JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri senators approved legislation Tuesday that would require women to wait three days after seeing a doctor before having an abortion, instead of one day.
The state's informed consent law currently requires a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, and that would be extended to 72 hours under the measure. Women are provided information such as the immediate and long-term medical risks, as well as alternatives to an abortion. They also are given an opportunity to view an ultrasound and to hear the heartbeat of the fetus.
The Republican-led Senate endorsed the abortion legislation 22-9 in an early-morning vote along party lines, and the bill now returns to the House. Lawmakers have until 6 p.m. on Friday to pass the legislation.
Senate Democrats had been stalling a vote on the abortion legislation. But the logjam broke after Senate Republican leaders agreed not to pursue other bills the Democrats opposed. In exchange for allowing votes on the abortion bill and an early voting measure, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said Republicans would no longer pursue a constitutional amendment authorizing a photo ID requirement for elections or a measure affecting union fees for public employees.
Supporters of extending the abortion waiting period say it would provide more time to think about the possible consequences of having an abortion. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he sponsored the bill "for the unborn children that I want to preserve."
Critics of the measure have said it would lead to abortions performed later in a pregnancy, which can increase risks.
Sen. Paul LeVota said the bill puts an unnecessary burden on women.
"It's embarrassing, it's political and it's the wrong thing to do for women," said LeVota, D-Independence.
Missouri's only facility performing elective abortions is in St. Louis. State figures show there were about 9,000 abortions performed on Missouri residents in 2012 and that the number of abortions for Missourians has declined each year since 2008.
South Dakota and Utah also have a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can get an abortion. Utah enacted its requirement in 2012, and South Dakota's measure took effect last year.