte Lozier Institute Associate Scholar Kristi Burton Brown, J.D., submitted the following written testimony in support of HB 194.
To view Brown’s testimony in PDF format, please see “Written Testimony of Kristine Burton Brown, J.D., in Support of Missouri H.B. 194.”
Written Testimony of Kristine Burton Brown, J.D., in Support of Missouri H.B. 194
Associate Scholar, Charlotte Lozier Institute
Missouri House Children and Families Committee
February 28, 2017
Thank you, Members of the Committee. My name is Kristi Brown, and I am an attorney. I’m also an associate scholar for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and am testifying in favor of HB 194 on CLI’s behalf. HB 194 would implement a number of necessary provisions into law, but I’d like to focus on two specifics.
First, this bill would extend certain requirements that already exist in Missouri law to abortion facilities that are licensed in the state. Currently, various types of healthcare facilities in Missouri are required to have written standards for the final disposition of the remains of a human fetus when a miscarriage occurs. However, HB 194 would add a requirement for written standards after an induced abortion. This is important for a number of reasons, chief among them being the need for transparency and accountability for clinics that are performing abortions. HB 194 contains multiple provisions that would ensure greater accountability and transparency for abortion clinics across the state, and this written standards requirement is one of the most important.
The need for state oversight of abortion clinics was clearly seen in a 206-page report that came out in late 2016. This report detailed more than 1,400 violations of health and safety standards at 227 abortion clinics in 32 states, since 2008. These violations endangered women’s physical well-being, and in some cases, resulted in the deaths of women. Many of these were uncovered when states appropriately inspected their abortion clinics. HB 194 would allow the state of Missouri to inspect an abortion clinic when appropriate reporting requirements are not met, and this is important because often, when abortion facilities fail to comply with basic reporting provisions, many more health, safety, or legal standards are being violated as well.
As you are likely aware, hundreds of violations have already been uncovered at the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in St. Louis when state inspections have been conducted. Just last year, 6 women were sent to the emergency room from the St. Louis Planned Parenthood, and 63 women have experienced medical emergencies at that facility since 2009. Five Statement of Deficiency Reports have shown that the same Planned Parenthood facility has been cited for 210 incidents in 39 classes of violations by state inspectors. 128 of these violations were discovered just last year, proving that abortion facilities in Missouri do indeed need more oversight to ensure they are complying with the law — including federal law that prohibits the sale of the organs and body parts of aborted human fetuses.
Secondly, I’d like to address the necessity for dealing with the disposition of fetal remains, as HB 194 lays out. In December 2016, Charlotte Lozier Institute published a research paper I wrote on fetal disposition across the nation. One specific example that my research detailed crossed state borders but originated in Missouri. MedAssure, a waste company in Indiana, was fined in 2016 “for accepting fetal tissue from ‘Pathology Services, a Missouri lab that services Planned Parenthood.’” While MedAssure was fined for violating its permit in Indiana, the details from the Missouri lab were disturbing as well. Pathology Services had been sending up to six 31-gallon containers of aborted babies every week. Once received, the contents of these containers — literally the mixed up and thrown together arms, legs, organs, heads, and blood of aborted babies at various ages — were dumped into an auger along with other medical waste, which was ground up together.”
HB 194 would no longer allow pathology labs to fill gallon containers with piles of aborted babies, swimming in their own blood. Instead, HB 194 would institute appropriate guidelines that would allow each human body to “be tracked from the abortion facility or hospital where the abortion was performed or induced to the pathology lab and to its final disposition location. The unique identification number shall be conspicuously adhered to the exterior of the specimen container.” The legality of abortion is not touched in HB 194, and is, in fact, still preserved under Missouri law. However, by enacting accountability and transparency provisions that still protect a woman’s privacy, HB 194 allows the state of Missouri to respect the lives of children who are aborted and acknowledge in a small way, after their death, that they were indeed human beings.
There are plenty of health, safety, and accountability reasons to enact HB 194. Additionally, any motivation to respect human life in this bill is allowable under U.S. Supreme Court precedent. In Gonzales v. Carhart, the Court recognized as legitimate and lawful the “State’s interest in promoting respect for human life at all stages in the pregnancy.” Thus, whether the intent of HB 194 is to further health standards for women, to require accountability of an industry that is often dangerously left to its own devices, or to respect human life at all stages of life, all are legally valid intents according to Supreme Court precedent.