Missouri is one of 26 states that require women to wait 24 hours prior to an abortion. The state also mandates that women hear a range of information about abortion and possible alternatives. If one of the bills becomes law, Missouri would become one of three states -- alongside Utah and South Dakota -- to impose a 72-hour waiting period.
State Reps. Kevin Elmer (R) and Keith Frederick (R) introduced the measures, both of which include language ensuring that the state's 24-hour waiting period will remain in place if the 72-hour requirement were overturned in court.
At a hearing on Thursday, Frederick, an orthopedic surgeon, compared an abortion to knee surgery, saying, "It strikes me that the decision to undergo an abortion is at least as important and impactful to a person's life as a knee replacement."
State Rep. Sharon Pace (D) disputed the comparison, saying, "You know when you're pregnant, so 24 hours is not the only amount of time you have to think about this." She added, "You're considering this on an ongoing basis."
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Pamela Sumners said additional time would not affect women's final decisions, adding, "Benevolent paternalism is still paternalism" (French, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/22).