News Law and Policy

Missouri 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period Bills Move Through Committee

Teddy Wilson

If any of the bills passed, Missouri would join Utah and South Dakota as the only states with 72-hour waiting periods.

In Missouri, three bills have been introduced that would each increase the required waiting period for a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy from 24 hours to 72 hours. All are currently moving through committee.

If any of the bills passed, Missouri would join Utah and South Dakota as the only states with 72-hour waiting periods.

HB 1307 and HB 1313, sponsored by Reps. Kevin Elmer (R-Nixa) and Keith Frederick (R-Rolla), were passed along party lines by the House Health Care Policy Committee last week after a public hearing.

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence recently held a hearing on SB 519, a similar bill to those in the house. It is sponsored by Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville).

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During the hearing for HB 1313, Rep. Frederick, who is an orthopedic surgeon, compared abortion to knee surgery. “Very seldom do we make the decision to have the surgery right there, that day,” he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In a piece for the Rolla Daily News, Frederick wrote that a 72-hour waiting period would “give more time for the woman to consider the impact of her decision and to talk with family, friends and just do some soul searching.” He also wrote that such a waiting period would be “appropriate,” even in a case of rape.

During his committee testimony, Sen. Sater made the same argument that knee surgery, as an elective procedure, is no different than an abortion. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

The waiting period legislation is a top priority for Missouri Right to Life, and representatives from the organization gave testimony at both hearings, claiming that the legislation is needed to “ensure that a woman [comprehends] the full consequences of her decision.”

When the senate bill was first filed, Paula Gianino, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, told Rewire, “Women already give considerable thought to this most difficult decision.”

Dina van der Zalm, a student at the University of Missouri, testified before the house committee that she views the legislation as an “abuse of legislative power” because there is no medical cause for the extended waiting period and it adds more barriers to abortion access. “[The legislation] makes the assumption that women are not capable of making difficult decisions without the aid of politicians,” said van der Zalm.

In response to the legislation, reproductive rights advocates took to Twitter to use the hashtag #wait72hours to raise awareness and call others to action.

The house bills will now move to the rules committee for further consideration, and, if passed, can be brought up for a floor vote in the house. The senate bill still awaits a committee vote.

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