Missouri has become the latest state to pass a restrictive policy that would criminalise abortion after eight weeks, following the footsteps of Alabama and Georgia.
Should this bill become law, doctors who violate it face a class B felony, which is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Additionally, their professional license would be suspended or possibly revoked. According to the bill, eight weeks is the point at which a foetus has a discernible heartbeat.
The Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act makes no exceptions for rape or incest. The only exception accounted for in this bill is in cases of medical emergency which, in this piece of legislation, is defined as “a condition which, based on reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert the death of the pregnant woman or for which a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
Some lawmakers called the proposed law “far too extreme” and others suggesting that eight weeks gives women plenty of time to choose. Though it stands to be one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the US, Alabama still leads as the most limited with a near-total ban.
Missouri Rep. Barry Hovis, a Republican, inspired outrage when he spoke to his fellow lawmakers about his experience with sexual assault as a police lieutenant, saying that “most of them were dates rapes or consensual rapes.” He said, “I’d sit in court when juries would struggle with those situations, where it was a ‘he-said-she-said,’ which was unfortunate if it really happened.” After the bill was passed, Hovis backtracked on his statement, apologising and claiming that he misspoke. “There is no such thing as consensual rape,” he told a reporter at the Kansas City Star.
Missouri Democrats released a statement underscoring the importance of voting, saying, “This vote demonstrates in stark terms the importance of voting for candidates that will focus on policies that improve health outcomes rather than go backwards.” According to their statement, parts of Missouri have higher infant mortality rates than in developing countries.
On Friday, the state’s House of Representatives passed the bill 110 votes to 44. It will now be sent to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson for approval. Once vowing to make Missouri “one of the strongest pro-life states in the country,” Parson is expected to sign the bill into law.
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