The Missouri House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would require women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion, The Associated Press reports. If the proposal is passed by the Senate and later becomes law, Missouri would become the third state after Utah and South Dakota to require a three-day waiting period before the procedure.
"If you are going to make a decision about life or death, shouldn't it take more than three days to think about it?" Rep. Tim Jones, a Republican, asked at a rally in the state Capitol rotunda, according to the AP.
The House passed the bill with a vote of 115-39 – a tally that would be able to override a gubernatorial veto. In previous rulings, Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has let abortion restrictions pass into law without his signature, the AP reports.
Pro-abortion rights groups say the bill is offensive to women and that they don't need the legislature to make their decisions for them.
"I think women
are smart enough after a trimester or two of pregnancy to have thought about
this really carefully. So having three more days is burdensome and insulting," says Pamela Sumners, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.
A St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic is technically the only clinic in the state that provides elective abortions, though there are hospitals and a few private practitioners who offer the procedure, Sumners says. A wait could force women to make multiple trips to the clinic or to extend their stay in the city, the president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri said, according to the AP.
Anti-abortion groups are pleased to hear about the required delay.
"I welcome any measure that will put the brakes on a woman’s abortion decision, because we know that so often, women – especially young women – come to regret that decision," says Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League.
The House passed an additional abortion-related measure that requires women under 18 to inform both of their parents within five days of the procedure.
"Giving a buffer of time to consider the abortion decision and involving parents in that decision will help to give teens the guidance they need," Scheidler says.
Sumners specifically criticized the parental notification bill for not having any exceptions for cases of rape or incest. “I surely do wish it were the case that everybody lived in such a family that they felt they could tell their parents if they were in a situation with an unwanted pregnancy and they were a teenager," she says. "That’s just not the world in which we live.”
In addition to the current 24-hour waiting period, Missouri law mandates that women must be offered a fetal ultrasound and be given a packet of medical information concerning abortion. In cases of medical emergency, the waiting period would be lifted.