The Missouri General Assembly has sent Governor Jay Nixon legislation which would establish a 72 hour waiting period for elective abortions in Missouri. Both chambers of the Missouri Legislature approved the bill in the final week of the legislative session by veto-proof majorities.
The measure which was truly agreed and finally passed was House Committee Substitute for House Bills 1307 and 1313. The substitute was a combination of identical bills filed by Representative Kevin Elmer of Nixa and Representative Keith Frederick of Rolla. The bills were companion measures to a bill initially filed in the Missouri Senate by Senator David Sater of Cassville.
The proposal would expand the current waiting period from the time a woman first visits an abortion clinic to the time an abortion is performed from 24 to 72 hours. Supporters argued that the change would ensure that a woman has sufficient time to review information regarding her options, and evaluate the health and life consequences to her and her preborn child.
House members endorsed the bill by a vote of 111-39. The bill had been previously approved by the Senate on a vote of 22-9. Senate passage occurred after pro-abortion senators suspended a protracted filibuster. Senate Republican leaders had threatened to shut down debate through a rarely used parliamentary motion if opponents refused to allow the bill to come to a vote.
“This bill is a way to give a mother some additional time to think about this life-altering decision, and to talk to family and friends who can help provide support during what is undoubtedly a difficult and emotional time,” Representative Elmer said.
“This bill is an effort to balance the rights of the mother with the rights of the unborn child,” Representative Elmer added. “We are not denying the mother her rights, but simply asking her to give more thought before making a decision she may later regret.”
Opponents claimed that the bill would create an inconvenience for women seeking an abortion. Representative Jeanie Riddle of Mokane offered a pointed response to that argument: “It’s so urgent for a women to have an abortion that you won’t allow them to have all the facts? You think that this is an inconvenience? Some of you here are on the older side–do you want someone to negate your life because you are an inconvenience?”
Should the 72-hour bill be enacted into law, it would combine a significant reflection period with Missouri’s existing informed consent statute, which is already one of the most comprehensive in the country. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states may take actions to encourage a woman to consider childbirth so long as those actions do not constitute an “undue burden” on the woman’s decision. The High Court ruled in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992 that a waiting period was a reasonable requirement to ensure that women consider the gravity of their decision.
Under current Missouri law, a woman who visits an abortion clinic receives a packet of information which includes detailed information concerning the nature and risk of the abortion procedure, and alternatives to abortion. She is provided materials which depict the development of the unborn child at various gestational stages, and is offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound of her child and hear the heartbeat if it is audible.
The woman is also provided the names and contact information of pregnancy resource centers and adoption agencies which would assist her in carrying her child to term. She is also advised of the availability of state and federal programs which may provide financial assistance to cover the cost of prenatal and newborn care. We believe that a woman is entitled to sufficient time to evaluate all this information in an objective, informed, and deliberate manner.
Longer reflection periods also mitigate against intense pressure women receive to abort from boyfriends, parents, and in the case of far too many minors, sexual predators. Proponents of abortion rights insist that they are “pro-choice.” If they truly believe abortion is about a women’s choice, then logic dictates that they should endorse efforts to ensure that the choice is really hers.
Governor Jay Nixon has sent clear signals that he intends to veto the 72-hour waiting period bill. The Governor contends that he is concerned about the impact of the bill on victims of sexual assault. He has decried the fact that the bill does not contain an exception for victims of rape and incest.
Yet Governor Nixon, like this pro-abortion allies in the Legislature, is distorting the rape and incest issue for political purposes. There is nothing in the current law, nor in the revised law, which in any way prevents a woman who has been raped from heading straight to a hospital emergency room for treatment for sexual assault. The law does not impair the right of a woman who has been raped to immediately obtain drugs which may have the effect of preventing conception or implantation.
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Should Governor Nixon exercise his expected veto, it seems extremely likely that the Governor’s veto would be overridden. It takes 109 votes to override a veto in the Missouri House. While there are only 108 Republicans in the House (all but one of whom voted for the measure), there are several right-to-life Democrats who are staunchly pro-life, and would not hesitate to face down the Governor on this question. In the Senate, 23 votes are needed to override. All 23 Republican members of the Senate are on record in support of the bill.
