The Missouri House of Representatives voted 117-39 Wednesday to approve a bill that would effectively ban abortions in Missouri except for medical emergencies.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy.
Supporters of the legislation called it the “strongest pro-life bill in the country” at a time when Missouri has only one abortion provider.
“I think here in Missouri, we know that life is precious. We want to give women, men, young people the choice: the choice to live,” Schroer said.
Several amendments were added to the bill during Tuesday’s debate. Among the new provisions:
- Prohibits abortions on the basis of race, sex or indication of Down syndrome;
- Requires both custodial parents to be notified if a minor seeks an abortion;
- Requires Missouri residents who are referred by providers to obtain abortions out of state receive the same informed consent booklet they would if they were having an abortion in Missouri.
Another amendment would ensure that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Missouri would ban abortions. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies but not rape or incest. Arkansas passed a similar provision recently and other states, including Louisiana and South Dakota, have a similar law in effect, according to the Associated Press.
Democrats warned that Republicans were rushing to pass anti-abortion legislation to test Roe vs. Wade after Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
They also said that, without any exceptions for rape and incest, the state would lose out on $7.7 billion in federal funding for Medicaid. They said the focus should be less on abortions and more on the health and safety of mothers and children.
“I want to hear you arguing as fervently for resources for mental health funding, for foster care funding and for food funding,” said Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit. “Because it’s not just being pro-life when the child is in utero, it’s being pro-life when the child is here.”
The Senate Health and Pensions Committee had been set to hold hearings on three anti-abortion bills Wednesday morning, but the hearing was canceled after senators debated a tort reform bill late into the previous night.
Samuel King is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter: @SamuelKingNews.