Missouri House Expected To Approve Ban On Abortions At 8 Weeks – CBS Chicago
The state’s Senate approved the measure on Thursday. The legislation would outlaw abortions after a heartbeat can be detected except in cases of medical emergencies. The ban does not include any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Doctors would face five to 15 years in prison for violating the eight-week cutoff. Women who receive abortions wouldn’t be prosecuted.
Republican lawmakers who voted for the bill in the Senate said it also bans abortions after a fetus develops to a point where it can feel pain.
If courts don’t allow Missouri’s proposed eight-week ban to take effect, the bill includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits that would prohibit abortions at 14, 18 or 20 weeks or pregnancy. Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr has said the goal is for the legislation to withstand court challenges.
A total of 3,903 abortions occurred in Missouri in 2017, the last full year for which the state Department of Health and Senior Services has statistics online. Of those, 1,673 occurred at under nine weeks and 119 occurred at 20 weeks or later in a pregnancy.
Missouri lawmakers have until 6 p.m. Friday to pass bills. Other pending measures include a $300 million bonding plan to pay for bridge repairs across the state.
The measure also includes an outright ban on abortions, except in medical emergencies, if the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortions nationwide were overturned.
“This is an unconscionable abuse of our power as a legislature that will have negative repercussions for the long term,” said Democratic Missouri State Sen. Jill Schupp.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign the bill.
“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 rally with supporters of the legislation.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Leana Wen said in a statement that enacting the measure would be “disastrous.”
“Missouri Gov. Parson should be ashamed of riding the disgraceful coattails of 25 white men in Alabama who just voted to ban safe, legal abortion,” Wen said.
The legislation comes on the heels of a similar law approved this week in Alabama, where the governor signed a bill on Wednesday making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.
Supporters say the Alabama bill is meant to conflict with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationally in hopes of sparking a court case that might prompt the current panel of more conservative justices to revisit abortion rights.
Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia also have approved bans on abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Some of those laws already have been challenged in court, and similar restrictions in North Dakota and Iowa previously were struck down by judges.
Groups such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood promised to sue over Alabama’s new abortion law, which is just what its supporters want. Anti-abortion lawmakers and activists, who have also pushed for so-called fetal heartbeat laws in Georgia and Ohio, hope any legal action against these new laws will make it to the Supreme Court. They believe the court’s conservative majority will finally overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion.
In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed “heartbeat” legislation in May of last year, but a state judge struck down the law this January. The judge wrote in his decision that defenders didn’t identify a compelling reason for the ban, according to The Des Moines Register.
In Mississippi, a “heartbeat” bill was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant back in March. Exceptions would be to prevent a woman’s death or her serious risk of impairment.
“The heartbeat has been the universal hallmark of life since man’s very beginning,” Bryant said in an address before signing the bill.
The Center for Reproductive Rights promised to “take Mississippi to court to make sure it never takes effect.”
In other states, legislators in Arkansas, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri and Kentucky have introduced similar bills this year. Kentucky’s version was stopped from becoming law by a judge earlier this month.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and the CNN Wire contributed to this report.)