The Missouri House has passed a bill banning abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant. The state Senate passed the same bill yesterday, and Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign it. Most provisions wouldn’t take effect until August, according to Rewire.
The bill is only marginally less evil than the Alabama law, and similar to a bill passed in Georgia earlier this month. It includes no exceptions for rape and incest, only medical emergencies that threaten the life and health of the mother, and would punish doctors who perform abortions after eight weeks with up to 15 years in prison.
Most frightening of all, the bill contains a section that would immediately outlaw abortion entirely, except for medical emergencies, in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned via the courts, a constitutional amendment, or federal law.
During debate on the bill in the House, lawmaker Barry Hovis, whose name is far too British to be allowed in Missouri, baffled onlookers when he argued that a majority of rapes in the U.S. are actually “consensual.” According to RawStory, Hovis said:
“Let’s just say that someone goes out and, uh, they have, they’re raped or they’re sexually assaulted one night after a college party,” he began. “Because most of my rapes [encountered as a law enforcement official] were not the gentleman jumping out the bushes that nobody’d ever met. That was one of two times out of 100. Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible!”
He later apologized, claiming he was referring to police trying to determine whether alleged instances of sexual assaults were “consensual or rape.” I do not believe him.
The abortion law experts at Rewire explained how the bill is designed to test the limits of Roe:
The measure makes it a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison to perform an abortion at eight weeks’ gestation: the point at which the bill claims—with no basis in actual science—that a fetus with a detectable heartbeat is more likely to be a viable pregnancy. If a court rules that unconstitutional, then the prohibition would be at 14 weeks. If a court strikes that down as well, it would be at 18 weeks. If that doesn’t work, the prohibition would be at 20 weeks.
Of course, for many women in vast swaths of the country, the protections that are supposed to be afforded by Roe barely exist as it is. In October, NPR reported that Missouri had only one abortion clinic still open, thanks to onerous requirements passed by anti-abortion lawmakers.
If you want to donate to fund abortions in Missouri, the National Network of Abortion Funds accepts donations that will fund abortions across the country, or you can donate directly to the Gateway Women’s Access Fund in St. Louis.