Government & Politics

Republican mega-donor demands Missouri Gov. Parson veto eight-week abortion ban

One of the most prolific donors in Missouri Republican politics is calling on Gov. Mike Parson to veto wide-ranging legislation that criminalizes abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy.

Joplin businessman David Humphreys said Thursday that he’s never entered the public debate over abortion, and doesn’t “really want to now.”

But the bill approved by lawmakers last week, which provides no exemptions for victims of rape or incest, “is bad public policy and bad for Missourians,” Humphreys said in an email to The Star.

“While I am personally opposed to abortion, I do support a woman’s right to choose, particularly in the case of rape or incest,” he said. “And I have to believe that the politicians in Jeff City that voted for this bill would themselves support their wives or daughters’ right to choose if their loved ones were raped.”

Humphreys’ continued: “I hope that Gov. Parson will consider the bill’s harmful impact on women and veto this legislation.”

A source close to Humphreys confirmed to The Star that if Parson does sign the abortion bill, Humphreys will bankroll an effort to repeal the new law by putting it on the ballot in 2020.

Humphreys’ threat is not hollow.

Since 2015, he and his family have poured more than $15 million into Missouri politics, supporting various Republican candidates and campaigns.

Among his biggest personal donations was a $1 million check last year to the House Republican Campaign Committee, which focuses on electing GOP candidates for the Missouri House. He also sent a $1 million to Josh Hawley’s 2016 attorney general campaign.

The bill in question would criminalize any abortion beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergencies. Doctors who perform abortions after eight weeks face five to 15 years in prison.

Parson has previously vowed to sign the bill despite its lack of exemptions for rape and incest, declaring “all life has value.”

The governor’s office, focused Thursday on tornado recovery efforts around the state, did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the eight-week abortion ban, the bill also bars abortion after 14 weeks, 18 weeks and then 20 weeks as a fail-safe if the eight-week ban is struck down by the courts.

If there is a medical emergency during the third trimester, physicians must attempt to save the child.

The measure also establishes criminal penalties for abortions sought solely because of a prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome in an unborn child.

And the bill doubles the amount of medical malpractice insurance an abortion provider is required to have and requires physicians who perform medication abortions to have “tail insurance,” which continues to cover them after they’ve retired or changed employers.