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Missouri GOP Sen. Koenig breaks down abortion-regulations bill ahead of special session resuming

Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, July 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Sen. Andrew Koenig to the program.

Koenig is a Manchester Republican and the main sponsor of abortion legislation that’s being considered in the Missouri legislature’s current (though interrupted) special session. Senators are expected to return on Monday.

Among other things, Koenig’s bill would allow Missouri’s attorney general to file lawsuits if a clinic violates the state’s abortion laws. As it stands now, only local prosecutors can take such action.

The legislation also would require doctors — not social workers or nurse practitioners — to explain medical risks to a woman seeking an abortion. It would also require the Department of Health and Senior Services to conduct unannounced, annual inspections of clinics.

Another provision of the bill focuses on a St. Louis ordinance barring employment and housing discrimination based on whether a woman has had an abortion or takes contraception. News outlets previously misrepresented what’s in the bill, so Koenig took care to note that he’s seeking to make sure pregnancy resource centers, which discourage women from having abortions, aren’t discriminated against.

Koenig said he plans to pass his billwithout making changes. If that happens, the legislation will go to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk.

Here’s what Koenig had to say during the show:

  • Koenig said his bill does not completely overturn St. Louis’ anti-discrimination ordinance. That means, in Koenig’s view, employers who are not religiously affiliated will still need to comply with St. Louis’ protections. "So this notion that someone can be fired just for taking birth control is false and is not something that is part of the bill," he said.
  • He said it’s possible that the provision authorizing the attorney general to bring legal action against abortion clinics might not get used if Missouri residents elect an AG who supports abortion rights.
  • Koenig said Democrats may filibuster his legislation when special session resumes. If that happens, Koenig said it’s likely that Republicans will use a procedure to cut off debate.
  • Greitens issued an executive order Monday setting up a prescription drug monitoring database. Koenig said he is skeptical the program will work. “We have 49 states that do this and we’re middle of the road when it comes to opioid deaths,” he said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Andrew Koenig on Twitter: @Koenig4MO

Music: "More Than This" by Roxy Music

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.