The governor grounded his decision in the bill’s lack of exemption for victims of rape and incest, calling it “a disrespectful measure that would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and well-being of women.” (RELATED: Missouri Gov Signs Bill Prohibiting Teacher-Student Facebook Friendships)
A 2005 study released by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute reported that 1% of women who had abortions reported having been victims of rape.
The governor admitted that that was not his only objection, however, writing that “lengthening the mandate to ‘at least’ 72 hours serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women.”
“This bill is an effort to balance the rights of the mother with the rights of the unborn child,” said Republican Rep. Kevin Elmer. “We are not denying the mother her rights, but simply asking her to give more thought before making a decision she may later regret.”
According to pro-life activist Steven Ertelt, “Under current Missouri law, a woman who visits an abortion clinic receives a packet of information which includes detailed information concerning the nature and risk of the abortion procedure, and alternatives to abortion. … The woman is also provided the names and contact information of pregnancy resource centers and adoption agencies which would assist her in carrying her child to term. She is also advised of the availability of state and federal programs which may provide financial assistance to cover the cost of prenatal and newborn care. We believe that a woman is entitled to sufficient time to evaluate all this information in an objective, informed, and deliberate manner.”
Twenty-one states currently have a mandatory waiting period of 24 hours or more, although only South Dakota and Utah have 72 hour waiting periods. Utah’s law includes an exception for cases of rape and incest.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 111-39 and the Senate by a vote of 22-9. 109 House votes and 23 Senate votes are required to override the veto.