Missouri’s restrictive abortion laws match many of the states in its region. Neighboring Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Nebraska have equally strong restrictions on abortion, and Missouri’s waiting period for abortion is as strict as the regulations in South Dakota and Utah.
The 72-hour waiting period caused controversy nationwide when it became law in 2014. A woman must wait 72 hours following informed consent before the abortion can be performed. Before the period begins, a woman is required to receive state-sponsored counseling, which may discourage her from having the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute
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The dispute between pro-life and pro-choice activists became apparent when the Republicans in the Missouri Senate overrode a veto of the law by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who had called the restriction “extreme and disrespectful” to women, according to The Kansas City Star
The law provides no exceptions for rape and incest, the same as with South Dakota’s 72-hour waiting period. Utah has the only other similar law, but it allows exceptions for rape, incest, and other complicated circumstances.
Many states with waiting periods have a 24-hour restriction. State Sen. David Sater, the Republican sponsor of the bill, said extending the period from the state’s previous 24 hours to 72 hours would give more time for the woman to consider the operation. But State Rep. Judy Morgan said the law was meant “to demean and shame a woman to get her to change her mind.”
Missouri only allows abortion coverage in private or public employee health plans, as well as under the Affordable Care Act, in cases of life endangerment. Private health insurance policies can include abortion when clients buy optional riders at additional costs. Public funding can be used for abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
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States with similar health plan restrictions regarding abortion include Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Pennsylvania and Virginia have these restrictions for public employee health plans and under the Affordable Care Act.
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