JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri’s Republican-led Senate defeated Tuesday an exemption for cases of rape or incest to the state’s mandatory waiting period between a woman’s doctor visit and a scheduled abortion.
The party-line 22-9 vote came as lawmakers started debate on legislation tripling the state’s current 24-hour waiting period. That bill was temporarily set aside following the vote on the exemption Tuesday evening.
Republicans opposed the exemption and argued that a pregnancy resulting from rape should be treated the same as others.
“Should the unborn child of rape have different rights and are they less important than another unborn child?” asked the bill’s sponsor Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville. “I don’t think so. I think they are both equal.”
But Democrats said crime victims shouldn’t be forced to wait to terminate a pregnancy. The exemption would also have applied to the 72-hour period instituted under the legislation.
“This just victimizes them further,” said Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence. “It’s just three days to further reflect and be reminded of a crime they were a victim of.”
Under current law, situations deemed to be medical emergencies are exempt from the waiting period requirement.
Missouri would join Utah and South Dakota as the only states to mandate a 72-hour waiting period, should the pending measure become law. The House passed the measure earlier this year.
Supporters said the extended waiting period gives a woman more time to think about the possible consequences of an abortion. Opponents argue the measure is designed to push a woman further into pregnancy before the procedure, which can increase risk.
Debate was temporarily halted again after Democrats offered another amendment that would change the state’s sexual education laws.
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