Missouri lawmakers debated laws restricting abortions this past week. That’s nothing new. It is a debate that occurs to some degree or in one form or another each year in the Missouri General Assembly.
That is because Missouri is overwhelmingly a pro-life state. When lawmakers file bills aimed at curbing abortions they are merely representing the will of their constituents. This year is no different. There are 28 or so different bills that have been filed this session seeking to impose restrictions on abortions.
The top priority for pro-life legislators this session is to pass a law requiring a 72-hour waiting period for abortions. Missouri currently has a 24-hour waiting period.
The House bill extending the waiting period sailed through that chamber mostly along party lines this week while the Senate version hit a roadblock after Democrats launched a filibuster to block it. Nine Democrats in the House voted for its passage indicating the reach of the pro-life caucus.
The argument for the longer waiting period is that it would afford more time for women to consider the consequences of an abortion. If it saves just one more life than it’s worth it, according to proponents of the legislation.
Critics say this is just another attempt to re-litigate Roe vs. Wade, the landmark legal case that made abortion legal across the United States. The government has no business forcing people to wait to exercise their constitutional rights.
They argue that this is just another attempt at erecting a barrier to getting an abortion — a legal procedure.
The practical effect of the bill is that it would create a hardship for some women who live in rural parts of the state because there is only one abortion facility remaining in the state, which is located in St. Louis. Women from out of state Missouri would be forced to incur additional travel and hotel expenses due to the longer waiting period.
They also point out no other medical procedure gets tagged with restrictions like required waiting periods, or laws making a doctor give specific information to the patient before the procedure can be done.
However, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld state laws that enact mandatory waiting periods for abortion under the theory that the state has an interest in ensuring that so grave a choice is well-informed.
That makes sense, which is why we support a longer waiting period for abortions. After all, no other medical procedure involves the purposeful termination of a human life.
Abortion may be legal in this country but that doesn’t make it right. We support any restriction that has the potential to limit this inhumane procedure.