Offensive anti-abortion bill vetoed by MO governor

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill today that would have tripled the state’s mandatory waiting period before an abortion to up to 72 hours. This applied even in cases of rape and incest.

House Bill 1307 would have required women who wanted an abortion to wait three days after an initial consultation before being able to have the procedure. The bill also would have required doctors to present the women with materials about fetal pain and an image and audio of the heartbeat from her ultrasound.

The state’s only abortion clinic is in St. Louis. Women in remote areas and in areas far from the city would have had to travel up to 300 miles twice in three days, or arrange lodging in the city during the waiting period to meet the new requirements.

“This extreme and disrespectful measure would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and well-being of women,” the governor said in a statement. “By failing to include an exception for rape and incest, House Bill 1307 demonstrates a callous disregard for women who find themselves in horrific circumstances and would make Missouri one of just two states in the nation to take such an extreme step. Lengthening the already extensive waiting period serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women who have undoubtedly already spent considerable time wrestling with perhaps the most difficult decision they may ever have to make.”

In May, reproductive rights advocates and local women protested the bill for 72 straight hours on the steps of the state capitol through some foul weather. The measure is one of more than 30 anti-abortion bills that were proposed this year by Missouri’s GOP House and Senate.

Supporters of the 72-hour waiting period argue that the legislation is intended to give women more of a chance to change their minds before having the procedure. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, compared the choice to a new automobile purchase in an April hearing on this legislation.

“In making a decision to buy a car, I put research in there to find out what to do,” he told fellow republicans.