House sends 8-week abortion ban to Governor's desk
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Republican-led Legislature approves a ban on abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.
The house voted 110-4 in favor of the bill, and GOP Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign it.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 24-10 in favor of the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,” which would ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions in a medical emergency, but not rape or incest.
Other components include required parental notification if a minor is trying to have an abortion. In addition, the bill prohibits abortion on the basis of race, sex or indication of Down Syndrome. The bill also adds tax credits to pregnancy centers. It increases those tax credits from 50 to 70% beginning in 2021.
HOUSE AND SENATE REACTIONS
Lawmakers across the aisle were frustrated by filibustering and negotiations on Wednesday working well into Thursday morning. Senators finally came to a compromise around 4 a.m. There were some changes to the language, but the majority stayed the same.
Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, said although he is happy about the bill’s progress, he was frustrated with some of the concessions.
Now, the bill is waiting on a final vote from the House.
Representatives began their session at 2 p.m. Thursday, but the abortion bill has yet to make it to the floor, as of 7 p.m.
Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, said he did not feel optimistic that the Democrats will be able to prevent the bill from passing in the House.
“We will make motions to reconsider, we’ll try to vote down the Senate committee substitutes but there’s not a whole lot that House Democrats can do to prevent this from becoming a law,” he said. “We’re a super minority."
Both Senate and House Democrats were not happy about it, with some even shedding tears.
"It's a bad day. All the fighting we accomplished since the '70s has been turned back," Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said.
Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, said it will make things harder for women and was especially upset about rape and incest not being exceptions to the ban. “It is very extreme and it’s heartless,” she said. “When we think about survivors of rape and incest, you know adult women but also children we’re talking about, I think it’s really heartless and it makes me very sad for Missouri women.”
Republicans said this bill is to protect lives, and they were celebrating the victory Thursday.
"We are excited and relieved to stand before you having passed a really difficult bill, a very substantive bill out of Missouri Senate tonight. We all collectively stand as one to defend the unborn, and it's a subject we care deeply about. It's one, as you see, brings out a lot of emotion," said Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden.
Lawmakers have until Friday at 6 p.m. to make a final vote on the bill before session ends.
SUPPORTER AND OPPONENT REACTIONS
As legislators continue to deliberate, supporters and opponents of House Bill 126 gather at the capitol to give their opinions.
“This is just a long time coming,” Kathy Forck of Team P.L.A.Y. said. “I’m just so glad our legislators felt called to save the lives of these unborn boys and girls in the state of Missouri.”
Team P.L.A.Y. stands for Prayer, Legislation, Action and You. She said a bill like this is going to lead the way for other states to follow suit.
“All people look to Missouri to see what we’re doing here,” she said. “We value human life and our legislators do their very best to help that life.”
So far, Alabama and Georgia have passed similar legislation that bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.
Gov. Mike Parson dubbed HB126 “one of the strongest pro-life bills in the country”, but other Missourians feel it does not maintain the rights of those it is set to protect.
“I have two daughters,” said Christopher Smith, a Springfield resident who opposes the bill. “I don’t want them growing up in a state where the government is getting involved in the decisions they need to make for themselves and their families.”
Organizations that advocate for women’s productive rights feel HB126 is dangerous to women in Missouri because it will prompt them to resort to desperate measures.
M’Evie Mead from Planned Parenthood said this will be a repeat of the past. “We know from when abortion was illegal before, that led to women making drastic, unhealthy and potentially unsafe decisions,” she said. “We don’t want women going back there.”