Gov. Jay Nixon made national news last week, as well as praise by many and scorn by others. Nixon vetoed the “controversial” HB 1307 that extended the waiting period for a woman to have an abortion to 72 hours, even in the case of incest or rape.
Of course liberal organizations believe Nixon's veto is a victory for women’s rights, while conservative groups, more specifically the religious right, believe that this is a blow against “life.”
The major reason Nixon gave for his veto was the removal of provisions for rape and incest, not that it tripled the mandatory waiting period before having an abortion. The threat of loss of the mother’s life would have been exempt under the new law.
The major problem, at least in my eyes, is that legislators are pushing their beliefs onto a woman’s medical decision.
Attempts have been made in the past to define the beginning of a pregnancy as the end of the last menstrual period, a full two-weeks before a mature egg is produced.
Attempts have been made to redefine women’s clinics as “hospitals” with expensive retrofitting of procedure areas. Some regulations mandate that doctors who perform abortions must be connected to a hospital or that hospitals are a specific distance from a clinic.
What many do not understand is that women’s clinics provide services well beyond abortion procedures — well-woman examinations, prenatal and post-natal examinations and services, and parenthood training, not only for the mother, but for the father as well.
One of the most important activities is the distribution and administration of contraceptives, which has reduced the number of abortions more than restrictions imposed by legislators.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis, compared the purchase of an automobile to the decision to have an abortion. He argued that a woman needs more time to consider an abortion to prevent buyer’s remorse.
Yet, women have probably spent days or even weeks pondering the ramifications of the procedure prior to going to the doctor.
If the veto is overridden in a September session, it could lead to a slippery-slope for restrictions on other matters, including birth control. The Supreme Court has already permitted restrictions by private and “closely held” corporations.
My argument against such restrictions is that they are often based on religion, not science or medicine. When I visit my pharmacy on Providence Road, I watch protesters holding signs asking us to “pray” for women entering the Planned Parenthood clinic to change their minds about seeking an abortion.
Yet, not everyone, even if religious, believes an abortion is wrong, especially if incest or rape is involved. Many may want abortions to be the very last option, but an option nonetheless.
This bill came from the same legislature that wishes to make gun ownership an unalienable right. They have determined that the right to own a firearm is more important than allowing a woman to make an independent, informed decision about her health.
These are the same legislators who demand that government get out of their lives in most other circumstances. The religious right, those who make no distinction between abortion and murder, are often (but not always) the same men and women who support capital punishment.
HB 1307 needs to stay off the books in Missouri. There are enough restrictions on a woman’s health decisions. We don't need another one.
David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.com.