What Missouri's New Abortion Law Means For Women
On Thursday, Missouri’s state legislature overrode Governor Jay Nixon’s veto on what is being labeled by some as “one of the harshest abortion laws in the country.” The bill, which will implement a 72-hour waiting period between a mandatory counseling session and an abortion, will make it both financially and emotionally more difficult for women to access reproductive healthcare.
Gov. Nixon vetoed the bill in July, issuing a statement:
Still, the state’s legislature overrode Gov. Nixon’s veto, with the House voting 117-44 and the Senate, 23-7 in favor of the bill.
In 2010, Missouri enacted a bill requiring those seeking an abortion to undergo a medically-unnecessary ultrasound during a consultation 24-hours before the abortion. The following year, the state banned abortions after 20 weeks, and in 2013, the state restricted access to “the abortion pill,” limiting the means by which someone could terminate a pregnancy.
35 states require those looking to terminate a pregnancy to undergo some form of frequently-misleading pre-procedure counseling, and in 26 states, they have instituted some form of mandatory waiting period. While many of those 26 states’ waiting periods are 24-hours long, Missouri will now join South Dakota and Utah as the only other state with 72-hour waiting periods. According to the Guttmacher Institute, existing Missouri state law mandates that abortion-providers deliver written materials that outline a belief that personhood begins at conception.
Lawmakers often present mandatory ultrasounds, consultations, and waiting periods as means of ensuring that the patient is fully aware of the risks involved with an abortion. In reality, these are simply financial and emotional obstacles designed to deter people from seeking reproductive health care. When a patient is forced to make two separate trips to a clinic, not only are they forced to double their cost of travel, but they’re often forced to take time off work. For many, this is simply not an option. Many people work paycheck to paycheck and do not have the ability to take paid time off from work. This puts those most in need in an impossible position designed to force them to undergo an unwanted pregnancy.
Laws like this are generally intended to prevent women from accessing their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to an abortion. In a time where not only abortion, but even contraception are coming under attack from anti-choice activists, laws like this one are major blows to the reproductive rights movement.