JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – A state law restricting late-term abortions will take effect without the governor’s signature. It is the second year in a row that Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has allowed an anti-abortion bill to become law without signing or vetoing it.
Missouri law already prohibited abortion of viable fetuses, unless necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman.
The new law allows abortions of viable fetuses only to save the woman’s life or when the pregnancy poses harm to a major bodily function.
Unlike most states with laws that ban abortions after 20 weeks, Missouri’s law leaves it to doctors to determine viability on a case-by-case basis.
Nixon said he would allow the bill to become law without his signature because “this legislation was approved by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority in both houses.” The Missouri Constitution allows bills to become law after 45 days if they are neither signed nor vetoed by the governor.
Opponents claim the law could eliminate a woman’s mental health as justification for a late-term abortion.
Opponents say such an exclusion would violate U.S. Supreme Court rulings.