Should this pro-life legislation become part of state statutes, Missouri would be the third state with a 72-hour reflection period. Utah and South Dakota currently have such laws on the books. The Utah law has never been legally challenged. Planned Parenthood initially filed suit against the South Dakota law. But they then withdraw their challenge to the 72-hour provision of the law. We believe they did so because they realized that the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would likely uphold the law. Missouri is located in the same appeals court circuit.
We are most grateful to Senator Sater and Representatives Elmer and Frederick for their many efforts to pass this important life-saving legislation. We also applaud the many pro-life members of the Senate and House who not only voted for this bill, but stood firm in the face of highly vituperative attacks.
We also encourage you to contact Governor Nixon to let him know you believe he should sign this bill into law. The Governor has until July 14th to either sign the bill, veto the bill, or allow it to become law without his signature. You can communicate with the Governor’s office by using this link:
Below you will find a list of how state legislators voted on this issue. We encourage you to take the time to contact them to either thank them for their vote or ask them to reconsider their position.
Here is how Missouri legislators voted on the bill establishing a 72-hour waiting period for elective abortions:
State representatives voting FOR Senate Committee Substitute for House Bills 1307 and 1313:
Representatives Allen, Anderson, Austin, Bahr, Barnes, Bernskoetter, Berry, Black, Brattin, Brown, Burlison, Cierpiot, Conway (Pat), Conway (Kathie), Cookson, Cornejo, Crawford, Cross, Curtman, Davis, Diehl, Dohrman, Dugger, Elmer, Engler, English, Entlicher, Fitzpatrick, Fitzwater, Flanigan, Fraker, Franklin, Frederick, Gannon, Gatschenberger, Gosen, Guernsey, Haahr, Hampton, Hansen, Harris, Hicks, Higdon, Hinson, Hoskins, Hough, Houghton, Hurst, Johnson, Jones (Caleb), Jones (Tim), Justus, Keeney, Kelley (Mike), Koenig, Kolkmeyer, Korman, Lair, Lant, Lauer, Leara, Lichtenegger, Love, Lynch, Marshall, Mayfield, McCaherty, McGaugh, McKenna, Messenger, Miller, Moon, Morris, Neely, Neth, Parkinson, Pfautsch, Phillips, Pike, Pogue, Redmon, Rehder, Reiboldt, Remole, Rhoads, Richardson, Riddle, Roorda, Ross, Rowden, Rowland, Runions, Scharnhorst, Schatz, Schieber, Schieffer, Shull, Shumake, Solon, Sommer, Spencer, Stream, Swan, Thomson, Torpey, Walker, White, Wieland, Wilson, Wood, and Zerr
State Representatives voting AGAINST SCS HBS 1307 and 1313:
Anders, Burns, Butler, Carpenter, Colona, Curtis, Dunn, Ellington, Englund, Frame, Gardner, Hubbard, Hummel, Kelly (Chris), Kirkton, LaFaver, May, McCann Beatty, McDonald, McManus, McNeil, Meredith, Mims, Mitten, Molendorp, Montecillo, Morgan, Nichols, Norr, Otto, Pace, Pierson, Rizzo, Schupp, Smith, Swearingen, Walton Gray, Webber, Wright
State Representatives Voting PRESENT:
State Representatives ABSENT WITH LEAVE:
Cox, Funderburk, Grisamore, Haefner, Hodges, Kratky, Muntzel, and Newman
State Senators Voting FOR SCS HBS 1307 and 1313:
Brown, Dempsey, Dixon, Emery, Kehoe, Kraus, Lager, Lamping, Libla, Munzlinger, Nieves, Parson, Pearce, Richard, Romine, Sater, Schaaf, Schaefer, Schmitt, Silvey, Wallingford, and Wasson
State Senators Voting AGAINST SCS HBs 1307 and 1313:
Chappelle-Nadal, Curls, Holsman, Justus, Keaveny, LeVota, Nasheed, Sifton, and Walsh
State Senators ABSENT WITH LEAVE:
You can contact your state representative by using this link:
Your State Representative
You can contact your state senator by using this link:
Your State Senator
LifeNews.com Note: Joe Oertwerth writes for the Missouri Family Policy Council.