Missouri lawmakers on Friday approved legislation to ban abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, becoming the latest state to put severe restrictions on the procedure.
The legislation passed the Republican-led state house of representatives on Friday afternoon after being approved by the senate early on Thursday, and now heads to the desk of Missouri’s Republican governor, Mike Parson. Parson is expected to sign it.
In an echo of the tight strictures put on abortion in Alabama earlier this week with a law that has been passed but not get come into force, the legislation includes an exception for medical emergencies threatening a woman’s health, but not for rape or incest. Doctors in Missouri could face five to 15 years in prison for performing an abortion after eight weeks, but women would not face criminal penalties for terminating their pregnancies.
“Until the day that we no longer have abortions in this country, I will never waver in the fight for life,” Parson had said on Wednesday at a rally with supporters of the legislation.
Missouri’s vote comes days after Alabama lawmakers approved, and the governor signed, a ban on abortions at any stage of pregnancy. Republican state senators there, all white men, voted down a proposed exemption for rape and incest, allowing abortions only when the woman’s health is seriously threatened.
Other states – Kentucky , Mississippi , Ohio and Georgia – have passed bills to ban abortion after six weeks, the point at which cardiac activity can be detected. They are often dubbed “fetal heartbeat bills” by the conservative forces and extreme activists behind them, even though at six weeks an embryo is neither a fetus nor has a recognizable heart.
The bans, supporters acknowledge, violate current court rulings which have legalized abortion nationwide. But their goal is to get to the supreme court and persuade the justices to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark ruling guaranteeing the right to an abortion.
“Missouri Governor Parson should be ashamed of riding the disgraceful coattails of 25 white men in Alabama who just voted to ban safe, legal abortion,” said Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Missouri’s bill has a provision saying that if Roe is overturned, all abortions would become illegal in the state. It also says that if the eight-week ban is overturned by courts, Missouri will prohibit abortions at 14, 18, or 20 weeks of pregnancy, whichever limit is allowed to stand. The typical provision in other states is to allow abortions until 24 weeks or often later.