UPDATE: Missouri Senate debates longer wait for abortions

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 | 5:32 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri senators started debate Wednesday about legislation that would require women seeking an abortion to wait longer after seeing a doctor.

The state's informed consent law currently requires a 24-hour waiting period, and that would be extended to 72 hours under the bill. Women are provided information such as the immediate and long-term medical risks and alternatives to an abortion. Women also are given an opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the fetus.

Sponsoring Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said there is a lot of information for people to consider. He said 24 hours is too short a period.

The state Senate discussed the bill Wednesday and did not reach a vote before adjourning for the day. Separate legislation also has been approved by a House committee.

Critics of the proposal have said it would lead to abortions performed later in a pregnancy, which can increase risks. Missouri's only facility currently performing elective abortions is in St. Louis.

Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, said the legislation seems to assume someone seeking an abortion has not thought about it for some time.

South Dakota and Utah have a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion. Utah enacted its requirement in 2012, and South Dakota's measure took effect last year.


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