Missouri lawmakers voted to override the governor’s veto Tuesday and enact a 72-hour abortion wait period. The bill is one of the nation’s most restrictive and gives no exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and other circumstances.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, previously called the measure “extreme and disrespectful” toward women because it doesn’t allow exceptions for rape and incest, reports the Associated Press. Missouri already had an abortion waiting period of 24 hours.
The southern state’s abortion laws are second to South Dakota, whose 72-hour wait doesn’t count weekends or holidays, making the wait period even longer at times. Utah also has a 72-hour wait, but it grants exceptions for rape and incest. Missouri lawmakers specifically rejected an amendment to the bill earlier this year that would have granted those exceptions.
Rep. Kathie Conway, a Republican from St. Charles who supported the abortion bill, stated that if “you get a couple of more days to think about this pregnancy, think about where it’s going, you may change your mind” about abortion.
However, abortion-rights advocates called the 72-hour abortion wait period insulting to women who have already done “soul-searching” before going into an abortion clinic. Rep. Judy Morgan, a Democrat from Kansas City, added, “It’s designed to demean and shame a woman in an effort to change her mind.”
Rep. Morgan and other opponents didn’t get enough support to keep the governor’s veto standing. The House voted to override the veto by a 117-44 vote, notes ABC News. Senators also used a rare procedural move to shut off a Democratic filibuster and completed the veto override with a 23-7 vote.
The new waiting period law will take effect in 30 days. The state’s current waiting period also lacks exceptions for rape and incest. It requires physicians to provide women with information about medical risks and alternatives to abortion. It also requires them to offer the woman an opportunity for an ultrasound of the fetus.
Opponents and proponents of the bill spoke out before the vote Wednesday, including women who had gone through with abortions in their past. One supporter of the bill said that she regretted the abortion she had 38 years ago and may have acted differently if the law was enacted then.
An opponent of the bill countered that the requirements would not have changed her mind, because her fetus had a severe chromosomal defect. The woman commented that the waiting period “wouldn’t have changed my mind, but it most definitely would have caused more pain both mentally and physically.”
Missouri currently has one licensed abortion clinic in the state, operated by Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.
[Image: USA Today]