Missouri Law Regarding Potential Loss of Custody Rights for Discussing Abortion (HB 1231)
This law was last updated on Apr 23, 2014
HB 1231 is a bill that contains forty-two provisions related to the administration of justice. The bill as introduced contained a provision that would have changed the laws regarding custody and visitation rights of a father who attempted to coerce the mother of his child to get an abortion. That provision does not appear in the final enrolled bill.
The bill as introduced specified that if a court found that a parent of a child, while the child was unborn, attempted to coerce the mother of the child to obtain an abortion, the court may deny custody of that child to the parent and may exercise discretion in granting visitation. The consent to the adoption of a child would not have been required of a man who had reason to believe he was the biological father of the unborn child and attempted to coerce the mother of the child to obtain an abortion.
According to Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri:
The bill creates a new cause for denial of parental custody, visitation, and adoption consent if a partner is found to have “attempted to coerce” a woman into having an abortion. The bill is not clear on how such an attempt would be demonstrated to the court. Current Missouri law has strict regulations related to the informed consent process for abortion that prohibit coercion. No woman should be forced or coerced into ANY decision related to her pregnancy. A woman and her partner have the right to discuss decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child. The bill is an attempt by politicians to steer private medical conversations between partners away from merely discussing the safe and legal option of abortion.
HB 1231 was signed into law by Gov. Nixon on July 9, 2014, however, the provision detailed above was not included in the final enrolled bill. The Senate amended the bill as introduced and removed the above-detailed provision.
The provision regarding denial of parental custody was reintroduced in 2015. See HB 182.
HB 1252, which was introduced and failed to pass in 2013 contains an identical provision.