JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Democrats on Wednesday slammed an effort to ban abortions in the state at eight weeks of pregnancy — legislation that comes as GOP legislatures across the U.S. are emboldened by the possibility that a more conservative Supreme Court could overturn its landmark ruling legalizing the procedure.
The Missouri proposal includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Doctors would face five to 15 years in prison for violating the eight-week cutoff. However, women who receive abortions at eight weeks or later into a pregnancy wouldn’t be prosecuted.
Senate Democrats launched into an attack on the bill before Republican supporters had a chance to bring it up formally for debate. Lawmakers face a Friday deadline to pass legislation.
“So much of this bill is just shaming women into some kind of complacency that says we are vessels of pregnancy rather than understanding that women’s lives all hold different stories,” St. Louis-area Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp told colleagues on the Senate floor. “We cannot paint with a broad brush and interfere by putting a law forward that tells them what they can and cannot do.”
Republican Gov. Mike Parson plans to deliver remarks Wednesday in support of the measure. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz said the bill is part of a longtime effort to restrict abortion.
“If we eliminate abortion in this state, we would be happy to see that occur,” Schatz said.
Missouri is among several states where abortion opponents are working with renewed enthusiasm following President Donald Trump’s appointment of more conservative high court justices. Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected , which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Alabama’s Senate passed a near-total ban on abortion Tuesday, sending what would be the nation’s most stringent abortion law to the state’s Republican governor. Similar restrictions in North Dakota and Iowa have been struck down in court.
Supporters say the Alabama bill is intentionally designed to conflict with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationally in hopes of sparking a court case that might prompt the justices to revisit abortion rights.
Missouri’s bill also includes an outright ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergencies. But that would kick in only if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
If courts don’t allow Missouri’s proposed eight-week ban to take effect, it includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits ranging from 14 to 20 weeks. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
Other provisions in the wide-ranging abortion bill include a ban on abortions based on race, sex or a “prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome.”
The bill would also require that both parents be notified for a minor to get an abortion, with exceptions. Current law requires written consent from only one parent.
Although Republicans control the Senate, Democrats could stall votes using a filibuster. But that power is limited. Republicans can force a vote with a simple majority.
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