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Senate passes sweeping abortion ban; Republicans declare victory

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After hours of negotiations, the Missouri state Senate passed a sweeping ban on abortions in most instances early Thursday morning.

After recessing for nearly 12 hours, lawmakers voted in favor of a tweaked HB 126 along party lines shortly before 4 a.m. The law bans abortions after eight weeks and doesn’t allow for exemptions for rape or incest survivors.

Additionally, it doesn’t allow for abortions based on race, sex, or a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Both parents of a minor would need to sign off on an abortion procedure under the bill.

Should Roe v. Wade — the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared a woman’s constitutional right to privacy includes medical decisions such as abortion — be overturned, abortions would be illegal outright in Missouri, a state that already only has one clinic. 

It was down to the wire for Republican leadership to pass an abortion ban; lawmakers face a 6 p.m. deadline on Friday to pass bills before the legislative session ends.

Following the bill’s passage, Senate Republicans declared victory.

“We all collectively stand as one to defend the unborn,” Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden told reporters early Thursday morning. “This is a pro-life state.” 

“Surreal moment in Missouri history for the defense of life,” Sen. Bill Eigel said.

Sen. Andrew Koenig, the Senate handler of the bill, received ample praise from his colleagues for getting the bill across the finish line. Eigel called his fellow Republican a “hero” on social media. And Rowden said he “exemplified what it means to be a senator.”

“This pro-life bill will save the lives of hundreds of unborn babies every year in Missouri.  Thank you Conservative Caucus member Andrew Koenig for your hard work in getting this across the finish line,” Sen. Denny Hoskins told The Missouri Times.

“This is one of the best pro-life bills across the whole country,” Koenig said. “It’s one of the strongest bills passed in the country.”

He also dismissed criticisms from fellow conservative Sen. Bob Onder that the bill had been “watered down” during the overnight negotiations. Koenig said the legislation is “much more likely to be upheld” in court during any legal challenge compared to those recently passed in other states.

The bill sparked fierce debate on the Senate floor earlier Wednesday, with Democrats waging a nearly four-hour filibuster. Most took issue with the lack of exemptions for survivors of rape or incest.

“This is an unconscionable use of our power as a legislature that will have negative repercussions” for young girls, Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp said.

“Politicians are putting the health and lives of Missouri women at risk in their race to make our state the one that overturns Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court,” M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, said Thursday morning. “These bans on safe, legal abortion will have real costs — expensive legal costs and human costs for the women and families who need reproductive health care.”

“At a time when maternal mortality is increasing in our state, we must be doing everything we can to increase access to health care — not cut it,” she added.

During the Senate recess — as negotiations were underway — Gov. Mike Parson, joined by other Republican lawmakers, held a rally to affirm his support for the legislation.

“Until the day we no longer have abortions in this country, I will never waiver in the fight for life,” he said.