September 11, 2014 — The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature on Wednesday overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of a bill (HR 1307) that will increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours, the AP/Washington Post reports.
The measure will take effect 30 days from Wednesday's vote (AP/Washington Post, 9/11).
The state Legislature also overrode the governor's veto of a separate bill (HB 1132) that approves an additional $500,000 per year in tax credits for donations to crisis pregnancy centers, food pantries and maternity homes. Supporters of the legislation have said that allowing more tax credits for donations to such organizations would reduce abortions, while Nixon expressed concerns that it would reduce money available for other services, including education (AP/Washington Times, 9/10).
Background on Mandatory Delay Bill
Under HR 1307, survivors of rape and incest will not be exempt from the mandatory delay. Women with medical emergencies have been exempt under the state's current 24-hour mandatory delay and will continue to be exempt under the new legislation.
The bill also includes a provision that will require the state to revert to the 24-hour delay if a court strikes down the 72-hour delay (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/9).
By passing the bill, Missouri becomes the third state with a 72-hour mandatory delay law, joining Utah and South Dakota. However, Utah's law includes exemptions for survivors of rape and incest (Skinner, Reuters, 9/11).
Details of Override Vote
In order for the Missouri Legislature to override a veto, two-thirds of state lawmakers have to vote for the override in each chamber (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/9).
Wednesday's vote on the mandatory delay bill in the state House was 117-44, after which the state Senate voted 23-7 for the override. According to the Springfield News-Leader, state Senate Republicans used an unusual procedural move to pass the veto override by cutting off debate and moving to an immediate vote on the legislation (Shorman, Springfield News-Leader, 9/11).
State Rep. Judy Morgan (D) said the mandatory delay bill is "designed to demean and shame a woman in an effort to change her mind" (AP/Washington Post, 9/11).
American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman said in a statement that the "vote represents the latest intrusion of politicians into a woman's private medical decisions" (Reuters, 9/11).
Meanwhile, bill sponsor state Rep. Kevin Elmer (R) said that rape is tragic but that he "believe[s] that we protect life at all costs. That means making sure lives are treated equally" (Springfield News-Leader, 9/11).
Impact and Next Steps
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 (AP/Washington Post, 9/11).
According to M'Evie Mead, director of statewide organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, the 72-hour mandatory delay would 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. Both options would increase the financial burden for patients (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/9).