Legislators take sides ahead of "vigorous" debate on abortion
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Senators took to the floor Wednesday to debate House Bill 126, an anti-abortion measure known as the heartbeat bill.
It would prohibit women from having an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is typically at six to eight weeks. It would also make it a felony to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, unless there is a medical emergency.
Abortion opponents and abortion rights activists filled the Senate halls, waiting to take their spots in the gallery before the debate began.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D - St. Louis, said she has a personal stake in the legislation.
“Women should not be forced to have a baby simply because of a man’s decision to pass legislation and force them to,” she said.
Romana Mrzlja, of the abortion rights activist group NARLA, said everyone will be impacted by the bill, if it is passed.
“It affects all of us because this stops people from getting the care that they need, that they want and that they deserve,” she said.
Sen. Bob Onder, R - St. Charles, sponsor of a similar Senate bill, said he expects there will be a lengthy and “vigorous” debate, but believes supporters will prevail.
“We can protect innocent human life in the state of Missouri and protect the health and safety of Missouri women," he said. "And, we can promote the good work that pregnancy care centers do for women with troubled pregnancies.”
Onder said his goal is to “get the pro-life bill done” by the end of the day. The legislative session is scheduled to end Friday.