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Mo. House Gives 1st-Round Approval To 72-Hour Waiting Period For Abortions; Senate Version Blocked

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
Mo. Capitol

Legislation that would require a 72-hour waiting period for abortions is moving forward in the Missouri House, while its Senate counterpart is stalled.

The House version, HB 1307,  received first-round approval on a mostly party-line vote of 115-37.  Nine Democrats joined the GOP majority in voting "yes."  State Rep. MarshaHaefner, R-Oakville, says extending the waiting period from the current 24 hours is critical.

"If waiting 72 hours changes just one person's mind in the decision they're going to make, they've saved a child," Haefner said.  "This has value."

House Democrats argued that the bill would put more restrictions on women's right to choose and to make their own health decisions, in addition to creating more hardships for those seeking to end a pregnancy. 

"We're down to one facility, Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, that provides abortion services, (and) we have one physician in the state that provides abortion services," said State Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis.  "Women have to travel to St. Louis, (and) they (would) have to wait 72 hours and have expenses staying in St. Louis."

House Bill 1307 needs one more vote before moving to the Missouri Senate.

The Senate, meanwhile, also brought up its version of the bill Wednesday night, but Democrats have launched a filibuster to block it.  State Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, says Senate Bill 519 flies in the face of what Republicans claim to hold dear, smaller government.

"This bill interjects government directly square in the face of a woman who has a difficult decision to make and says, 'we want you to wait longer because we don't think you've thought about this enough,'" Holsman said.  "How is that not big government?"

The Senate version is sponsored by David Sater, R-Cassville, who's also a retired pharmacist.

"I just want the woman, who is pregnant, to have sufficient time to reflect on this life-changing decision," Sater said on the Senate floor.

The bill was laid aside Wednesday night, and it's unknown when GOP leaders may bring it up again.  Two other states, South Dakota and Utah, have 72-hour waiting periods for abortions.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.