Earlier this year the Missouri legislature passed a bill that would give women more time before making the irreversible and tragic choice to end the life of their unborn child. The legislation, HB 1307, would extend the current 24-hour waiting period before an abortion to 72 hours. However, after the legislation passed both chambers, Missouri’s pro-abortion governor, Jay Nixon, vetoed the bill.
He told the Washington Times that “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.”
Although the governor believes that waiting periods are unnecessary, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kevin Elmer, said, “It’s kind of an emotional period and this is just kind of an opportunity to let the mother and those that she may consult in her family and extended friends to have more time to consider the severity of the decision that she’s about to embark upon where she terminates the life of that child.”
Also, the director of Campaign Life Missouri, Samuel Lee said that 24 hours is insufficient time for women to make such a life-altering decision, and that countries with longer waiting periods than the United States have a lower abortion rate. Lee cited the United Nation’s data, which shows that in Germany, and in the Netherlands the abortion rate each year is below 10 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, while the abortion rate in the United States is 19.6 per 1,000 women.
In September, the pro-life legislature will have the opportunity to override the veto. Rep. Elmer believes that since the bill passed by overwhelming bipartisan margins, an override should be possible. Also, Missouri has strong pro-life Democrats, including, Rep. Ben Harris (D-Jefferson County) and Ed Schieffer (D-Troy), who are likely to stand by their initial vote.
House members endorsed the bill by a vote of 111-39, and in the Senate with 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.
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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.
If the legislature overrides the governor’s veto, Missouri will be the third state in the U.S., along with Utah and South Dakota, to require a 72-hour waiting period.
ACTION: Contact the Missouri legislature at https://www.moga.mo.gov/ to support a veto override.