A Missouri lawmaker hopes to replicate the life-saving success of the Texas heartbeat law with similar legislation in her state.
The AP reports state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit abortions in Missouri once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy.
Like the Texas law, her legislation, the Empower Women, Promote Life Act (House Bill 1987), includes a private enforcement mechanism that allows individuals to file lawsuits against abortionists and those who help them abort unborn babies in violation of the law.
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It is because of this unique mechanism that Texas has been allowed to enforce its law and protect unborn babies from abortion, despite Roe v. Wade.
Coleman’s bill includes other pro-life measures as well, including a provision to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion chain, which does about 40 percent of all abortions in the U.S. It runs the only abortion facility in Missouri.
“We must pass comprehensive pro-life legislation that defunds Planned Parenthood by enacting the Empower Women, Promote Life Act,” Coleman said in a statement. “This important piece of legislation will provide protection to children born in a botched abortion, ban the inhumane practice of dismemberment abortions, and follows Texas’ lead by providing a civil course of action for those who break the law by performing, aiding or abetting unlawful abortions.”
State lawmakers have filed at least 17 pro-life bills so far to be considered when the legislative session begins in January, according to the report.
Coleman’s bill already is being attacked by abortion activists and news outlets.
Maggie Olivia, policy manager for Pro Choice Missouri, slammed Coleman as an “extremist” who is “willing to sacrifice the will of the people and the lives of the people” for political gain, according to the AP.
The editors of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also published an editorial condemning the bill. They argued that Roe v. Wade, which forces states to legalize abortion on demand up to viability, sets a good “balance” between “the rights of the woman” and “the difficult question of when a fetus becomes a person.”
“The Texas law and the Missouri bill both toss out that balancing act in favor of the heartbeat standard, which may be emotionally potent but is medically irrelevant,” they wrote. “The heartbeat starts before an embryo even becomes a fetus, let alone a fetus developed enough to live outside the womb.”
However, many Missourians disagree. They recognize that, even at the earliest stages of pregnancy, unborn babies are valuable human beings and they support laws that protect their lives.
An August poll from Saint Louis University/YouGov poll found that 56 percent of Missourians agree that the state should prohibit abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, including 57 percent of women. Meanwhile, 33 percent said they disagree and 11 percent said they are not sure.
Pro-life leaders estimate the Texas law has saved thousands of babies’ lives since it went into effect Sept. 1, and pro-life lawmakers in other states are planning to introduce similar bills in 2022 with the hopes of saving unborn babies from abortions in their states.
However, others are hesitant because the Texas law still is being challenged in court, and no one knows if it will remain in effect or be blocked. This means there is no certainty that other state laws would go into effect and save unborn babies’ lives.
Since 1973, the Supreme Court has forced states to legalize abortion on demand under Roe v. Wade. States that want to protect unborn babies may only do so once they reach the point of viability, currently about 22 weeks. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.
The Supreme Court recently heard a Mississippi case that directly challenges Roe, but the justices are not expected to issue a ruling until next spring.