With more and more conservative states pushing stringent antiabortion legislation, Republican lawmakers in Missouri passed a bill that aims to make it what the governor called “one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.”
Early Thursday morning — just hours before a Friday deadline to pass legislation — Missouri’s Republican-controlled Senate voted 24-10 to pass the bill, which would ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, according to the Associated Press. The bill is headed to the Republican-controlled House for approval and, if it passes, it will be sent to Republican Gov. Mike Parson for signing.
State House spokesman Trevor Fox said the bill will be voted on sometime before 6 p.m. Friday, when the legislative session ends.
The governor has showed strong support for the bill, tweeting before the Senate vote, “It’s time to make Missouri the most Pro-Life state in the country! Thanks to leaders in the House and Senate, we are one vote away from passing one of the strongest #ProLife bills in the country — standing for life, protecting women’s health, and advocating for the unborn.”
The action in Missouri comes after similar antiabortion bills have passed in Georgia, Mississippi and Ohio, aiming to ban abortions as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat.
On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the United States. The near-total ban would allow abortions only in dire circumstances, such as when the mother’s life is in danger or when the fetus would not be able to survive after birth.
The Missouri bill would make it illegal for a woman to get an abortion after the eighth week of pregnancy and provide no exceptions for rape or incest, only for medical emergencies.
The bill defines a medical emergency as “a condition which, based on reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert the death of the pregnant woman or for which a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
Doctors who violate such a law could face five to 15 years behind bars, the AP reported.
After the vote in the Senate, the Missouri State Republicans tweeted “HISTORY MADE!”
Sens. Dave Schatz and Caleb Rowden said in a joint statement that Missouri had “passed one of the most pro-life bills in the United States."
“This comprehensive, life-affirming legislation prohibits abortions once a heartbeat has been detected, prohibits abortions when a baby is capable of feeling pain, and would outlaw abortion in Missouri upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade,” the senators said.
However, State Sen. Scott Sifton, a democrat, called the bill “unconstitutional.”
“Democrats succeeded in removing many provisions, but the final product violates Roe v. Wade and unduly burdens the constitutional rights of Missouri women,” he said on Twitter.
As the bill made its way to the House on Thursday, M’Evie Mead, director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Missouri, said state lawmakers “are putting the health and lives of Missouri women at risk in their race to make our state the one that overturns Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court.”
“These bans on safe, legal abortion will have real costs — expensive legal costs and human costs for the women and families who need reproductive health care,” Mead said in a statement to The Washington Post. “At a time when maternal mortality is increasing in our state, we must be doing everything we can to increase access to health care — not cut it. The House must show Missourians that women’s health matters by rejecting this extreme abortion ban.”