Missouri Senate OKs 3-day abortion waiting period

Missouri senators approved legislation Tuesday that would require women wait three days to have an abortion after first seeing a doctor, instead of the current one day.

The state’s informed consent law currently requires a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, and that would be extended to 72 hours under the measure. Women are provided information such as the immediate and long-term medical risks and alternatives to an abortion. They also are given an opportunity to view an ultrasound and to hear the heartbeat of the fetus.

Senators endorsed the abortion legislation 22-9 in an early-morning vote, and the bill now returns to the state House. Lawmakers have until 6 p.m. on Friday to pass legislation.

Supporters of extending the waiting period say it would provide more time to think about possible consequences of having an abortion. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he sponsored the bill “for the unborn children that I want to preserve.”

Critics of the measure have said it would lead to abortions performed later in a pregnancy, which can increase risks.

Sen. Paul LeVota said the bill puts an unnecessary burden on women.

“It’s embarrassing, it’s political and it’s the wrong thing to do for women,” said LeVota, D-Independence.

Missouri’s only facility currently performing elective abortions is in St. Louis. State figures show there were about 9,000 abortions performed on Missouri residents in 2012 and that the number of abortions for Missourians has declined each year since 2008.

South Dakota and Utah also have a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can get an abortion. Utah enacted its requirement in 2012, and South Dakota’s measure took effect last year.