Missouri passes abortion law outlawing terminations after 8 weeks


Missouri passes abortion law outlawing terminations after 8 weeks
Demonstrations at Missouri(Source AP)

Missouri has joined a number of other US states to ban abortions after eight weeks with doctors facing up to 15 years in prison if they carry out terminations after that point. Missouri’s Republican-led House has 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 US. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Doctors who perform the procedure would face five to 15 years in prison for violating the eight-week cut-off.

Women who receive abortions wouldn’t be prosecuted. The Republican Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign the bill.

Abortion-rights supporters in the House chanted, “when you lie, people die” and “women’s rights are human rights” before being escorted from the chamber. Outside, they shouted “shame, shame, shame” after politicians voted 110-44 for the bill.

The Missouri legislation comes after Alabama’s governor signed a bill on 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. Republican Nick Schroer said,” my 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,” Mr 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.”

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia also have approved bans on abortion once foetal 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 Lowa previously were struck down by judges.

A total of 3903 abortions occurred in Missouri in 2017, the last full year for which the state Department of Health and Senior Services has statistics online. Of those, 1673 occurred at under nine weeks and 119 occurred at 20 weeks or later in a pregnancy.

About 2900 abortions occurred in 2018, according to the agency. The wide-ranging bill also bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential for Down syndrome.

It also requires a parent or guardian giving written consent for a minor to get an abortion to first notify the other parent, except if the other parent has been convicted of a violent or sexual crime, is subject to a protection order or is “habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition.”

A change was made after hours of late night negotiations in the state Senate to also remove the requirement when the other parent lacks legal or physical custody.

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