This extreme, unconstitutional measure is the latest instance of politicians’ misplaced priorities and fixation with ending access to safe, legal abortion.
Senate Bill 408 is an extreme and unconstitutional measure intended to ban abortion in Missouri. It would prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks — before many people even know they are pregnant. The measure requires a physician to perform a fetal heartbeat test within 96 hours of providing an abortion and imposes new criminal penalties.
Senate Bill 408 is about ending access to safe, legal abortion in Missouri.
Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. Data, including from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), show that abortion has a greater than 99 percent safety record.
92% of abortions in the U.S. occur within the first 13 weeks, with 66% occurring within the first eight weeks. This measure would ban abortion after six weeks — before many people even know they are pregnant.
So-called “heartbeat” bans are categorically unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held for more than 40 years that states may not ban abortion prior to viability.
Similar laws enacted in North Dakota and Arkansas have been found unconstitutional and permanently enjoined by the U.S Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which includes Missouri.
This bill does not meet the U.S. Supreme Court’s new standard. The Supreme Court’s most recent decision on abortion rights, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, reaffirmed that abortion is a constitutionally-protected right and set a new standard that abortion restrictions must meet: the benefit of a given restriction must outweigh the burden it imposes.
Whole Woman’s Health reaffirmed the more than forty years of Supreme Court precedent holding that abortion is a constitutional right and that a law is unconstitutional if it places an undue burden on the right to have an abortion before viability.
Under Whole Woman’s Health, courts must apply heightened scrutiny to abortion restrictions. Courts cannot give “uncritical deference” to the facts supporting the government’s position; courts must actually consider whether credible evidence supports the legislative fact-finding and other evidence presented by the state.
Pregnant people deserve medically accurate information about all of their options.
Information should support a pregnant person, help them make a decision for themselves, and enable them to take care of their health and well-being — not be used to coerce, shame, or get them to change their minds.
Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision between a pregnant person, their doctor, their family and their faith — not politicians.
Instead of pushing unconstitutional bills, lawmakers should focus on measures to improve Missourians’ health.
Legislators should work together to pass common-sense policies to improve Missourians’ health, like comprehensive and medically accurate sex education, increased access to contraception, and Medicaid expansion.
Passing unconstitutional bills that will cost the state money to defend in court is a poor use of taxpayers’ time and money.
No matter what happens in Jefferson City, Missourians can count on Planned Parenthood for high-quality, affordable health care. These doors stay open — no matter what.