Missouri senate bill seeks to ban abortion after eight weeks even in cases of rape and incest

Tom Barnes

Missouri senators will consider one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the US, which would rule out terminations even in cases involving rape or incest.

The Republican-led senate in the state is expected to consider approving legislation to ban almost all abortions after eight weeks pregnancy before a deadline to pass bills on Friday.

Under the new laws, the only exceptions where terminations could be carried out after eight weeks would be in cases of medical emergency.

If approved, Missouri would join four other states that have passed so called “heartbeat” bills, banning abortions once a foetal heartbeat can be detected – usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.

Pro-choice and human rights groups have condemned the move, expressing particular concern the bill offers no protections for abortion in instances of incest or rape.

“This isn’t about protection — this is about one word, and that is control,” Alicia Hernandez, a community organiser for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Missouri told the News Tribune.

“Women have the right to end a pregnancy. That decision is personal and not political.”

The bill in Missouri comes as lawmakers in states across the US seek to introduce new legislation to impose restrictions on the abortion.

Opponents of the procedure hope the move will prompt the now more conservative US Supreme Court to overturn its landmark Roe v Wade ruling legalising abortion.

Last week, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a heartbeat abortion bill into law, giving the state the power to sentence women to life in prison if they terminate their pregnancies after six weeks.

On Tuesday, senators in Alabama gave final approval to a ban on nearly all abortions in the state, which will become the strictest set of abortion laws in the country if approved by governor Kay Ivey.

The legislation would make performing an abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy with almost no exceptions.

Although Ms Ivey is yet to announce whether she intends to approve the bill, any veto is likely to be overruled by the Republican supermajority in the state senate.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s Republican-led legislature is poised to vote to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure, pushing ahead with legislation that would likely be vetoed by Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The bills up for votes would prohibit physicians from performing a dilation and evacuation abortion except to save a woman’s life.

The procedure, which anti-abortion advocates claim amounts to “dismemberment”, was used in 1,777, or 6.7 per cent, of abortions in Michigan in 2017.

Additional reporting by AP