Missouri legislature approves 72-hour wait period for abortions

[JURIST] The Missouri House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [HB 1307, PDF] Wednesday to extend the abortion waiting period from 24 to 72 hours. The House voted 111-39 in favor of the bill after the Missouri Senate [official website] approved the measure by a vote of 22-9 on Monday. The bill is now forwarded to Governor Jay Nixon [official website] for approval and it is still eligible for veto [Springfield News Leader report], as the bill failed to obtain two-thirds approval in the Senate. Nixon released a statement [press release], where he expressed concern over the lack of an exception for rape and incest in the bill. Amendments to the bill did remove a provision requiring women to watch a video of abortion-related information prior to the procedure. If approved, Missouri would become the third state [AP report] in the US to require women to wait 72 hours to have an abortion, joining Utah and South Dakota, whose laws were enacted in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] remain a major political issue across a number of US states in 2014. In a recent article, JURIST Guest Columnist LaJuana Davis of the Cumberland School of Law evaluated [JURIST op-ed] the implications of legislative efforts in Alabama and other states to restrict access to abortions. In April the Florida Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] that would prevent most abortions after the fetus reaches viability. The legislation would require the doctor to conduct an exam before performing an abortion to determine if the fetus is viable. Also in April Mississippi enacted a law [JURIST report] banning abortions 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period, or as early as 18 weeks of pregnancy. Four weeks ago, a judge for the US District Court for the District of North Dakota overturned [JURIST report] a North Dakota law prohibiting abortions as soon as the fetus has a detectable heartbeat. The law would have disallowed abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy before the fetus is considered viable and was therefore struck down [JURIST report] as unconstitutional.

 

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