Missouri House lawmakers voted to join a growing list of states that will protect unborn babies from abortion once Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Described as the “strongest pro-life bill in the country,” the legislation includes a number of measures to protect unborn babies, including a ban on abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable and an overall ban on abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. It also would require that both parents be notified before a minor has an abortion and ban discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s race, sex or disability such as Down syndrome.
Prior to the vote, state Rep. Nick Schroer, the sponsor of the bill, urged his fellow lawmakers to protect babies in the womb, according to the AP.
“It is time to join the many states providing a commonsense but strong voice for the voiceless children that have yet to be born,” Schroer said. “Today, let us make known to the citizens of this great state and every state in the nation that Missouri stands for the unborn.”
The bill initially banned abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, but lawmakers approved a number of amendments to expand protections for babies in the womb. Lawmakers expressed hope that the new, conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court would uphold protections for unborn babies.
Gov. Mike Parson, a pro-life Republican, supported the legislation in a statement Tuesday, describing it as a “bold stand to protect women’s health and the right to life.”
“As other states in our nation, like New York and Virginia, venture further and further away from the American ideal to uphold the right to life, I’m honored to lead a state with so many people committed to standing up for those without a voice,” Parson said.
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According to Campaign Life Missouri, the bill:
- Prohibits abortion at eight weeks gestation and later, when a heartbeat can be detected. This is contained in the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act”, which also makes legislative findings on the development of the unborn child and the harm abortion causes to women, as well as asserts the state’s interests in protecting both the mother and her unborn child;
- Bans abortion at 20 weeks gestation, when an unborn child can feel pain;
- Enacts the “Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act”, which is a “trigger ban” on all abortions in Missouri, contingent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the adoption of a federal Human Life Amendment or the enactment of a federal Human Life Bill;
- Forbids abortions for Down syndrome, race or gender;
- Recognizes that “God is the author of life” and declares that Missouri and its political subdivisions are a “sanctuary of life” that protects pregnant women and their unborn children;
- Requires that a second custodial parent has to be notified when a minor is seeking an abortion, in addition to the current one-parent consent, with judicial bypass;
- Obligates abortion facilities and family planning agencies to provide the state’s informed consent materials to a women, if they refer the woman out of state for an abortion; and
- Increases the medical malpractice insurance requirements for those who perform or induce abortions to one million dollars per occurrence and three million dollars in the annual aggregate, and adds a new requirement for “tail” insurance (an additional one million dollars per occurrence and three million dollars in the annual aggregate) for physicians who induce abortions using chemicals or drugs that can cause birth defects of the child survives;
Samuel H. Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri, told LifeNews in a statement that they are grateful to lawmakers and the governor for moving forward with such strong protections.
“Missouri is a pro-life state, and we will not let the pro-abortion, pro-infanticide efforts in New York, Virginia and elsewhere carry over into the ‘Show-Me’ state,” Lee said. “We call on all Missourians to not only thank their House members for their initial efforts to pass this bill, but also for all citizens to encourage all lawmakers to get HB 126 across the finish line and on the governor’s desk.”
Earlier this month, Arkansas became the fifth state to pass a law to immediately ban abortions if Roe is overturned. The others are Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota. Kentucky, Tennessee and now Missouri also are considering bills to do the same thing.
The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider overturning Roe, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.