Missouri just passed "one of the strongest" anti-abortion bills in the United States

 cbsnews.com  05/17/2019 17:26:00 

By Kate Smith

/ CBS News

Missouri lawmakers pass "fetal heartbeat" bill

The Missouri House of Representatives just passed House Bill 126, "Missouri States for the Unborn," in a 110 to 44 vote. The sweeping anti-abortion package bans abortions after eight weeks into a pregnancy, among other restrictions, and does not have an exception for victims of rape or incest.

The bill will now go to Republican Governor Mike Parson, who's expected to sign the legislation into law.

"Thanks for the leaders in the House and Senate, we have the opportunity to be one of the strongest pro-life states in the country," Parson said Wednesday, voicing his support for the bill. 

Republican Senate handler Sen. Andrew Koenig described it on Thursday as "one of the strongest" abortion bills to be passed in the U.S.

The legislation is part of an onslaught of anti-abortion measures that have been passed by state legislators in hopes of chipping away at Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that protects a woman's legal right to abortion. On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the state's near-total abortion ban. Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a ban on abortion after six weeks into pregnancy, before most women know they're pregnant. That so-called "fetal heartbeat" bill was the fourth of its kind to be passed this year.

None of the measures, however, have been implemented.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights advocates have vowed to challenge the Missouri ban in court.

"Planned Parenthood will not sit by and watch as politicians take our rights and freedoms to women's health care away," said Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a statement emailed to CBS News on Friday.  

Dozens of Missouri lawmakers spoke out against the bill ahead of Friday's vote. One read a letter she had written to her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, telling her that the odds are stacked against women thanks to laws like the state's abortion ban. 

Many objected to the lack of an exception for rape and incest victims, asking how the opposition could call themselves "pro-life" if they weren't opposed to forcing a young woman to carry her rapist's baby.

The bill's main feature is the ban on abortions after eight weeks, but it also includes a "trigger law" and a ladder of less-restrictive time limits ranging from 14 to 20 weeks, depending on what the courts later find to be constitutional. It also bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a "prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome."

The bill includes increased tax credits for donations to so-called "pregnancy resource centers," which are clinics that aim to discourage women from having an abortion. 

Missouri has 104 "pregnancy resource centers" and only one functioning abortion clinic, according to data compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.

Prior to Friday's vote, Missouri had adopted a host of anti-abortion regulations, including a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking the procedure. 

First published on May 17, 2019 / 1:26 PM

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