May 15, 2014

Gov. Jay Nixon must veto Missouri’s 72-hour abortion bill

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has passed on a couple of previous opportunities to jump into the abortion wars, must do so now, and veto the appalling bill mandating a 72-hour waiting period as a barrier to patients.

The Missouri General Assembly’s outsized Republican majority marched on this week in pursuit of its quest to demean women and enact some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who has passed on a couple of previous opportunities to jump into the abortion wars, must do so now. He should veto the appalling bill finalized late Wednesday, even as women from around the nation gathered on the Capitol steps to object in a symbolic “filibuster.”

The bill on its way to the Democratic governor would require a woman to wait 72 hours after seeing a doctor before she could legally terminate a pregnancy. Cruelly, as Nixon has already noted, it would apply even to women who are victims of rape and incest.

If it becomes law, Missouri would join only two other states, Utah and South Dakota, in placing such a barrier before women seeking to obtain a legal medical procedure. The waiting period would be triple the current 24-hour requirement.

Women would be forced to go to the sole Missouri clinic that performs elective abortions — in the St. Louis area — see a doctor, and then come back three days later for the procedure. Low-income women, as usual, would bear the brunt, as it is often difficult for them to take time off of work and line up child care and transportation arrangements.

Supporters of the bill waxed on about giving women more time to think about the consequences of an abortion.

That’s utter nonsense. Women who are considering an abortion have had many weeks to thoughtfully consider their choices.

Republicans also had the audacity to bring up the “life is precious” argument in claiming they wanted to protect the unborn. What hypocrisy. Many of them are the same lawmakers who have opposed Medicaid expansion — which would provide access to better medical care for low-income Missourians, saving some of their lives.

Stopping this preposterous affront to women’s intelligence and reproductive freedom is worth a fight in the summer veto session. If it becomes law, it must be challenged in court. Missouri’s march to the far right on abortion has been and remains an insult to women.

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