A Missouri law that includes a number of new abortion restrictions was enacted Saturday. The legislation became law last month after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) avoided signing the law by citing a provision in the Missouri constitution that allows a bill to become law without the governor’s signature, thereby avoiding a direct endorsement of the law.
The new law expands upon Missouri’s’ existing abortion restrictions by instituting a 24-hour waiting period prior to the procedure, requiring abortion providers to present patients with printed materials detailing the risks of the procedure as well as the physiological characteristics of an unborn fetus, and mandating that a qualified professional “discuss the medical assistance and counseling resources available, advise the woman of the father’s liability for child support, and provide information about the Alternative to Abortion Program.” The law also includes a provision that would ban abortion coverage in the state’s soon-to-be-created health insurance exchange mandated by the new federal health reform package.
Additionally, the law requires women to have the opportunity to view an “active ultrasound” and hear “the heartbeat of the unborn child, if the heartbeat is audible.” It also requires women to be told that a fetus may be able to feel pain. An abortion cannot be performed until women seeking the procedure complete and sign a checklist that states she has been fully informed of all required information.
According to the Courthouse News Service, every woman who seeks an abortion procedure must receive a pamphlet that prominently displays the following language: “The life of each human being begins at conception…Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
According to the Kansas City Star, the only clinics that offer abortion services in Missouri are located in Columbia and St. Louis. Those who advocated against the new laws argued that because women in Missouri often must travel significant distances to obtain an abortion, the new requirements increase the cost (in both money and time) to gain access to the procedure.