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I always think it’s interesting to look at the ways that our state legislators find to pass the time in Jefferson City. State Rep. Andrew Koenig (R-88), for instance, has been a busy boy. He has sponsored a small list of odious bills that have – mostly – gone nowhere. His legislative efforts this year have included efforts to pave the way for teaching creationist “science” (HB 1276), compelling folks to present photo ID to receive food stamps (HB1903), and abolishing the income tax (HJR 740).

Rep. Koenig has been more successful with bills he has sponsored that are intended to restrict abortion rights. He put forward HB1274, which was given a public hearing yesterday and won first-round approval in the GOP dominated House by a 116-34 vote. It would add obstacles to the use of RU-486:

The legislation would require the physician administering RU-486 to have clinical privileges at a nearby hospital, as well as privileges to intervene with surgery if necessary at a hospital or the abortion clinic where the drug was given. It also would require physicians who prescribe abortion-inducing drugs to carry an additional medical malpractice insurance policy of at least $1 million per occurrence and $3 million annually for injury or death of a child born alive after an attempted abortion.

Abortifacient drugs seem to drive the forced-birth crowd crazy because they’re safe,* easy and can be employed in relative privacy. That’s why Koenig’s had to use creative dodges like the malpractice insurance provision – a strategy he had earlier employed when he put forward an amendment attached to a healthcare insurance bill, (HB1890), that would force doctors who perform surgical abortions to pay more for malpractice insurance. That amendment was adopted and the insurance bill was sent to the Senate.

Koenig makes no bones that his motivation is nothing more than to attack legal abortions, declaring that, “although we can’t straight up outlaw it, I’d like it to be regulated and limited.”  Some legislators noted the irony of Koenig’s newfound enthusiasm for government regulation since he has, in the past, been vocal about repudiating government regulations. Of course, such rational observations don’t take into account the holy war mind set characteristic of anti-abortion zealots, which Koenig puts on display in this video:

The wide-eyed Koenig seems utterly gob-smacked by his conviction of “life begining at conception.” (Why, one wonders, isn’t he equally up in arms every time a carrot – demonstrably alive and growing – is yanked untimely from the earth?) Perhaps someone should suggest to Koenig that the abstract issue of “life” isn’t the issue – not even when it’s human life. The question of when a developing life should be protected is a question that remains subject to speculation and the answers, even among religious people, differ widely. It is certainly not a question that we should permit Koenig and the fanatics he represents to legislate for the rest of us.

* NOTE: RU-486 (Mifepristone) has been fully tested and approved by the FDA in the U.S. and has been approved for use in 29 other countries. Over 1.52 million women have used the drug and problems have been vanishingly rare and often attributable to improper use or other peripheral factors. Nevertheless, the anti-abortion cabal tries to justify restrictions such as those proposed by Rep. Koenig with false assertions, such as the statement made by Joe Ortwerth, Executive Director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, who claimed in yesterday’s hearing that “this is a drug that’s very, very risky to the mom.”

Addenda:  Did you notice that when Ortworth tries to talk about risk, he uses the word “mom” rather than “woman”? Condescending, reductive and indicative of the relative worth accorded to women – of course, if “the woman” is able to exercise her rights and get hold of RU486 she wouldn’t be “the mom,” which gets us right to the heart of the issue.