Missouri Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring 72-Hour Wait Period for Abortions

Daniel Doherty

7/3/2014 7:35:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

A controversial anti-abortion bill that would require women to wait 72 hours before obtaining an abortion, which was passed by both chambers of the Missouri state legislature, was vetoed yesterday by Governor Jay Nixon (D-MO). The proposed bill does not grant any exemptions -- which, among other reasons, is why it was vetoed in the first place:

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Wednesday vetoed a bill requiring women to wait three days for an abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

The state's Senate and House of Representatives in May approved the bill that would have extended the minimum waiting period before a woman could have an abortion to 72 hours from 24 hours, without exception.

Nixon, a Democrat, said in a statement that lawmakers' failure to include an exception for rape or incest "demonstrates a callous disregard for women who find themselves in horrific circumstances."

Pro-choice Democrats will inevitably argue this bill goes way too far. But pro-lifers would respectfully disagree. They would argue that the bill does not seek to limit choice or access to abortion; rather, it is designed merely to give women "additional time" to weigh the consequences of their decisions. This is a point Republican lawmakers have made all along:

“Currently, Missouri requires a 24-hour waiting period between the time a woman seeks her first consultation and exam from a physician and the time she returns to undergo an abortion procedure,” state Rep. Kevin Elmer said in a statement.

The reason for the extended waiting period is so the woman has more time to fully consider the decision she is about to make.

“This bill is a way to give a potential mother some additional time to think about this life-altering decision, and to talk to family and friends who can help provide support during what is undoubtedly a difficult and emotional time,” Elmer said. “This bill is really an effort to balance the rights of the mother with the rights of the unborn child. We are not denying the mother her rights, but simply asking her to give more thought before making a decision that she may later regret.”

Nevertheless, I don’t expect Missouri Democrats to accept those arguments as legitimate or convincing. So what’s next?

Well, according to Missouri state law, both Republican-controlled chambers of the legislature can override the governor's veto with a two-thirds majority vote. “The bill passed the House by a vote of 111-39 and the Senate with a 22-9 vote, close to the two-thirds needed for a veto override,” Reuters reports.

Thus, there’s a fleeting chance that this bill could still become Missouri state law. We’ll see.