The lower house of the Missouri General Assembly passed a bill on Friday to prohibit women from seeking an abortion after the eighth week of pregnancy, days after Alabama enacted the most restrictive abortion law in the United States.
The House of Representatives gave its final legislative approval in a 110-44 vote after protesters were removed from the public gallery. Missouri senators overwhelmingly approved the legislation Thursday.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign the bill into law. He has said he would make Missouri “one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.”
The bill allows for an abortion after the eighth week only in the case of medical emergencies. On Wednesday, Alabama banned abortions at any time, with the same exception.
Similar laws have been proposed in more than a dozen other states as Republican-controlled legislatures push to restrict the rights of women to terminate their pregnancies.
Renewed efforts to roll back Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, have been emboldened by two judicial appointments by President Donald Trump that have given conservatives a solid majority on the court.
At a time when U.S. rates of abortion have sharply declined, the appointments have put fresh energy into the political struggle between religious conservatives and others who believe fetuses should have rights comparable to those of babies after birth, and those who see such restrictions as an infringement on women’s rights. The re-energized debate coincides with the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential
Abortion-rights activists argue that rolling back 45 years of legal precedent to criminalize abortion would endanger women who seek dangerous illegal abortions.
U.S. abortion-rights activists have vowed to go to court to block enforcement of the Alabama law, which is scheduled to take effect in six months.
The Missouri bill passed the Senate on Thursday in a party-line vote, with 24 Republicans supporting it and 10 Democrats opposed.
In common with the Alabama bill, it would outlaw abortion even in the case of rape or incest and make violations by doctors punishable by prison sentences.
The measure would not make women who seek out the procedure subject to criminal prosecution, although opponents of the statute said it was ambiguous about the criminal liability of a woman accused of inducing her own miscarriage.
The measure also would ban abortions altogether except for medical emergencies should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
As of May, lawmakers have introduced legislation to restrict abortions in at least 16 states this year. Governors in four have signed bills into law banning the procedure if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, generally considered to be as early as six weeks.
Some Republicans pushing for abortion restrictions acknowledge they are deliberately doing so to instigate court challenges that will ultimately force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.
The ruling held that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental right to privacy that protects a woman’s right to abortion.
It also allowed states to place restrictions on the procedure from the time a fetus could viably survive outside the womb. The opinion stated that viability is usually placed at about seven months, or 28 weeks, but may occur earlier. (VOA)
Researchers have found that even five years down the line after having an abortion, over 95 per cent of the women said it was the right decision for them.
Published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, the study found no evidence that women began to regret their decisions as years passed.
On the contrary, the women reported that both their positive and negative feelings about the abortion diminished over time. At five years, the overwhelming majority (84 per cent) had either positive feelings, or none at all.
“Even if they had difficulty making the decision initially, or if they felt their community would not approve, our research shows that the overwhelming majority of women who obtain abortions continue to believe it was the right decision,” said study researcher Corinne Rocca, Associate Professor at University of California in the US.
“This debunks the idea that most women suffer emotionally from having an abortion,” Rocca added.
For the findings, the researchers analysed data from the Turnaway Study, a five-year effort to understand the health and socioeconomic consequences for nearly 1,000 women who sought abortions in 21 states around the country.
The analysis included 667 participants who had abortions at the start of the study. The women were surveyed a week after they sought care and every six months thereafter, for a total of 11 times.
While women did not report regretting their decision, many did struggle initially to make it. Just over half said the decision to terminate their pregnancy was very difficult (27 per cent) or somewhat difficult (27 pe rcent), while the rest (46 percent) said it was not difficult.
About 70 per cent also reported feeling they would be stigmatised by their communities if people knew they had sought an abortion, with 29 per cent reporting low levels and 31 percent reporting high levels of community stigma. Those who struggled with their decisions or felt stigmatized were more likely to experience sadness, guilt and anger shortly after obtaining the abortion.
Over time, however, the number of women reporting these negative emotions declined dramatically, particularly in the first year after their abortion. This was also true for those who initially struggled with their decision.
And relief was the most prominent emotion reported by all groups at the end of the study — just as it was at every time point in the study.
“This research goes further than previous studies, in that it follows women for longer, and was conducted on a larger sample from many different clinics throughout the US,” said Julia Steinberg from University of Maryland.
“It shows that women remain certain in their decision to get an abortion over time. These results clearly disprove claims that regret is likely after abortion,” Steinberg said. (IANS)