The GOP-led Missouri House passed Friday legislation banning abortion at eight weeks of pregnancy, sending to the Republican governor a bill that would give the state one of the toughest pro-life laws in the nation.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign the bill, which would allow the procedure for medical emergencies but not rape or incest. The 110-44 vote in favor of HB 126 came as protesters outside chanted “shame, shame, shame” and “when politicians lie, people die.”
Missouri’s vote comes as the latest in a wave of red-state legislation aimed at narrowing the window on abortion. Four states, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, have approved this year fetal-heartbeat bills, which forbid abortions after about six weeks, or when the heartbeat can be detected.
On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill banning abortions after two weeks’ gestation except in cases of a “serious health risk.” The legislation’s sponsors said it was crafted as a challenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
“Today Missouri has sent the strongest #ProLife bill in our nation to @GovParsonMO,” tweeted the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Nicholas Schroer. “I will never stand down in protecting life from womb to tomb and am proud to stand with our most vulnerable.”
Today Missouri has sent the strongest #ProLife bill in our nation to @GovParsonMO. I will never stand down in protecting life from womb to tomb and am proud to stand with our most vulnerable. #MOLeg #MissouriStandsfortheUnbornAct pic.twitter.com/iasm3mY0Ox
— Nicholas B. Schroer (@NickBSchroer) May 17, 2019
Missouri Republicans said the legislation was designed to withstand court challenges. If the eight-week ban is struck down, the limit would be moved to 14 weeks, then 18 weeks, then 20 weeks. The bill also contains a “trigger” to prohibit abortion if Roe is overturned.
Even so, the American Civil Liberties Union announced immediately afterward the vote that it would challenge the bill in court.
“Missouri just joined 5 other states this year in voting to ban abortion,” the ACLU tweeted. “Missouri’s law will be stopped by the courts — just like Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama’s. We all have a constitutional right to abortion and we will fight for it.”
— Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri (@PPMO_Advocates) May 17, 2019
Planned Parenthood blasted the measure as a “monster anti-abortion bill,” while the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List praised the passage of the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, which was approved the day after being approved by the state Senate.
“We congratulate the people of Missouri on this historic victory in the fight to protect unborn children and their mothers,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Spurred on by the extremism on display in states like New York and Virginia, the American people are making their voices heard.”
Under the Missouri bill, pregnant women would face no penalties if found in violation, but doctors would be subject to five to 15 years in prison.
While the Alabama bill was specifically aimed at overturning Roe, Mr. Schroer said his bill is “made to withstand judicial challenges and not cause them.”
“While others are zeroing in on ways to overturn Roe v. Wade and navigate the courts as quickly as possible, that is not our goal,” Mr. Schroer told the AP. “However, if and when that fight comes we will be fully ready. This legislation has one goal, and that goal is to save lives.”
Pregnant women would face no penalties for abortions performed after eight weeks, but doctors would be subject to prison sentences of five to 15 years.
The measure also prohibits abortions based on race, sex or the potential for Down Syndrome, and requires a parent or guardian to notify the other parent before giving written consent for a minor.
This article was based in part on wire-service reports.