The Missouri legislature passed a major pro-life bill Thursday that would ban abortions after unborn babies have detectable heartbeats.
The Senate approved the bill in a 24-10 vote early Thursday and the House put the finishing touches on the bill Friday. Republican Gov. Mike Parson supports the legislation and is expected to sign it into law.
“Until the day that we no longer have abortions in this country, I will never waver in the fight for life,” Parson said during a Wednesday pro-life rally.
The Missouri legislation comes after Alabama’s governor signed a bill Wednesday making abortions illegal and, before that, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a similar heartbeat bill banning abortions.
The Missouri health department indicates 3,903 babies were killed in abortions in the state in 2017 and 119 of those were babies killed after 20 weeks.
The pro-life bill provides protections for unborn babies in a wide range of scenarios, while taking into account court rulings like Roe v. Wade that restrict states from protecting the unborn. The bill bans abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies. Abortionists who violate the measure could be punished with up to 15 years in prison. Women are excluded from prosecution.
It also includes a provision that would completely ban abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned. Additionally, the bill has measures that would prohibit unborn babies from being aborted up to various limits between 14 weeks and 20 weeks if courts strike down the eight-week ban.
The bill declares the state of Missouri and all its political subdivisions a “sanctuary of life” and bans discriminatory abortions for reasons of sex, race, or Down syndrome, it requiring abortionists to have adequate malpractice insurance, and more. The bill now returns to the House for final approval.
“This is the type of legislation that is designed to withstand a challenge and to actually save lives in our state,” said state House Speaker Elijah Haahr, according to the report.
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The bill also would protect unborn babies by banning discriminatory sex-selection abortions and abortions because the unborn baby may have Down syndrome. It also includes expanded tax credits for donations to pregnancy centers. Additionally, it requires that a minor notify both parents before she has an abortion.
The governor urged lawmakers to support protections for unborn babies earlier this week, KSMU Public Radio reports.
“Don’t lose your commitment to protecting life. Because until the day that we no longer have abortions in this country, I will never waver in the fight for life,” Parson said.
However, pro-abortion Democrats slammed the bill as “extreme” during the Senate debate.
“So much of this bill is just shaming women into some kind of complacency that says we are vessels of pregnancy rather than understanding that women’s lives all hold different stories,” state Sen. Jill Schupp said.
She criticized the bill for not allowing exceptions for unborn babies conceived in rape.
“Who knows what will happen to the young girls of this state should this law move forward and prevent those who are already victims,” Schupp said.
Pro-life Republicans defended the bill as life saving. The abortion industry is expected to challenge the legislation if it passes, but state Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he will defend the unborn in court, KSMU reports.
“There have been a lot of cases in front of the United States Supreme Court as it relates to issues around abortion and pro-life legislation that came out of the Legislature,” Schmitt said earlier this month. “If they get something done, we’re ready, willing and able even it takes us all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Polling released earlier this year by SBA List found that 82 percent of Missouri voters – including 66 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Independents, 83 percent of women, and 61 percent of self-described pro-choice voters – support a law prohibiting late-term abortions (only 18 percent support allowing late-term abortions).
The news comes just hours after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law to protect all unborn babies from abortions in her state. Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also signed a law protecting unborn babies from abortions after their heartbeats are detectable, about six weeks.
Meanwhile, Vermont passed a radical pro-abortion law this week that creates a “right” to abort an unborn baby for any reason up to birth. Rhode Island lawmakers narrowly defeated a similar bill this month.