This comes as lawmakers across the country fight to protect women’s health and rights
New York, NY — Planned Parenthood Action Fund applauded Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for his veto of an extreme bill that would have would tripled the state’s existing mandatory waiting period for a woman seeking a safe and legal abortion to 72 hours, despite the fact that at Planned Parenthood, Missouri women already receive support, counseling, and information and are required by law to wait at least 24 hours and make two health center visits before having an abortion. Calling the law “harmful to women’s health,” in his veto letter, Nixon writes: “[This laws] serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women... 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, particularly in light of what the law already requires.” Nixon’s veto came after months of overwhelming opposition from Missourians across the state, including a 72-hour “Women’s Filibuster” protest on the steps of the Missouri Capitol that captured national attention.
“This bill was extreme and dangerous, and it would have interfered with personal medical decisions that women must be able to make with their doctors. Politicians in Missouri pushed this bill through in the dead of night, over the objections of the people they’re supposed to represent, and we’re grateful that Governor Nixon vetoed it,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Missourians of all stripes spoke out against this bill and refused to back down, from the women who camped out for three days and nights at the State Capitol to thousands of people who used Twitter to hold politicians accountable for trying to take away a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions. This extreme bill should never have passed in the first place, and that’s why we have to elect leaders who will protect women’s health and rights.”
In recent years, politicians have waged an unprecedented assault on women’s access to reproductive health care at the state level. Against this surge of restrictions, women’s health champions are working harder than ever to defeat this dangerous legislation and pass policies that protect or expand access to reproductive health care. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 70 provisions have been introduced in 2014 that would expand or protect access to safe and legal abortion — that’s compared to 35 such provisions this time last year, and more proactive provisions than have ever been introduced in a single year for two-and-a-half decades.
“Even as some extreme politicians in states like Missouri continue to launch these attacks on women and their access to health care, in a growing number of states we are seeing lawmakers champion measures to expand and protect access to birth control, basic preventive care, and safe, legal abortion,” Richards continued. “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. Women are watching their state legislatures — and because of that, the tide is beginning to turn in the fight to protect women’s health.”
- In California, a measure (Senate Bill 1053) that improves access to all FDA-approved forms of contraception for women passed the full Senate in May and recently moved in the House, while legislators in Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. have introduced legislation to prevent employers from discriminating against employees based on their personal, private health care decisions.
- In February, the Virginia Senate voted to repeal a harmful law that requires women to have a government-mandated ultrasound before having an abortion. Recently elected Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, who is a physician, cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the bill. Unfortunately, the measure did not advance in the House this session.
- After women’s health advocates in Vermont worked for years to repeal a criminal abortion statute that predates the Roe v. Wade decision, in 2014 legislators in Vermont were finally successful. When he signed the legislation into law in March, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said, “It’s unfortunate that other states are turning back the clock on the issue, but here in Vermont, a woman’s right to make her own health-care decisions will not be taken away.”
- Maryland lawmakers across the aisle unanimously passed legislation to strengthen privacy protections of medical information contained in insurance communications — safeguards which can be especially important for women seeking reproductive health services and victims of domestic violence.
- In March 2014, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a measure banning abortion after 20 weeks, remarking in a statement that: "I have vetoed HB 4588 because I am advised, by not only attorneys from the legislature, but through my own legal team that this bill is unconstitutional. The bill is also problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship. All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options.”
- On June 5, the South Carolina Legislature adjourned with no new abortion restrictions passed —including defeat of a harmful measure banning abortion at 20 weeks and an admitting privileges restriction that could have had devastating consequences for women’s health and safety in the state.
- In Indiana, legislators defeated targeted restrictions on abortion providers that could have severely restricted access to safe, legal abortion in the state, while in Kentucky, women’s health champions blocked passage of any new abortion restrictions, including a bill that could have banned abortion as early as six weeks.