Missouri's GOP-led Legislature passes 8-week abortion ban
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri's Republican-led House on Friday passed sweeping legislation designed to survive court challenges, which would ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.
If enacted, the ban would be among the most restrictive in the U.S. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Doctors would face five to 15 years in prison for violating the eight-week cutoff. Women who receive abortions wouldn't be prosecuted.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign the bill , but it's unclear when he'll take action.
The Missouri legislation comes after Alabama's governor signed a bill Wednesday making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.
Supporters say the Alabama bill is meant to conflict with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationally in hopes of sparking a court case that might prompt the current panel of more conservative justices to revisit abortion rights.
Missouri Republicans are taking a different approach.
GOP Rep. Nick Schroer said his legislation 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," Schroer said. "However, if and when that fight comes we will be fully ready. This legislation has one goal, and that goal is to save lives."
Center for Reproductive Rights CEO Nancy Northup called the measure "unconstitutional."
"Almost 50 years of core protections for women's reproductive decision-making have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court," she said in a statement. "Missouri and Alabama's recent criminal abortion bans and all other affronts to Roe v. Wade, will be challenged and blocked according to precedent and settled law."
Kentucky , Mississippi , Ohio and Georgia also have approved bans on abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Some of those laws already have been challenged in court , and similar restrictions in North Dakota and Iowa previously were struck down by judges.
Missouri's bill also includes an outright ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergencies. But unlike Alabama's, it would kick in only if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
If courts don't allow Missouri's proposed eight-week ban to take effect, the bill includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits that would prohibit abortions at 14, 18 or 20 weeks or pregnancy.
"Laundry, bleach, acid, bitter concoction, knitting needles, bicycle spokes, ballpoint pens, jumping from the top of the stairs or the roof," Democratic Rep. Sarah Unsicker told colleagues on the House floor. "These are ways that women around the world who don't have access to legal abortions perform their own."
Abortion-rights supporters in the House chanted, "when you lie, people die" and "women's rights are human rights" during debate on the measure before being escorted from the chamber. Outside, they shouted "shame, shame, shame" after lawmakers voted 110-44 to pass it.
Several women dressed as characters from the "The Handmaid's Tale" watched silently. The Margaret Atwood book and subsequent Hulu TV series depicts a dystopian future where fertile women are forced to breed.
In St. Louis, a small number of abortion opponents protested outside the Planned Parenthood clinic Friday. Among them was 21-year-old Teresa Pettis, a Catholic who is five months' pregnant with her first child.