The Missouri Senate passed a bill to limit abortions after eight weeks and also protect babies with Down syndrome on Thursday.
The state Senate voted 24-10 to pass legislation that would prohibit abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy unless the health of the mother was at risk. The bill also contains anti-discrimination measures that would prohibit abortions performed just because of the baby's sex and mental state. It focuses on children diagnosed with Down syndrome, the vast majority of whom are aborted following pre-natal tests taken during the second trimester in Europe.
State senator Bob Onder (R., Lake St. Louis) said the legislation is the culmination of an incremental approach to protecting the lives of unborn children. He called it a "historic" step.
"Bit by bit, we've protected the health and safety of Missouri women and encouraged them to choose life for their unborn children, and we have made an impact," Onder said in a release. "Passing the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act is an important, historic step for Missouri to protect the weakest among us."
Pro-life groups welcomed the legislation, which was passed one day after Alabama's Senate sent a six-week ban to the governor's mansion. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, praised the GOP supermajority for its "bold action." The group cited polling that found that more than 80 percent of Missouri voters support restrictions on late-term abortion.
"An overwhelming majority of Missourians—Democrats, Independents, self-described pro-choice voters, women in greater numbers than men—agree that abortion on demand through birth, even when science informs us unborn children can feel excruciating pain, is extreme," she said in a statement. "Momentum is clearly on the side of life and it is only a matter of time until our nation's laws protect this foundational human right for all children, born and unborn."
Republican-controlled states have adopted abortion reforms in recent months following New York's passage of a bill allowing abortion up until the point of birth. The pro-life effort intensified after Virginia Democratic governor Ralph Northam, a physician, spoke candidly about allowing survivors of abortions to die on the table unless their mothers approved of caring for them.
Missouri's Republican governor Mike Parson has indicated that he would sign abortion limitations. He contrasted Missouri's legislation with the extreme pro-abortion policies supported by Democrats across the country.
"As other states like New York and Virginia venture further away from the American ideal to protect and uphold the right to life, I’m honored to lead a state with so many people who are committed to standing up for those without a voice," he said.
State representative Kathy Swan (R., Cape Girardeau), a co-author of the legislation, said that Missouri needed to be proactive about defending the lives of the unborn.
"Missouri respects and loves life, and one reason I serve is to protect it," she said in a statement. "We will no longer tolerate abortion, especially when we know that the baby feels the pain of it."
The Senate version of the bill will now be sent back to the House before arriving at Parson's desk.