The Missouri House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday gave final approval [press release] to legislation [HB 213 materials] that would ban abortions [JURIST news archive] after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The measure, passed by a vote of 121-33, would impose penalties on doctors who fail to comply with the new restrictions. It 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. The measure was approved by the Senate in April after receiving preliminary approval [JURIST report] from the House in March. The bill will now go to Governor Jay Nixon [official website] for his signature.
Missouri is just the latest of several states to impose restrictions abortions after the 20-week mark, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain. Indiana, Alabama, Ohio and Oklahoma [JURIST reports] have each passed legislation this year which restricts the abortion procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Iowa, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports] have also recently passed legislation restricting late-term abortions.