The Missouri Senate advanced legislation Monday that would require a doctor to be physically present when a drug causing an abortion is administered.
The measure passed 23-7 along party lines, with Republicans supporting the bill and Democrats in opposition. It now heads back to the House for further consideration.
Drugs can be used to induce abortions early on in pregnancy. Currently, women take an initial round of medication in front of a doctor and then can take a second drug at home, 24 to 48 hours later.
Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, said the measure he sponsored would protect patients' health by ensuring a licensed physician monitors their condition while taking the drug. He said that drugs inducing abortions can have serious side effects, such as nausea and abdominal cramps.
Under the legislation, the physician prescribing or dispensing drugs used for an abortion would need to be present. The doctor or someone acting on his or her behalf would be required to make a reasonable effort to ensure the woman returns for a follow-up visit unless there is confirmation the pregnancy has been terminated.
"You are making it very difficult for chemical abortions to occur," said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.
Senate Democrats opposed the measure but allowed a vote to occur after reaching a compromise. An amendment was adopted to remove a provision that required the patient to see the doctor about two weeks after taking the drug for the first time.