JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri House on Friday became the latest state legislature to pass a restrictive abortion bill, sending it to the desk of the state's Republican governor, who is expected to sign it into law.
The bill, HB 126, would prohibit abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy -- after a heartbeat is detected -- though many women often don't know they're pregnant in that time. The bill includes exceptions for what it defines as medical emergencies, such as cases when the mother's life is at risk or she is facing serious permanent injury, but not for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.
The bill's passage comes days after Alabama's abortion law -- the most restrictive in the country -- was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey. Under that law, doctors who performed abortions could be sentenced to life in prison. Alabama Republicans pushed the bill forward with the goal of it going before the Supreme Court, where they hope conservative justices will overturn the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US in 1973.
Republican lawmakers who voted for Missouri's bill have said it bans abortions after a fetus develops to a point where it can feel pain. They also believe it will serve as a "trigger" mechanism that would ban abortion in Missouri if Roe v. Wade was ever overturned.
Protesters were removed from the gallery at the Missouri House after they starting shouting during the hours-long debate. The bill passed 110-44. Its companion bill in the GOP-controlled Senate passed early Thursday 24-10.
The bill now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who was expressed his support for the bill, which he said would make Missouri "one of the strongest pro-life states" in the United States.
"I made a promise to all Missourians," Parson said Wednesday, "that I would continue advocating and promoting a culture of life here in Missouri."
Some Democrats voiced their opposition to the bill, like Sen. Karla May, who accused her colleagues across the aisle of "hypocrisy" for wanting to "protect the child in the womb" while letting Missourians struggle with inadequate healthcare and an unlivable wage.
"If I can't feed what's in the womb while it's in the womb, how am I going to be able to feed it when it comes out of the womb?" she asked. "Those are questions that we gotta be talking about. That's the hypocrisy of it all."
The move comes two days after Alabama's governor signed the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion bill into law.