In Missouri, the state House of Representatives passed a bill adding hassles for women who want to have an abortion by requiring them to wait 72 hours. The vote was 111-39. The state Senate has already passed the bill.
Starting Monday, activists had staged a three-day "filibuster" against the bill, spotlighting the fact that the legislature has considered 30 anti-abortion bills this term.
The bill now moves to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon for his signature. If he signs, Missouri will become the third state to impose a three-day wait for an abortion. The others are South Dakota and Utah. The margin of approval in the Missouri House is enough to override any gubernatorial veto, but it's one vote short of that in the Senate.
Critics complained that the bill has no exception for rape or incest. The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Kevin Elmer, invoked God and said he was defending the rights of the unborn:
"This is a tragic occurrence—rape, incest—and there's a pregnancy that occurs from it. And I would never say, oh, that's a great situation," Elmer said. "But this is what gets down to the heart of it. The crux of it is for me when does life begin, and how do you value it? For me, even though that tragic situation may occur, I still believe that God is at work in this world and that he'll let bad things happen and he doesn't cause it."Please read below the fold for more on this story.
Democrat Rep. Judy Morgan challenged the bill.
"Those of us who oppose this bill believe it's designed to demean and shame a woman in an effort to change her mind and places unnecessary hurdles on her decision to end a pregnancy," Morgan said.Among the hurdles? Like several other states, Missouri now has a single abortion clinic, in St. Louis. A resident of Chillicothe wanting an abortion would have to travel three-and-a-half hours, meet with the same doctor who would later perform the procedure and then either return home, only to make the trip again three days later or stay in St. Louis for 72 hours. An expensive prospect for someone with a limited income.
The bill includes several provisions, including a requirement that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away. In Mississippi and Texas, similar bills have been passed with the specific intent of closing abortion clinics. Only a lawsuit stands in the way of closing the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. In Texas, several clinics have already closed in anticipation of the law going into effect Sept. 1. The Center for Reproductive Rights is suing on behalf of the Texas clinics. But if the law isn't blocked, it could mean 18 of the state's 24 remaining clinics would close.
In Louisiana, activists say that three of the state's five abortion clinics would close when the admitting privileges provision takes effect. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has already said he supports the bill.
Other provisions include a 24-hour waiting period, reducing the number of abortions a doctor can perform before being designated an abortion provider from five a month to five a year, and requiring that women seeking an abortion read material that discusses alleged mental and physical health effects of abortion. Such material cannot come from an abortion provider but can come from counselors that seek to steer women away from the procedure.