The Pitch has a nice little post on Missouri's recently-enacted SB-793, which essentially requires doctors to lie to women seeking abortion about the kind of aid offered to them if they continue their pregnancies. The "Alternatives to Abortion Services Fact Sheet" - which abortion doctors must provide to their patients - suggests that medical/prenatal care, food, childcare, housing and utilities, transportation, clothing, pregnancy supplies, and job training/placement are all available to women in need. The only problem? It's not really true.

So the state of Missouri will help new mothers afford parenthood, huh? Not according to the stats from the Mid-America Research Council's Metropolitan Council on Early Learning. According to the "policy issues" page on its website, Missouri is ranked 49th in the nation in childcare assistance funding.

"Once a baby is born, women are pretty much on their own," says Ruth Ehresman, the director of health and budget policy for the Missouri Budget Project. Unemployed moms can be eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (aka "welfare"), which equals $292 a month for a family of three. If the mother or her spouse works, that amount is reduced. There's a five-year lifetime limit on this support, so it maxes out quickly. As Ehresman puts it, "It is negligible support."

If the state of Missouri won't provide the services it promises, how does it expect women to access them? The answer is disappointing, to say the least. Doctors must hand out lengthy lists of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) and other religious organizations, billing them as "Pregnancy Assistance Information Providers" and "Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Program Providers." These groups give aid at their own discretion; they're not required to provide any of the services promised by the state of Missouri, even to the women with the greatest need. The stated goal of many of these groups is to prevent women from aborting and "educate" them about Christianity, not to help them afford their babies.

But wait, there's more.

The law also requires that women seeking abortion be presented with color photographs of "the developing unborn child" at two-week gestational increments, all the way up to full term. Descriptions of the anatomy and heart/brain functions of the fetus must accompany the photos. And then there's this:

The printed materials shall prominently display the following statement: "The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

Never mind that this definition requires a very narrow reading of the terms "separate" and "unique," or that a person isn't generally considered alive by medical professionals unless he or she sustains a certain level of brain functioning, which certainly isn't present at conception. Missouri legislators had to get as close to "you're killing your baby" as they possibly could. And unfortunately, that's not even the worst of it.

Women seeking abortion after 22 weeks must be told that the fetus may feel pain. The doctor must describe the steps of the abortion procedure in detail, and make note of "which steps... could be painful to the unborn child." No one is exempt. Even women carrying wanted pregnancies with severe complications are required to sit through this - and there's no opportunity to opt out.

In case you're thinking "no way, I could never put someone through that if she asked me to stop," there's this: to violate any of the bill's provisions is a Class B Felony, carrying a prison sentence of 5-15 years. Doctors' hands are tied. Not only must they be complicit in the aid bait-and-switch, they must also make a difficult decision even more painful for their most vulnerable patients.

Fuck Missouri.