Missouri governor vetoes bill requiring 72-hour abortion waits

Missouri governor vetoes bill that would have required women to wait 72 hours to get an abortion

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have required women to wait 72 hours to get an abortion with no exceptions for victims of rape and incest.

In a written veto issued Wednesday, Nixon said the lack of an exemption for rape and incest victims forced him to quash the bill, which cleared the legislature in May.

"This glaring omission is wholly insensitive to women who find  themselves in horrific circumstances, and demonstrates a callous disregard for their well-being," Nixon wrote.

Missouri law currently requires a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed. If the bill had become law, it would have made Missouri home to some of the nation's strictest abortion legislation.

Only Utah and South Dakota require citizens to wait 72 hours to receive an abortion, and only in South Dakota are victims of rape and incest not given an exemption from the law, Nixon said.

Even if the bill had included exemptions for rape and incest victims, Nixon said he still would have vetoed the legislation. 

"Lengthening the mandate to 'at least' 72 hours serves no demonstrable purpose," Nixon wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Missouri chapter quickly issued a statement praising Nixon's decision.

"A woman should have the ability to make private medical decisions with her doctor -- including the decision of whether to have an abortion," the statement read. "She should not be blocked from receiving medical care for an extended period of time just because some politicians disagree with her decision."

Republican state Sen. David Sater, a sponsor of the Senate bill, said he was extremely disappointed in Nixon's decision and accused the governor of playing politics with a life-and-death matter.

"This is an irreversible and permanent decision, and taking the time to think about the consequences is not unreasonable or a burden. Gov. Nixon decides to be pro-life or pro-choice depending on the next election," Sater said in a statement. "Serious elected officials remember that unborn children are not abstractions to play politics with."

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3:13 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from Missouri state Sen. David Sater, the sponsor of the Senate abortion bill.

The first version of this post was published at 2:56 p.m.

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