The Missouri Legislature voted late last night to triple the state’s mandatory waiting period for women seeking abortion services from 24 to 72 hours, overriding Governor Jay Nixon’s July 2014 veto of the measure. Missouri is one of the five states in the country with only one reproductive health care clinic that provides abortion care.
In his veto, Governor Nixon called HB 1307—which has no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest—an "extreme and disrespectful measure [which] would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and wellbeing of women."
Twenty six states currently force a woman to endure a waiting period before accessing safe and legal abortion services. With this measure, Missouri joins Utah and South Dakota to become the third state with a 72-hour waiting period—the longest in the nation.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
"The only purpose of a 72-hour waiting period is to attempt to punish, shame, and demean women who have arrived at a personal decision that politicians happen to disagree with.
"Every pregnant women faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications, and the right to decide whether to continue or end a pregnancy is guaranteed by the Constitution to her, not politicians who presume to know better.
"The real shame of this law lies with the lawmakers who went to extraordinary lengths to add this latest insulting barrier to the many they have already placed between women and essential, constitutionally protected reproductive health care."
Waiting periods can create a variety of burdens on a woman needing to access abortion—from increasing shame to requiring additional trips to the clinic, which means additional travel time, costs, child care, and time off work. Additionally, extending the waiting period can lead a woman to delay the abortion to later into the pregnancy, which can increase the risks of the otherwise extremely safe procedure.
Missouri women already face steep obstacles to their constitutional right to safe and legal abortion services, including the fact that only one abortion provider remains in the state. Missouri women are also subject to biased counselling laws, restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion services, and restrictions on telemedicine for medication abortion.