Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday tripled the time a woman must wait to get an abortion, making its new 72-hour waiting period the nation's second-strictest. Only South Dakota and Utah have equally long waits. South Dakota's is the strictest, as it excludes weekends and holidays from the wait and contains no exceptions for rape or incest. Missouri's law, which will go into effect 30 days from Wednesday's vote, according to the Associated Press, also contains no exception for rape or incest.
Back in April, I suggested that if there were a competition to see which Republican-led state legislature can govern in the least responsible way possible, Missouri would have to be considered a credible contender.
Looking back over the last several months, GOP lawmakers in the Show Me State have tackled voting restrictions, nullification efforts, anti-union schemes, anti-evolution measures, an anti-health care push, and in one particularly striking incident, a foolish impeachment scheme.
Many of these efforts have fallen short, thanks in part to Missouri's Democratic governor, Jay Nixon. But as we were reminded this week, when the governor vetoes some extreme measures, the GOP-led legislature can occasionally override his opposition. Niraj Chokshi reported:
When the Missouri legislature approved the bill, Nixon vetoed it. This week, state lawmakers overrode that veto.
The governor characterized the policy as "extreme and disrespectful" towards women, and "serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional financial hardships for women." Nixon added that the measure "presupposes that women are unable to make up their own minds without further government intervention."
There are also practical considerations to consider.
As Dorothy Samuels wrote yesterday, "In addition to forcing additional clinic trips, costs, child care complications and time away from work -- steep barriers especially for poor women -- waiting periods can result in delaying an abortion until later into the pregnancy, when the risks are greater. Burdensome anywhere, a 72-hour wait is especially problematic in Missouri -- one of five states with just one abortion provider remaining."
That's not hyperbole, by the way. Missouri has a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, which is the state's sole abortion provider.
Missouri spans 70,000 square miles and has a population of over 6 million people.