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Democrats predict backlash after GOP bill restricts public funds from abortion providers

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(The Center Square) – A victory claimed by Republicans was met with Democrats predicting a voter backlash against the legislators in November.

In a party line 23-10 vote, the Senate passed House Bill 2634 on Tuesday after an 11-hour filibuster by Democrats. The bill would restrict public funds from agencies affiliated with abortion providers. A Senate amendment was added to the bill, so the House must vote again on the bill. It passed 104-48 in the House on March 4.

“All we needed was eight people to say, ‘Hey, you know what, having access to birth control actually reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and could actually reduce the need for abortion,’” Sen. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis, told reporters on Thursday. “We could not find eight Republicans to do that. So this November, what’s going to have to happen is more than a million Missourians are going to have to turn out and vote and tell the Missouri legislature they are wrong on this issue.”

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, spoke on behalf of the Freedom Caucus and the Republicans at the end-of-week press conference, saying the vote was the biggest victory of the week.

“We have seen repeatedly that women that undergo abortion procedures have higher rates of mental health issues, higher rates of suicide, and all sorts of things to support that abortion hurts women,” said Eigel, who’s running for the Republican nomination for governor. “I was really disappointed this week that we couldn’t find one Democrat willing to stand up in defense of women around this state and defend them from the scourge of abortion.”

While House Republicans didn’t hold an end-of the week press conference, Democrats highlighted the bill might be the first sent to Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s desk for approval.

“It’s really wild to me that this may be the very first bill that passes,” said Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and a candidate for her party’s nomination for governor. “And it’s so interesting that the Republican majority is choosing yet another attack on women’s reproductive health care in a time when we know citizens are going to take back those rights.”

While signatures are being gathered to place an initiative on an upcoming ballot to legalize abortion in Missouri, Eigel said the legislature’s next priority is to change how ballot initiatives are passed. Last year, Speaker Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, and a candidate for his party’s nomination for secretary of state, predicted an initiative to legalize abortion would get on the ballot. He also said the Senate would be to blame if voters approve it because legislation to change the initiative petition process died in the Senate last year.

“At least from the Freedom Caucus perspective, we’ve been very clear on this: We want to see not only the Planned Parenthood bill … but we also want to see a conclusion to the initiative petition reform discussion,” Eigel said. “Now I understand the House is moving maybe a little bit slower than we like, but we hope to get that initiative petition back over to the Senate and maybe we can get that done in the very near future.”

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