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Missouri House to vote on sweeping abortion policy Friday

After the Missouri Senate passed its version of HB126, also known as the “heartbeat bill,” the controversial anti-abortion legislation was referred back to the House of Representatives and now awaits a final vote.

After receiving approval from the House Fiscal Review Committee, the bill could see a final vote from lawmakers in the final hours of the 2019 legislative session. The session ends 6 p.m. Friday.

Republicans hold a 114-46 majority in the House, almost ensuring a victory for the party on the final day of the session.

If passed, the bill would outlaw abortion procedures after eight weeks of pregnancy and allows exceptions only in cases of medical emergencies, not rape or incest.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Alabama’s governor signed a near-total abortion ban Wednesday.

The Missouri Senate version of HB126 includes an emergency clause for the parental notification aspect of the measure, meaning it would take effect as soon as it is signed by Gov. Mike Parson. If passed, a minor seeking an abortion would need permission from one parent. The other parent would need to be notified, but there are exceptions outlined for certain scenarios, according to Rep. Nick Schroer, the original sponsor of the bill.

Parson, a Republican, reiterated his support of the bill Wednesday, indicating he will sign the bill if it is approved by lawmakers.

M’Evie Mead, the policy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, said the bill is extreme and dangerous.

“This Legislature, shame on them. They could be helping to reduce the infant and maternal mortality, and instead they’re focused on getting between Missourians and their doctors,” Mead said.

The only center in Missouri licensed to perform abortions is the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. Further restrictions to abortion access will threaten the lives of women in Missouri, Mead said.

“Stop playing politics with people’s health care, and focus on increasing access to things that prevent unintended pregnancy.”

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