MO Gov’s Vetoes Fail in Blow to Abortion Rights

     JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Lawmakers tripled the waiting period for abortions in Missouri to 72 hours late Wednesday in a record effort to override 47 of the Democratic governor’s line-item budget vetoes.
     The Republican-controlled Legislature needed 109 votes in the House and 23 in the Senate for an override. The House voted 117-44 for the abortion bill, but the Senate ended debate with a vote of 21-9.
     But shortly before midnight, Senate Republicans used a rare maneuver to cut off a Democratic filibuster that would have blocked the veto. The maneuver, called “calling the previous question” had not been used since 2007. Republicans used it to end debate, claiming the issue had already been fully debated in the Senate during the regular legislative session in May, when the parties brokered a deal.
     At that time, Democrats went with the abortion bill in exchange for the Republicans dropping a photo-identification-for-voting bill and a bill that would have required unions to get annual authorizations before collecting dues.
     With the filibuster broken, the Senate got the 23 votes it needed.
     Senate Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, who led the filibuster attempt, said the abortion waiting period bill was “so egregious against the women of Missouri that they had to use … a complete trick to get it done.”
     The American Civil Liberties Union, who has been active in attempting to get Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto to stand, blasted the override.
     “Tonight’s vote represents the latest intrusion of politicians into a woman’s private medical decisions,” ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman said in a statement. “This legislation was never about helping women, but instead is a way for some politicians in Jefferson City to pursue their own political agendas. It’s shameful and it risks women’s health.”
     The 72-hour waiting period is among the longest in the country, opponents said. They also emphasized that women in the state are already burdened in having to travel to St. Louis where the only state licensed abortion provider practices. Others argued that the law contains no exemptions for cases of rape or incest.
     Supporters countered that a life is a life, regardless of circumstances.
     The 47 overridden line-item budget vetoes is a state record and another sign of the fractured relationship between Nixon and the Legislature.
     Most of the vetoes consisted of public safety, education and health concerns. The overrides will cost $35.5 million in general revenue.
     Other overridden budget vetoes included: $2.5 million for reading instruction for students in struggling school districts; $1 million for nonprofit pilot alternative schools in Columbia and St. Louis; $300,000 to establish an autism spectrum disorder clinical unit at Washington University; $200,000 for foster parent training; $100,000 for a mentoring program for children of inmates; and $160,000 to equip Water Patrol boats with defibrillators.
     Lawmakers also overrode Nixon’s veto of a bill that lets school districts designate teachers as school-protection officers who can carry guns in schools.
     That bill also lowers the concealed-carry permit to 19 from 21 and prohibits cities to prohibit an individual with a concealed-carry permit from openly carrying a weapon.

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