The Slatest

Missouri Senate Passes Near-Total Abortion Ban

Pro-choice marchers holding banner at State Capitol Building in Missouri.
Pro-choice activists march at the Missouri State Capitol Building in 2002.
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

The morning after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban, the Missouri Senate voted 24–10 to ban abortions after eight weeks, even in cases of rape and incest.

The bill will still need to be sent back for one last vote in the House, where, according to the Kansas City Star, it is “all but certain” to be cleared, given it was already passed there in February. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has already said he will sign the bill.*

Once it is officially passed, Missouri will join Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and Kentucky in a wave of extreme anti-abortion bans. The Missouri bill, which threatens doctors who perform abortions with up to 15 years in prison and offers exceptions only in cases of medical emergencies, is one of the most extreme, given the pointed lack of exemptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking.

Alabama’s new law still leads the group in severity, as it would make abortions illegal—with penalties for doctors up to 99 years in prison—from conception, with exceptions only in cases of significant health risks to the mother or when the fetus has a fatal condition. Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi have all passed so-called heartbeat bills this year that ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. Some have exceptions for rape and incest, but not Ohio or Mississippi.

None of the laws are in effect yet. A judge has blocked Kentucky’s. Ohio’s is already being challenged by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Advocates are taking on Mississippi’s. The ACLU chapters of Alabama and Georgia will challenge their respective laws.

Missouri’s bill, passed by the Senate on party lines, is also virtually guaranteed to be challenged and appealed up. If the bill or any of the others succeed in making it onto the Supreme Court docket and, ultimately, lead to the undoing of Roe v. Wade, the “trigger” provision in the bill will automatically ban abortion completely. Only one clinic in the state, a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, currently offers abortions.

Correction, May 16, 2019: This post originally misspelled Mike Parson’s last name.