The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Democrats help advance bill on Missouri abortion waiting period

A  measure requiring a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion in Missouri – even in cases of rape or incest – cleared the state legislature Wednesday after Senate Democrats struck a late-night deal with Republicans.

Democrats had repeatedly stalled the bill over the last week, but they held off on a filibuster Wednesday after the GOP agreed to stand down on other contentious issues, including a voter ID bill, in the final week of the session.

The deal came after Senate President Tom Dempsey (R) warned he could shut down the abortion measure debate through a rare procedural move known as moving the previous question.

The bill, which is one of 32 Missouri bills related to reproductive health this year, would triple the mandatory wait time for women seeking an abortion.

“My hope would be that in these additional 48 hours, in fact, the mother would choose not to abort her child,” State Sen. John Lamping (R) said in a floor speech, according to the Springfield News Leader.

Twenty-six states enforce waiting periods for women seeking abortions, the majority of which are 24 hours. South Dakota and Utah both require 72-hour delays.

The number of women seeking abortions in Missouri has dropped by 35 percent over the last two decades, with about 5,820 women obtaining abortions in 2011, the latest data available from the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute. Missouri has just one abortion clinic in the state, which came under heavy assault by this year’s Republican-controlled legislature.

Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said in a statement Thursday that he has “profound concerns” over the bill’s lack of protections for the victims of sexual violence.

In past years, Nixon has allowed abortion restrictions to become law without his signature, earning him a “mixed choice” rating from the reproductive-rights group NARAL Pro Choice.