The Missouri House voted yesterday to remove exceptions for a mother’s health from the state’s later term abortion ban, allowing women only to get an abortion after viability if her life is in immediate danger and two doctors have confirmed that fact.
A bill given first-round approval Monday would remove a general exception for the woman’s health from Missouri’s current law banning abortions on viable fetuses. Instead, it would grant exceptions only when the woman’s life is endangered by a physical issue or when the pregnancy would pose a “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”
It also would require concurrence from a second physician before an abortion is performed on a viable fetus.
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Supporters of the extended ban claim that too many women are allowed to abort simply due to minor health issues or mental health claims, or that doctors are otherwise using the “health exception” at their own discretion. Abortions after 17 weeks account for less that 5 percent of the abortions in Missouri, and the vast majority of those abortions happen before 21 weeks.
Those who opposed the change to the law were given little chance to explain the impact it would have on women seeking these rare later abortions, however, as Republicans shut off floor debate almost immediately. Via Missourinet.com:
The House debated HCS/HB 213 Wednesday for more than an hour, suspending debate until Monday. Only a few minutes into debate Monday afternoon, Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller (R-Willard) recognized Assistant Majority Floor Leader Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) who called for the Previous Question, a motion to vote to cut off debate. Majority Republicans voted in favor of Riddle’s motion, ending both the debate and the amendment process.
Riddle had little explanation afterward when asked by the Missourinet about the move.
“I didn’t see a lot of people standing,” Riddle told us. “So, ready to move on.”
The reason for the action eludes House Minority Leader Mike Talboy of Kansas City.
“I have no idea,” Talboy replied when asked why Republicans moved to cut off debate. “Obviously, they wanted to make sure that nobody had time to debate the merits of the bill.”
The move shocked Talboy, the top Democrat in the House.
“Extremely surprised, considering myself and a couple other of my members on both sides of the issue were standing at microphones,” Talboy said. “I had pro-choice and pro-life members at the microphone at that time.”
House members stand at the microphones on the floor to seek recognition. Riddle claimed she didn’t see any members requesting recognition.
If anti-choice politicians really believe that this ban is appropriate and necessary, why cut off debate before anyone could argue an opposing position?