Missouri House passes 20-week abortion ban

Missouri House passes 20-week abortion ban

Missouri House lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday that would block abortions after 20 weeks.

The bill, which passed 117-31, would allow an abortion after 20 weeks only if two doctors deem the pregnancy as dangerous, the The Kansas City Star reported Tuesday. Current law bans the procedure after 22 weeks.

The "fetal pain" bill's sponsor, state Rep. Donna Lichtenegger (R), said even if the pregnancy is dangerous, she still wants doctors to perform whatever procedure gives the fetus the best chance of survival.

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"If the baby survives, that's wonderful," Lichtenegger said. "If the baby does die, at least it died with dignity, and you can give a proper burial for that child."

Some medical professionals and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have disputed claims that fetuses can feel pain at 18 or 20 weeks.

“What if we could hear the cry, the response to that pain?” Rep. Diane Franklin (R) asked. “Would we still hold this callous view that this child is a choice, that this child has an anomaly and doesn’t deserve to breathe oxygen, to be held by their mother and father?”

Opponents to the bill say it is still unconstitutional to restrict a woman’s right to choose, especially if the fetus has little chance of survival on its own.

Multiple states in recent weeks have passed laws aimed at restricting abortion, including a 15-week ban in Mississippi, the most stringent in the nation.

There are currently two pro-abortion rights lawsuits filed against Missouri by the Satanic Temple challenging the state’s laws that require women have access to booklets saying “human life begins at conception” and a required 72-hour waiting period. 

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood also sued Missouri in October over the waiting period.