The Missouri Legislature has given final passage to a bold and expansive pro-life measure that includes a variety of competing and conflicting bans on elective abortion. Governor Mike Parson is expected to take quick action to sign the bill and enact the proposal into law.
The leading provision of the bill is a ban on abortions at 8 weeks of gestation, except in cases of medical emergency. However, the 30-page proposal also includes prohibitions on abortion at 14 weeks of gestation, 18 weeks of gestation, and 20 weeks of gestation.
The bill is constructed to include severability provisions such that if a federal court were to find a particular ban unconstitutional, a restriction at a later stage of pregnancy might be upheld. If federal courts adhere to a lone line of precedent on the issue, none of the prohibitions established in the bill would be expected to survive a legal challenge.
The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly declared in numerous decisions that no limitations can be placed on a woman’s ultimate decision to obtain an abortion prior to the point at which an unborn child reaches the stage of viability.
The pro-life measure also includes yet another abortion ban which would only be “triggered,” or take effect, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision “in whole or in part.” That provision would then ban all abortions in Missouri except those necessary to save the life of the mother.
A determination that the Supreme Court had overruled Roe v. Wade in some substantive fashion could be made through an opinion by the Attorney General, a proclamation by the Governor, or the adoption of a concurrent resolution by both houses of the Missouri Legislature.
The bill ultimately approved by the General Assembly is Senate Substitute for House Bill 126. HB 126 was originally introduced by Representative Nick Schroer of St. Charles County under the framework of a “heartbeat” ban. It would have prohibited abortions “when there is a detectable heartbeat or brain function of the child.” That legislative approach to the issue was abandoned in the final version of the bill.
The Missouri Senate endorsed the revised version of the bill early Thursday morning on a vote of 24-10. The House of Representatives gave final approval to the bill as revised on Friday by a vote of 110-44.
“Today, the Missouri Legislature took a stand for the unborn,” declared House Speaker Elijah Haahr following the adoption of the “truly agreed” version of the measure. “We value the life of every Missourian and believe an unborn child is a human life worth protecting. Our children will remember the moral, not political vote members took today, to protect the voice of the unborn.”
“Abortion is the ultimate in might makes right,” said Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman of Arnold, during debate on the measure. “It is saying that if I don’t have the ability to kill my child, I, as a woman, cannot obtain whatever dreams and hopes I may have. But our freedom cannot be bought with the blood of our children.”
“This legislation is incredibly important to the preservation of all life in Missouri,” said Senator Andrew Koenig, who handled the pro-life bill on the floor of the Senate. “The only difference between an unborn child and a baby is their level of development, level of dependency, and location. This shouldn’t determine whether an unborn child deserves to live.”
Shortly after final passage of the bill on Friday, Governor Mike Parson committed to signing the measure when it reaches his desk. “I’m honored to lead a state with so many people committed to standing up for those without a voice. I pledge to sign this vital legislation as a strong message to the nation that here in Missouri we will always stand for life, protect women’s health, and advocate for the unborn.