The Missouri House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday voted 119-38 in favor of legislation [HB 213, PDF] restricting late-term abortions [JURIST news archive] and imposing penalties on doctors who fail to comply with the new restrictions. The legislation, which is slated to become effective at the end of August, bans abortions of "viable" fetuses. The legislation would provide some exceptions, permitting abortions of viable fetuses only when the woman's life is endangered by a physical illness or disability, or when continued pregnancy poses the risk of substantial physical impairment to the pregnant woman. The legislation further requires a concurring opinion from a second physician before the abortion of a viable fetus can be performed. Doctors who abort viable fetuses in violation of the late-term abortion law could face up to seven years in prison and fines between $10,000 and $50,000. Missouri Right to Life [advocacy website] applauded the passage of the legislation [press release]:
While abortion at any stage of development is an offense against human dignity, certainly we can all agree that subjecting unborn children to the horrible pain of abortion is unacceptable in a civilized society. Unborn Children are the most vulnerable members of the human family and cannot speak for themselves. Our shared humanity compels us to protect the most vulnerable among us, and we are grateful to Rep. Jones and all the Democrats and Republicans who supported this legislation.The bill will now proceed to the Missouri Senate [official website] for debate and voting.
Several state legislatures have acted recently to place restrictions abortions. Last week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a similar bill [JURIST report] that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. Last month, the Kansas House of Representatives approved several new restrictions on abortion [JURIST report]. If the bills are approved by the Senate, Kansas residents will not be able to obtain an abortion after the 20-week mark, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain. Other restrictions include a stringent parental consent and notification system for a minor's abortion and "clear and convincing" evidence for a judicial bypass of parental consent; the ability to bring a civil suit against abortion providers if they violate Kansas law; the right for criminal prosecution of abortion providers if they violate Kansas law; and for abortion providers to inform patients that the fetus is a "whole, separate, unique, living human being."