World and Nation

72-hour wait for abortion is enacted in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature has enacted one of the most stringent waiting periods for women seeking abortions, overriding a veto by the state’s Democratic governor, Jay Nixon.

The bill, which will take effect next month, increases to 72 hours, from 24, the amount of time a woman must wait to undergo an abortion after first receiving counseling. It does not make exceptions for rape or incest. The vote came late Wednesday at the end of a grueling session in the Capitol, in Jefferson City, where lawmakers set a record in overriding 47 budget line-item vetoes.

The other controversial vote was to override a measure that bans municipalities from preventing people with concealed-carry permits from openly carrying guns.

Abortion rights supporters have argued that the law hampers women’s access to the procedure because they often have to travel far to have one, and the waiting period could force them to incur extra travel and lodging costs and perhaps take time off work. The only clinic that offers elective abortions in Missouri is in St. Louis.

“I believe that that particular bill is a way to shame and demean women into changing their minds about abortion,” said Rep. Judy Morgan, D-Kansas City.

But abortion opponents who supported the bill said that women who wanted the procedure done more quickly could cross the state line into Illinois or Kansas, which have no 72-hour waiting period.

Democratic senators tried to filibuster to prevent the vote, in the hope that a Republican lawmaker, who could not stay past one day for the session because of a prior commitment, would have to leave before the vote was taken. But about two hours into the debate, Republican lawmakers used a procedural move to stop it, and voted along party lines, 23-7. The override passed the House 117-44.

The gun bill cleared the Senate 23-8. Missouri law allows anyone to openly carry a firearm unless municipalities pass laws to the contrary. In July, the City Council in Kansas City voted 9-0 to ban all open carry within its borders. But under this bill, people in Kansas City with concealed-carry permits may carry openly.

Sly James, the mayor of Kansas City, said he was “truly saddened” by the Legislature’s override.

“This legislation is dangerous and unfortunate, and the override puts political interests above the interests of people,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement.