On July 2, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a dangerous bill that would have required women seeking a safe, legal abortion to wait at least 72 hours before getting the procedure. The three-day period was three times as long as the state’s existing mandatory waiting period of 24 hours.
This bill would have forced women to schedule a procedure (in addition to time off work, child care, and travel) over multiple days — a senseless delay for political, not medical, reasons. Only Utah and South Dakota have enacted similarly extreme, mandatory delays for abortion, leading to heartbreaking stories of women forced to wait.
Thank You, Governor Nixon
We’re psyched that Governor Nixon took a stand for Missouri women — and for common sense. In his veto letter, he rightly pointed out that the bill would have harmed women’s health and created financial barriers for them.
“Expanding the mandatory waiting period presupposes that women are unable to make up their own minds without further government intervention. This is insulting to women,” Nixon said in his veto letter. Well put, sir!
Remember the 72-Hour ‘Women’s Filibuster’?
Nixon is an obvious champion of women’s health and of his own constituents: His veto came after months of overwhelming opposition from Missourians to a bill that politicians pushed through in the dead of night. That opposition included a 72-hour “Women’s Filibuster” protest on the steps of the Missouri Capitol. In May, women camped out for three days and nights at the State Capitol, and thousands tweeted to hold Missouri politicians accountable for trying to take away women’s right to make their own medical decisions.
Why It Matters, Even Outside of Missouri
Missouri isn’t the only state with out-of-touch politicians launching attacks on women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Twenty-two states currently have five or more types of restrictions on abortion access — that’s five or more types of restrictions per state.
In addition to Missouri, the Guttmacher Institute counts 25 states that require waiting periods between mandated counseling about abortion and the procedure itself. Planned Parenthood already provides support, counseling, and information to its patients in Missouri to help women make decisions for themselves and enable them to take care of their health and well-being.
The Good News
Across the country, lawmakers like Nixon in a growing number of states are fighting back dangerous restrictions and championing measures to expand and protect access to birth control, basic preventive care, and abortion.
This unprecedented wave of pro-women’s health bills shows that legislators are beginning to listen to their constituents and the groundswell of opposition to measures that target women’s health and safety. In fact, according to Guttmacher, more than 70 provisions have been introduced in 2014 that would expand or protect access to safe and legal abortion — that’s more proactive provisions than have ever been introduced in a single year since the early 1990s!
Women are watching their state legislatures — and because of that, the tide is beginning to turn in the fight to protect women’s health.