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Missouri is latest state to enact strict abortion ban



John Burger - published on 05/17/19 - updated on 05/18/19

Legislation outlaws abortion after eight weeks, but if Roe is overturned, even that time limit will disappear.

Missouri is the latest state to pass a ban on abortion that is bound to be challenged in court. The bill, passed by the state Senate Thursday, bans abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.

The legislation needs a final vote in the House, which already passed an earlier version. Republican Gov. Mike Parson is likely to sign the bill, the Associated Press reported.

“It’s a God-given right to live,” Parson said Wednesday, “and that’s why it’s important for this legislation to get done.”

Under the legislation, doctors would face five to 15 years in prison for performing abortions after eight weeks gestation. There are exceptions for medical emergencies but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Women getting an abortion would not be prosecuted.

Missouri’s Senate approved the bill a day after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed an even more restrictive measure, banning abortions once a fetus is implanted. Other states—Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia—have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, normally around the sixth week of pregnancy. Some of those laws already have been challenged in court, and similar restrictions in North Dakota and Iowa previously were struck down by judges, AP noted.

“If courts don’t allow Missouri’s proposed eight-week ban to take effect, the bill includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits that would prohibit abortions at 14, 18 or 20 weeks of pregnancy,” the wire service said.

“In its Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court noted that viability typically was 24 to 28 weeks. Studies since then have found that some babies born as soon as 22 weeks have survived,” AP continued.

Many of the recent restrictive abortion bans, from states that are mostly in the South and Midwest, are considered to be challenges to Roe v. Wade, in an era when the high court has more members that are seen as potentially sympathetic to striking down Roe. The Show-Me State’s bill also includes a provision that should Roe indeed be overturned, abortions will not be permitted, except in cases of medical emergencies.

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