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Mo. Legislature Poised for Veto Override Vote on 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

Mo. Legislature Poised for Veto Override Vote on 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

September 9, 2014 — The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature is planning a vote this week with the aim of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of legislation (HR 1307) that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours, USA Today reports (Winter, USA Today, 9/8).

In order to override Nixon's veto, two-thirds of state lawmakers must vote for the override in each chamber (Lieb, AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).

With all members of their party present, state Republican lawmakers have enough votes to override any veto if they all vote together, according to the Kansas City Star (Hancock, Kansas City Star, 9/7). The bill passed the state House with more than a two-thirds majority, but the vote in the state Senate was one vote shy of that threshold because of a GOP senator's absence that day (AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).

While veto sessions typically last for one day, the amount of vetoes that lawmakers plan to consider could extend the session to Friday, when one GOP state senator expects to be absent (Kansas City Star, 9/7).

Lawmakers are also expected to attempt to override a veto of another measure (HB 1132) that would extend tax credits for donations made to "a maternity home, pregnancy resource center, or a food pantry" (USA Today, 9/8).

Background on Mandatory Delay Bill

Under HR 1307, survivors of rape and incest would not be exempt from the mandatory delay. Women with medical emergencies are exempt under the state's current 24-hour mandatory delay and would have continued to be exempt under the new legislation.

The bill also includes a provision that would have required the state to revert to the 24-hour delay if a court struck down the 72-hour delay.

Last week, Nixon urged state lawmakers not to override his veto of the bill and several of his other vetoes that are up for override votes. He called the lack of exceptions for survivors of rape and incest "extreme" -- a criticism that he also made when he vetoed the bill in July (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/5).

He also noted at the time that Missouri already has numerous abortion restrictions in place, including mandatory counseling requirements before a woman can obtain an abortion (USA Today, 9/8).

Override Procedures Debated

State Republican legislative leaders believe they can consider the votes all in one day by lumping votes on budget-related vetoes together, reducing the number of votes they will need to consider to 13 instead of 130. "That's the way we are hoping to proceed," state Senator Ryan Silvey (R) said.

However, Nixon has said that lawmakers must consider votes on all 130 items and that doing otherwise would violate the state's constitution (Kansas City Star, 9/7).

Planned Parenthood Responds

Officials from Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic, have not said whether they would challenge the mandatory delay law in court if it becomes law.

If enacted, the 72-hour mandatory delay could mean that patients, who travel an average of almost 100 miles to get to the clinic in St. Louis, would either have to make two trips or stay in the city for multiple nights in order to receive both the consultation appointment and the procedure during the same trip, according to M'Evie Mead, director of statewide organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri.

Both options would increase the financial burden for patients. "It really is just a cruel way to force a woman to delay her health care," Mead said.

Abortion-rights groups have noted that there is no evidence that the longer delay will reduce the number of abortions (AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).