Missouri Governor Vetoes Awful 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period Bill

Yesterday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would have extended the amount of time women are required to wait before getting an abortion to 72 hours, which is very obviously a batshit, restrictive and deeply harmful measure. In a wonderfully scathing statement, he called the bill "extreme and disrespectful." Yep, pretty much.

Waiting periods are a fun little bit of legislation that anti-choice activists have dreamed up in order to make it more difficult for women to get terminate unwanted pregnancies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 states currently have laws that require women to get counseling before an abortion is performed; in 26 of those states, women must wait a specified period of time — usually 24 hours — between the counseling and abortion procedure. You know. Just to make sure they thought about it real long and hard. Because women won't seriously, carefully consider whether they really want to get an abortion if the government doesn't force them to.

While "pro-life" politicians purport that this sort of legislation is meant to protect women's psychological health, it's quite obviously really meant to prevent women from getting abortion procedures. As the Kaiser Family Foundation notes, much of the information provided in the mandatory counseling session is misleading, and mandatory waiting periods "may present a hardship for many women, as they necessitate two trips to the health care provider." In states where TRAP laws are forcing clinics to close, this unnecessary burden is even worse.


Missouri currently has a 24-hour abortion waiting period in place; the proposed bill would have tripled it with no exception for cases of rape and incest. (When Democrats in the Missouri Senate pushed for rape and incept exceptions, a Republican Senator literally said, "Should the unborn child of a rape victim have a different life or be less important than another unborn child?", indicating that he thinks the "life" of an unborn child is more important than a woman's right to not carry her rapist's child. Rage-inducing. So, so rage-inducing.)

In a scathing statement released after vetoing the bill, Gov. Nixon recognized that the law wasn't meant to protect women's health in any way, shape or form. He wrote:

By failing to include an exception for rape and incest, House Bill 1307 demonstrates a callous disregard for women who find themselves in horrific circumstances and would make Missouri one of just two states in the nation to take such an extreme step. Lengthening the already extensive waiting period serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women who have undoubtedly already spent considerable time wrestling with perhaps the most difficult decision they may ever have to make.

YES. EXACTLY RIGHT. And a departure from Nixon's usual politics — as RH Reality Check points out, "2010 bill mandating ultrasounds, a 2011 bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, and a 2013 bill restricting the use of medication abortion all became law as Nixon declined to sign or veto the bills." Maybe conservatives are finally waking up and smelling the crazy? Or maybe this bill was just too blatantly terrible for even an anti-choice politician to support. Who knows.

In a statement, Jennifer Dalven of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project said, "Missouri women have been clear: They are beyond fed up with legislators playing politics with their health. Governor Nixon has shown that he understands that extreme politicians can't be allowed to interfere with a woman's ability to get an abortion just because they disagree with her decision." Thank goddess.

Image via Getty.