As they gear up for their next session, Missouri legislators are currently brainstorming their anti-abortion wish lists. And one lawmaker has a particularly unique proposal for imposing more regulations on Planned Parenthood: Forcing the organization to build a memorial dedicated to aborted fetuses.
During a House committee hearing this week, during which state lawmakers discussed their recommendations for tightening restrictions on abortion providers, State Rep. Rick Brattin (R) suggested Missouri should pass new legislation to ensure that Planned Parenthood is properly honoring fetuses. According to St. Louis Public Radio, Brattin cited “56 million babies that have been lost in the abortion service and industry” since Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973.
“I think maybe requiring that Planned Parenthood set up some type of memorial, like a Vietnam Wall type,” he said. “I know that sounds crazy, but by state law (fetuses are) given human status, so should there be a human memorial attached to that human life?”
Brattin is likely referring to the fact that Missouri recognizes fetuses as potential victims under state homicide laws, a statute that allows people to be charged for crimes that harm pregnant women in a way that causes them to suffer a miscarriage.
States are increasingly using these so-called “fetal homicide” laws to expand the rights of unborn children in a way that threatens to undermine reproductive rights. Opponents warn that these homicide laws are becoming a foothold for advancing a “personhood” agenda that endows fertilized eggs with all the same rights as U.S. citizens.
Brattin’s proposed memorial requirement is a new angle into the ongoing controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, which has been plagued for months by a series of videos accusing the organization of “selling aborted baby parts.” Although this year has already resulted in a flood of new abortion restrictions on the state level, lawmakers are now looking for new ways to specifically target the nonprofit group, as well as continue to construe its activities as gruesome and barbaric.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Missouri lawmakers also suggested passing new laws to crack down on Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program — a practice that has come under intense scrutiny thanks to the video campaign. Last month, Missouri’s attorney general released a detailed 47-page report concluding that the organization hasn’t actually broken any laws in this area. Similar investigations in other states have so far come up empty, too.
There’s only one abortion clinic left in the entire state of Missouri, but that hasn’t slowed down the conservative lawmakers there. Over the past several sessions, legislators have proposed dozens of separate restrictions to regulate the lone Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis.