The new pro-life heartbeat law in Texas could have repercussions in Missouri. The law prohibits abortion after a heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks.
“The Missouri Times” reviewed several pro-life measures being considered in Missouri. HB 126, signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson in 2019, sought to ban abortions after eight weeks. It included “nestled” components placing additional restrictions at 14, 18 and 20 weeks and did not allow for exemptions for rape or incest survivors. Violation of the measure would be a class B felony. The bill also sought to ban abortions solely based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
A poll of Missourians from St. Louis University and YouGov found that 56 percent of likely voters believe abortion should be prohibited after eight weeks’ gestation, “National Review” reported. The pro-life bill enjoyed broad support from a range of demographic groups, including majorities of white voters and black voters. The survey also found that women were more supportive of the heartbeat bill than men were. These statistics are good news for pro-lifers in Missouri.
A federal judge blocked the bill the day before it was set to go into effect, a decision that was appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel stymied the law in June, upholding the injunction based on the state’s argument that the language constituted bans on abortion, something the court previously opposed in a similar law from Arkansas. Attorney General Eric Schmitt appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court the following month. However, in a rare move, the lower court granted a rehearing on its own motion, meaning it would rehear the case as a full court on Sept. 21. Although the Texas law may not have a direct bearing on Missouri’s case, the attorney general’s office applauded the decision.
Missouri lawmakers have explored several avenues to restrict abortion in the state beyond HB 126, including the standoff this summer over the state’s federal reimbursement allowance and an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman already had committed to continuing the conversation in the next legislative session as well.
“I will fight to defund Planned Parenthood and make sure that every avenue available to protect the unborn in Missouri will be used,” Coleman said. “We’re going to take a close look at what is already on the table and what the court has to say.”
Coleman said a bill mirroring the Texas law’s liability provision also is in the works, noting a similarity to Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act signed into law this summer that allows Missourians to sue law enforcement agencies for violating state gun laws.
Other states are battling with the courts over abortion laws as well, and Missouri officials have been quick to weigh in. A pending Mississippi law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks has been stalled since its passage in 2018 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Parson joined members of Missouri’s congressional delegation in urging the high court to allow it to go into effect and repeal Roe v. Wade.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice