This week, Missouri Legislature’s Republicans are attempting to make it even harder for women to access abortions. In a move that Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has denounced as “extreme and disrespectful,” the state is now poised to pass a bill that would mandate a 72-hour waiting period for women wanting to terminate a pregnancy. This is triple the current 24-hour waiting period. “Our intent is to make sure that a women has the opportunity to really think through what she’s about to do and how it will affect her health as well as the life of her baby,” Susan Klein, a lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life, told the Associated Press.
However, opponents maintain the most jarring aspect of this bill is its omissions, specifically the fact that it makes no exceptions for victims of rape and incest.
“By failing to include an exception for rape and incest, House Bill 1307 demonstrates a callous disregard for women who find themselves in horrific circumstances,” Gov. Nixon said when he initially vetoed the bill.
“Lengthening the already extensive waiting period serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women who have undoubtedly already spent considerable time wrestling with perhaps the most difficult decision they may ever have to make,” he continued.
But even as Nixon signed his name on the veto, an override seemed inescapable. The GOP knows it has the votes it needs, and this is just one more step in a clear trend that has been emerging. In less than a decade, three Missouri clinics have quit offering abortions, so many patients have to travel an average of nearly 100 miles to terminate their pregnancies in St. Louis. Adding an additional two days to the waiting period is yet another hurdle for women seeking help in the area.
“It really is just a cruel way to force a woman to delay her health care,” said M’Evie Mead to the Associated Press. She is the director of statewide organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri.
If this bill passes, it would be one of the nation’s strictest limitations on abortion and among the longest waiting periods to date, coming second only to South Dakota, where their 72-hour wait can sometimes extend even longer because of weekends and holidays. Planned Parenthood, which operates the state’s last licensed abortion clinic, has yet to specify whether they would file a legal challenge against an extended waiting period.
Missouri lawmakers will vote on this veto override as well as possible overrides on bills about guns, school transfers and more, at a special session this week.