Missouri Lege OKs Abortion Restriction

     JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - Missouri lawmakers passed a bill that would triple the mandatory waiting period for abortions.
     The bill would extend the waiting period from 24 to 72 hours between state-required counseling and an abortion. Missouri would join Utah and South Dakota as only three states with such a time period.
     It is unclear whether Gov. Jay Nixon will sign the bill into law.
     Nixon, a Democrat, made no comment to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about whether he would veto the bill, but referred to previous actions on abortion-related bills.
     Nixon has allowed several abortion restrictions take effect without his signature.
     Supporters claim the longer wait gives women more time to consider their decision and would reduce the number of abortions.
     Opponents claim the additional wait places an undue burden on women seeking abortion.
     The only abortion provider in Missouri is in St. Louis.
     State Rep. Gina Mitten, D-Richmond Heights, told the Post-Dispatch she was concerned about the financial hardship for poor women who would have to take three days off of work and find a place to stay.
     Mitten also said there should be an exception for women who become pregnant from rape or incest.
     Utah waives the waiting period if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest or if the patient is 15 years old or younger.
     But bill sponsor Rep. Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa, said life is life and it should be protected no matter the circumstances.
     "This comes down to the crux of this issue, the question - when does life begin?" Elmer told the Post-Dispatch. "If this happens it should be protected."
     A deal in the state Senate this week to end a Democratic filibuster paved the way to the bill's approval, without the rape or incest exclusions.
     Democrats agreed to stand down on abortion and early voting in exchange for Republicans abandoning voter photo identification and a bill targeting dues collection by public sector unions.