Planned Parenthood, Missouri's only abortion provider, is asking Governor Jay Nixon to veto a bill passed by the Missouri Legislature that would force women to wait three days before having an abortion.
Women already jump through several hoops to obtain an abortion in Missouri, where the only legal clinic is a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis' Central West End. State law requires women to receive counseling information, sign a consent form declaring their decision to end the pregnancy is free and voluntary, have two health-center appointments and then wait another 24 hours.
"This bill is further intrusion of politicians into Missourians' personal lives," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "Governor Nixon must veto this bill and stand firmly with a woman's right to make her own private medical decisions, including the decision of whether to have an abortion, in consultation with her doctor."
Waiting periods before abortions force women to go further into unwanted pregnancies, increasing the risk of unnecessary complications, Planned Parenthood says. Longer waiting periods also make getting an abortion more complicated for women who have to take time off work or arrange childcare to travel to Missouri's only abortion clinic.
Only Utah and South Dakota require women to wait 72 hours.
One Utah couple, Richard and Chantelle Kendall, say the state's mandated delay turned their already-difficult decision to choose abortion into a nightmare. The couple learned at nineteen weeks that their baby would not survive after it was born.
"Because of Utah's 72-hour mandatory delay, I had to wait a week, being pregnant, feeling this baby kick," Chantelle says. "It was such a nightmare. There's nothing that comes close to that kind of pain."
Nixon has 45 days to veto the bill, but it's unclear if he'll do so. In 2010 and 2011, he allowed two abortion restriction bills to become law by neither vetoing nor signing them, a middle-of-the-road approach that pro-choice activists call "mixed-choice."
Nixon has vetoed legislation that would allow businesses to refuse to offer contraception insurance coverage for religious or moral reasons.
Nixon offered a hint about the possibility of a veto at a press conference this week:
"I've had pretty consistent positions on this. I think everyone knows, obviously, which way I lean on it," Nixon said, according to the Associated Press.
The waiting period bill is only one of more than 30 bills that restrict women's health rights. House Bill 1430 would allow medical staff to refuse health care to women, including denying sexual-assault victims access to emergency contraception. House Bill 1192 requires that both parents be notified before a teen can access abortion services. House Bill 2206 makes it illegal for a doctor to provide an abortion without notarized permission from the woman's partner, even if he is abusive.
"Politicians in Jefferson City have introduced more than 30 bills hostile to women's health this session, and every step of the way, women and men in this state have been organizing to make it crystal clear that politicians should not be involved in a woman's personal medical decision about her pregnancy," says Ron Ellifrits, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
"Planned Parenthood's supporters across the state are counting on Governor Nixon to push back against the legislature's extreme and intrusive agenda to undermine women's health, and we'll continue to make our voices heard."
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