NEWSFLASH: Missouri Enacts 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

263288767_dceb2bf542_zLegislators in Missouri enacted a law Wednesday requiring women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours before undergoing the procedure; there are no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest. The bill passed the House and Senate earlier this year but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in July.

Using a rare tactic, the Republican-controlled House voted to overturn the veto by a margin of 117 to 44. The Senate soon followed with vote of 23 to 7 in favor of overturning the veto. Said ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman,

[Last night’s] vote represents the latest intrusion of politicians into a woman’s private medical decisions. This legislation was never about helping women, but instead is a way for some politicians in Jefferson City to pursue their own political agendas. It’s shameful and it risks women’s health.

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The waiting period is among the longest in the country: South Dakota has a waiting period of 72 hours but doesn’t count weekends or holidays, meaning the wait for an abortion could last five or more days. Utah also requires women seeking abortions to wait three days, but makes exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

Gov. Nixon, in vetoing the bill, called the law “extreme and disrespectful” toward women. He added,

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 … 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.

Missouri Republicans have been pushing a number of other draconian anti-abortion bills this year, including one that would require the last clinic in the state to undergo four inspections per year.

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Photo of Missouri state flag courtesy of Flickr user Lee Harkness licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.