JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Republicans continue pushing forward legislation challenging abortion laws in Missouri, with the latest act aiming to place a ban on all abortions in the second trimester of the pregnancy.
Reps. Donna Lichtenegger and Phil Christofanelli’s Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act was voted out of the Children and Families Committee with a final vote of 7-1.
This act would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, which many studies on the matter say is the point at which a fetus can feel pain. Rep. Phil Christofanelli’s bill, which was substituted under Lichtenegger’s bill in the committee hearing, would have also created the “Missouri Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Litigation Fund”, a special fund used to provide funding to pay for any costs and expenses incurred by the Attorney General in relation to legal actions defending the provisions that would be set forth by this bill. That provision is not included in the version that moved through the committee.
The United States is one of only seven countries that still permit abortions after 20 weeks, the other six being Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.
This act and others like it have been passed in 16 other states. Kentucky passed a similar law in January of 2017, which was met with some apprehension because of its exclusion of the exceptions for rape or incest. Kentucky passed its law only a week after Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Ohio’s 20-week abortions bill.
If this legislation passes, Missouri would be the seventeenth state to enact a Pain-Capable Act.
This is not the first time pro-life legislators have tried to pass this law or laws like it. In 2015, a similar version of this same legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Although abortions in Missouri follow a strict set of guidelines and stipulations, a woman can still get a legal abortion up to 21 weeks and six days from the day of conception.
“Missouri should lead the nation in pro-life legislation,” Christofanelli said. “I firmly believe that we must protect all unborn children who have developed the capacity to feel the pain of an abortion.”
Although some states have had similar laws as far back as 2010, some states such as Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia have already been wrestling with the idea of the abortion bans in 2017.
Some states wary of passing the law, like Virginia and Florida, fear the effect it will have on potential companies looking to invest in the state.
This post-Trump wave of anti-abortion proposals is hitting the United States and is gaining momentum, and with 32 percent of states already having restrictions on the when and why a woman can have an abortion, Missouri could be the next state to follow suit.