JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (April 4, 2018) – Yesterday, the Missouri House passed a bill that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks, defying a Supreme Court opinion prohibiting states from regulating abortions before 24 weeks.
Rep. Donna Lichtenegger (R-Cape Girardeau) introduced House Bill 1266 (HB1266) on Jan. 3. The legislation would prohibit abortions after the fetus has reached “pain-capable gestational age.” This is defined in the bill as “22 weeks since the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period, generally consistent with the time that is 20 weeks after fertilization.”
The bill would allow doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks to protect the life or health of the mother.
On April 3, the House approved HB1266 by a 117-31 vote.
Missouri could become the 20th state to ban abortions at 20 weeks or later. Last year, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed similar bills into law. Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis supported that measure.
“The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America. It challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain,” he told the Columbus Dispatch.
in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Supreme reaffirmed the opinion in Roe v. Wade that a woman has an absolute right to an abortion until fetal viability, while rejecting a trimester structure the court initially used to determine when states could regulate abortion. Current Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from regulating abortion before 24 weeks.
The proposed Missouri law would effectively nullify the SCOTUS criteria.
The opinion of Supreme Court judges notwithstanding, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to regulate abortions. This clearly falls within the objects James Madison said would remain with the state governments – “objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people.”
But in Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS created a constitutional “right to privacy” out of thin air and enforced it on state governments through the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment. Justice Byron White captured the absurdity of the ruling in a blistering dissent.
“I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.”
HB1266 now moves to the Senate for further consideration. At the time of this report, it had not been referred to a Senate committee. One it is assigned, it will need to pass committee by a majority vote before moving to the full Senate.