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KSHB I-Team helps get bill banning nonconsensual pelvic exams to MO governor's desk

Lawmakers credit I-Teams work for shining light on issue
pelvic exam without consent
Posted at 7:12 PM, May 10, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Legislation triggered by a KSHB I-Team investigation is now heading to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's desk and is expected to be signed into law.

The law would prohibit doctors and medical students from performing pelvic and other intimate exams on unconscious patients without their explicit consent.

We learned the practice is legal in Kansas and Missouri.

After the I-Team's investigation, lawmakers on both sides of the state line took action.

Full coverage:
Part 1: Pelvic exams under anesthesia still happen without patient knowledge

Part 2: What local lawmakers are doing about pelvic exams without consent

Follow up: Lawmakers will try again to pass bills banning pelvic exams without consent in Kansas, Missouri

Follow up: Lawmakers, medical students continue to advocate for bills banning non-consensual pelvic exams

Follow up: Conversation surrounding non-consensual pelvic exams continues in Kansas City

The Missouri bill, SB 106, sponsored by Sen Lauren Arthur (D-MO) received unanimous support and has now cleared both the House and Senate. Parson has until July 1 to sign it.

We learned pelvic exams on unconscious or anesthetized patients are often used as a teaching tool for doctors-in-training and the patient has no idea it's happening.

We interviewed Ashley Weitz, who woke up in the middle of a pelvic exam she didn't consent to and it left her feeling violated for years.

"I know that I didn't consent and I know we didn't talk about it because I woke up in the middle of the exam screaming," Weitz said. "I just wanted to be asked."

We talked to Arthur and Rep. Rui Xu (D-KS), who said they're not trying to tell doctors how to do their jobs, but that this law would only strengthen patient autonomy and relationships with doctors.

Arthur credited our reporting for shining a light on the issue, saying it helped her bill advance.

"This was not an issue that was on our radar," Arthur said. "I think you have also brought a human element to it where we understand people are really affected by this and, ultimately, we're here to serve the people who send this to the capital. It will be so rewarding to know that we really made a difference and we helped protect the people we are elected to serve."

Xu's bill didn't make it out of committee. The same thing happened to his bill in 2020. He said it was because of struggles with the Kansas medical lobbyists.

Xu says he'll keep fighting for the bill next year, and hopes to find a female counterpart to sponsor the bill with him.

The I-Team will be at the capital if and when Parson signs the bill into law.

Investigative producer Lisa McCormick heavily contributed to our reporting and coverage on this issue.