Missouri Passes 72-Hour Waiting Period; The Most Restrictive Abortion Laws In America

WASHINGTON - APRIL 25: Pro-choice activists shout slogans as they take part in the March For Women's Lives April 25, 2004 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of activist demonstrated for abortion rights and opposition to the Bush Administration's policies on reproductive health issues. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Once again, women’s reproductive rights are on the chopping block. This time, it’s Missouri that has decided that the government should have a say in just how long a woman should have to wait for an abortion. Although Missouri Governor Jay Nixon planned to veto the bill that would make women wait for 72 hours as opposed to 24 hours to get an abortion, the House and Senate decided to override him Wednesday night, voting 117-44 and 23-7, respectively. Missouri is now the third state, along with Utah and South Dakota, to make women wait more than 24 hours before she can terminate her pregnancy

Even worse, according to Missouri's new law, even women whose pregnancy is the result of rape or incest will now also be forced to wait to abort the fetus of their rapist. Apparently, that's not a concern to some lawmakers. As Republican state Rep. Kevin Elmer explained to USA Today, "For me, even though that tragic situation may occur, I still believe that God is at work." (I would like Elmer to look a rape or incest victim in the eye and say such malarkey, but I digress.)

It’s been over 40 years since Roe v. Wade, yet in many states, trying to obtain safe and legal abortions is still a Herculean task. It's important to know where else abortion rights are being eroded, and exactly how. Here are five other infuriating state abortion laws you should also know about.

TEXAS, LOUISIANA, AND WISCONSIN: mandatory ULTRASOUNDs

In Texas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin the law states that before an abortion procedure can be performed, the woman must get an ultrasound, and the abortion provider is legally bound to “show and describe the image to the woman.” The thinking here, presumably, is if she is forced to look at her fetus, she won’t have the heart to terminate it. The data doesn't support it, even when viewing ultrasounds is optional. As Think Progress reports:

According to a new study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology — one of the largest research projects into ultrasounds and abortion to date — the vast majority of women who seek out abortion services have already made up their mind. Looking an images of an ultrasound doesn’t sway them.
Researchers analyzed over 15,575 visits to a large, urban abortion provider in 2011. All of the patients received an ultrasound before continuing with the abortion procedure, and all of them were given the opportunity to look at the image. Most patients chose not to look at it. Women did opt to view the ultrasound about 42 percent of the time — and among those women, about 98 percent of them went on to have an abortion anyway. 

Presently, both North Carolina and Oklahoma are also waiting for this policy to go into effect in their states. 

15 STATES: TELEMEDICINE ABORTIONS BANNED

A telemedicine abortion is one in which the provider, after a video-consultation and proof that the woman is indeed pregnant, will send the appropriate medication to a woman who lives far from an abortion clinic so she can terminate her unwanted pregnancy at home

For women who live in places where there is only one abortion clinic in the whole state (Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming), this is a great option, and helps prevent illegal and possibly harmful abortions. Unfortunately, many politicians do not agree.

Adding to the trend, Iowa just passed a law this past summer banning telemedicine abortions (although it has yet to go into effect), and North Dakota hopes to be next

20 STATES:  STATE-MANDATED COUNSELING WITHIN 24 HOURS BEFORE an ABORTION

Although Missouri, Utah, and South Dakota have upped the waiting period to 72 hours, in 26 other states, such as North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin, a woman must not only wait for 24 hours before getting an abortion, but she must also be subjected to counseling so she can learn more about her options and, of course, endure the state-directed “information designed to discourage her from having an abortion.” 

The Guttmacher Institute reports that such "information" often includes the link between breast cancer and abortion (although it isn’t proven), the "pain" to which the fetus will be subjected, and the long-term mental harm that will result from the abortion (nine years after my abortion, I’m still not feeling any of this supposed torture).

21 STATES: ABORTIONS CAN’T BE PERFORMED IN CLINICS

The best part about clinics, especially Planned Parenthood, is that you’re walking into a place where sexual health is paramount. You are surrounded by people who believe in your right, as a woman, to make decisions for your body, so judgment is pretty minimal. 

But in 21 states, like Utah, Oklahoma, and Massachusetts, for example, abortions cannot be performed in a clinic; instead, those seeking to terminate their pregnancy must go to an actual hospital — which can be an intimidating experience, to say the least. In addition to that, 46 states also allow health care providers to refuse to perform an abortion.  (Only 16 of those states limit refusal to private or religious institutions.)

37 STATES: PARENTAL CONSENT IS MANDATORY FOR MINORS

The majority of states will not allow minors to get an abortion without the consent of at least one parent, no matter how she became pregnant (rape and incest included). Connecticut, Maine, and D.C. allow minors to make their own decision regarding their abortion without any parents' consent, and five states, Hawaii and New York among them, currently have no law stipulating either way. In Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Utah, and Wyoming, notice and consent are required from both parents for someone under the age of 18. 

California, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico are waiting on policies to go into effect that will make parental consent the law. Once those are in, we're looking at just seven states where the right to choose won't involve some sort of major asterisk. 

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