Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Vetoes Bill for 72-Hour Waiting Period Before Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Joe Oertwerth   |   Jul 2, 2014   |   2:49PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed 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, making it so a veto override is possible.

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 unborn child.

pregnantwoman15House 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.

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.

Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life, responded to the veto in an email to LifeNews:

Missouri Right to Life is profoundly disappointed that Governor Nixon has taken this step to deny women in crisis pregnancies the protection of a 72-hr reflection period. HB 1307 will, when passed over the governor’s veto, extend the current 24-hour reflection period after consultation to 72 hours before a woman has an abortion. This extra time will allow a woman to reflect on all her options before deciding to go forward with an abortion. Governor Nixon has vetoed a bill that would save babies and protect women from abortion clinics seeking to make a profit on an abortion.

Abortion is a life-changing procedure. It ends the life of an unborn baby; a decision that can never be undone. The procedure can also be harmful to the mother. In making this decision, women need time to review all the medical information and the alternatives available. This bill provides that.

We urge all pro-life legislators of both political parties to vote to override the Governor’s veto of HB 1307.

The Washington Times has more on the veto:

ABC affiliate KSPR reported that Mr. Nixon, a Democrat, said the legislature’s failure to insert an exception for rape and incest “demonstrates a callous disregard for women who find themselves in horrific circumstances and would make Missouri one of just two states in the nation to take such an extreme step.”

“Lengthening the already extensive waiting period serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women who have undoubtedly already spent considerable time wrestling with perhaps the most difficult decision they may ever have to make,” he continued.

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The measure would have made Missouri the third state, along with Utah and South Dakota, to require a 72-hour waiting period to get an abortion, wire reports said.

“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?”

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.

ACTION: Contact Governor Nixon with your complaints here.