MO Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto, Ratifies Statute Mandating 72-Hour Waiting Period for All Abortions

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Sep 11, 2014 5:15 PM
MO Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto, Ratifies Statute Mandating 72-Hour Waiting Period for All Abortions

The Missouri state legislature passed a statute earlier this year requiring all women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours before obtaining one. However, because there were no exemptions enumerated in the bill itself -- and thus deemed too “extreme” -- Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO) vetoed it. That’s why Republicans were forced to cobble together a two-thirds, veto-proof majority coalition to override him and get it on the books -- which they barely did.

The law will go into effect sometime next month:

Missouri women seeking abortions will face one of the nation's longest waiting periods, after state lawmakers overrode the governor's veto to enact a 72-hour delay that includes no exception for cases of rape or incest. The new requirement will take effect 30 days after Wednesday's vote by the Republican-led Legislature, overruling the veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. He had denounced the measure as "extreme and disrespectful" toward women.

The abortion bill was one of the most prominent Republican victories in a record-setting September session, during which Missouri lawmakers also overrode 47 line-item budget vetoes and nine other bills, including one creating a training program for teachers to carry guns in schools. Earlier this year, the Republican-led Legislature overrode Nixon's veto to enact the state's first income tax rate reduction in nearly a century.

Again, the reason the bill is so controversial is because it will be one of the most restrictive anti-abortion statutes in the country. Only two other states have laws requiring women to wait 72 hours before terminating a pregnancy; Missouri will be the third:

About half the states, including Missouri, already have abortion waiting periods of 24 hours. Missouri's current one also lacks an exception for cases of rape or incest. The new law will be the second most-stringent behind South Dakota, where its 72-hour wait can sometimes extend even longer because weekends and holidays are not counted. Utah is the only other state with a 72-hour delay, but it grants exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances.

For those interested, here's how Republicans expedited the legislative process and successfully overturned Gov. Nixon's veto:

After the House voted to override Nixon's veto by a 117-44 vote, senators deployed a rarely used procedural move to shut off prolonged Democratic debate. They completed the veto override by a 23-7 vote, barely getting the required two-thirds majority. Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri's only licensed abortion clinic in St. Louis, has not said whether it will challenge the 72-hour waiting period in court. But the organization has said its patients travel an average of nearly 100 miles for an abortion, and an extra delay could force them to either make two trips or spend additional money on hotels.

As stated above, the measure passed 117-44 and 23-7, respectively, in the House and Senate.