JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers are mulling increasing the amount of time women must wait to have an abortion after seeing a doctor from 24 hours to 72 hours.
A Missouri House committee held a hearing on the legislation on Wednesday, the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal.
Supporters of the measure told Health Care Policy Committee members that 24 hours isn't enough time for a woman to make such an important decision.
One of the measure's sponsors — Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla — said procedures, such as abortion, require more consideration than just one day and changing the waiting period allows a woman to more thoroughly think about what a doctor says.
Utah and South Dakota both have a 72-hour waiting period.
Dina van der Zalm, an MU master's degree student, opposed extending the waiting period and said she had hoped she would not mark the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision by defending abortion rights.
"This seeks to push a woman further into her pregnancy and add additional logistical barriers," she said. "It is an abuse of legislative power."
Missouri's law requires doctors to provide a woman with relevant medical information before the waiting period. It also requires them to provide the opportunity for women to view an ultrasound of the fetus where the heartbeat can be heard, if it's audible. Women with medical emergencies are exempt from the law's requirements.
The committee also considered legislation that would require both parents to be notified if a child is planning to have an abortion. Current law requires one parent to consent to the abortion. The bill would require the consenting parent to give the other parent written notification of their child's abortion five days before the procedure can occur.
The bill would affect divorced parents, but notification would not need to occur if the nonconsenting parent was convicted of sexual abuse or had parental rights terminated by a court.
A provisional figure from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows there were 9,027 abortions performed on Missouri residents in 2012. State figures show the number of abortions for Missourians has declined each year since 2008.
The committee did not vote on the proposals Wednesday and offered no timetable for future action.