Missouri bill would prohibit abortion after 8 weeks

The Missouri House of Representatives on Thursday began debating House Bill 126, “Missouri States for the Unborn,” a sweeping anti-abortion package that, if passed, would ban abortions after eight weeks into a pregnancy, among other restrictions. The bill does not have an exception for victims of rape or incest.

If the House votes to pass the bill, it will go to Republican Governor Mike Parson, who’s expressed his support for the legislation.

“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.

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The bill is the latest in an onslaught of state-level anti-abortion legislation that aim to dismantle Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that constitutionally protects a woman’s legal right to an abortion. Yesterday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the state’s near-total abortion ban and last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a ban on abortion after six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, before most women even know that they’re pregnant.

The American Civil LIberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and other abortion rights advocates have vowed to challenge the ban in court long before they’re implemented.

After a fight from outnumbered Democrats, the Missouri Senate passed the state’s omnibus anti-abortion package early in the morning Thursday. The bill’s main feature is the eight week ban, but it also includes a “trigger law” and a ladder of less-restrictive time limits ranging from 14 to 20 weeks. 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.”

A late-night addition to the bill also 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.

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