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Missouri Senate votes to end most abortions after heartbeat detected

The Missouri Senate passed a bill early Thursday to protect babies from abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy.

The Republican-led Senate approved the legislation 24-10. It needs at least another vote of approval in the House of Representatives before it can head to Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.

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The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroder, R-O’Fallon, and championed by fellow conservatives, includes exceptions for medical emergencies — but not for the very few pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Doctors who perform abortions after eight weeks face five to 15 years in prison. The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence reported that just 1% to 5% of rapes resulted in pregnancy. When that rate is applied to Missouri it is 50 to 250 pregnancies.

Currently, Missouri allows abortions up to 22 weeks into pregnancy as allowed by current Supreme Court doctrine. The bill passed the House in February with every Republican and three Democrats in support.

“We are, as legislators, acting to do what we’re called to do,” Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, said in debate last week, “which is to uphold the life and the liberty of those we serve.”

They’ve been cheered on by Gov. Mike Parson, a fellow Republican and public opinion.

Parson, who supports the bill, has said he believes this gives Missouri the opportunity to be “one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.”

A new Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive, according to The Hill.

“The people who say abortion should be legal in all cases or illegal in all cases is a minority,” researcher Daniel Cox with the American Enterprise Institute told Hill.TV. “The vast majority of Americans are somewhere in the middle that abortion should be legal under some circumstances and there’s some significant variation.”

The May 10-11 poll found that 21 percent of voters said six-week abortion bans are “too lenient,” 34 percent said they are “just right” and 45 percent said they are “too restrictive.”

Senate Democrats, including Sen. Jill Schupp, of the St. Louis area, attacked the bill on Wednesday.

“Much of this bill is just shaming women into some kind of complacency that says we are vessels of pregnancy rather than understanding that women’s lives all hold different stories,” Schupp said.

“We cannot paint with a broad brush and interfere by putting a law forward that tells them what they can and cannot do,” she added.

The Missouri bill comes as abortion opponents across the country push for new restrictions, hoping that the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, its landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

Hours before the Missouri state Senate passed the legislation, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed into law a controversial abortion bill that will make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison.

The bill contains an exception for when the pregnancy creates a serious health risk for the woman, but not an exception for rape or incest. Only those who perform the abortion, not the woman receiving it, would be punished.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen in the sixth week of pregnancy.

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