Missouri Lawmakers Pass Eight-Week Abortion Ban

Protesters march through the halls of the Missouri Capitol outside the House chamber on Friday in opposition to legislation prohibiting abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

ST. LOUIS (CN) – Amid a wave of new abortion restrictions across the country, Missouri’s GOP-dominated Legislature passed a bill Friday banning the procedure at eight weeks of pregnancy.

In addition to the eight-week cutoff, the bill also imposes up to 15 years in prison for doctors who violate the ban. Women who receive abortions would not be prosecuted.

The final vote in the Missouri House of Representatives was 110-44. It passed the state Senate by a 24-10 vote on Thursday. Republican Governor Mike Parson is expected to sign the bill into law.

The measure was passed a day after Alabama’s governor signed a near-total abortion ban. Missouri and Alabama are part of a movement in Republican-controlled states emboldened by a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court that could eventually overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion up until 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Missouri’s bill also includes an outright ban on abortions, but only if Roe vs. Wade is overturned.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Similar restrictions in North Dakota and Iowa have been struck down in court.

Missouri already had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, with a 72-hour waiting period and only one abortion clinic in the state.

“This is not a piece of legislation that is designed for a challenge,” Missouri’s Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr said. “This is the type of legislation that is designed to withstand a challenge and to actually save lives in our state.”

Democrats in the Missouri Senate voted unanimously against the bill.

“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,” Senator Jill Schupp, D-Creve Couer, said.

House Democrats fought against the bill as well.

“This gives more rights to the rapists than it does the mother,” Representative Doug Beck, D-Affton, said. “Perpetrators of incest would have more rights.”

“This law is barbaric. We should rethink this,” Beck added.

The bill also bans abortions motivated solely by a fetus’ sex, race or indication of possible Down Syndrome, and requires that both parents be notified for a minor to get an abortion. Existing Missouri law requires written consent from only one parent.

Governor Parson has already voiced support for the bill.

On Wednesday he tweeted, “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.”

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