It’s official: Abortion will be outlawed after eight weeks of pregnancy in Missouri. That’s before most women know they’re pregnant.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed the controversial bill Friday, making Missouri one of several states to pass near-total abortion bans this year. The law is scheduled to go into effect in August, but opponents of the law are almost certain to sue, which could hinder implementation.
Under the new law, doctors who perform abortions on patients after eight weeks would be subject to 15 years in prison. Missouri already has some of the most restrictive regulations on abortion in the United States. Any person seeking an abortion is subject to a 72-hour waiting period after their consultations. And there’s just one clinic in the entire state that provides abortion services.
Missouri’s new near-total ban on abortion, which the Republican-controlled legislature passed last week, is part of a calculated effort in red states to directly challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Republicans and other abortions opponents want people to sue over the increasingly extreme bans to trigger a legal fight that could end up in the hands of the Supreme Court.
And their efforts have become especially brazen after President Donald Trump appointed two conservatives to lifetime seats on the Supreme Court. Just this year, four states — Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Mississippi — have passed so-called “heartbeat” laws.
Still, Missouri’s new law is a far-cry from Alabama’s recent near-total ban, which Planned Parenthood characterized as “the most extreme legislation we’ve seen passed since Roe v. Wade." The law outlaws abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, unless the mother is facing a “serious health risk.” Doctors performing abortion in Alabama could face a staggering 99 years in prison.
Alabama’s law isn’t set to go into effect for six months, but on Friday, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a lawsuit to challenge it.
"By criminalizing the performance of an abortion (or attempted performance of an abortion) at all points in pregnancy, H.B. 314 directly conflicts with Roe and more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent affirming its central holding,” the lawsuit reads.
Cover image: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bills, banning the procedure on or beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, Friday, May 24, 2019 in Jefferson City, Mo. (AP Photo by Summer Balentine)