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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, March 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Missouri House of Representatives has voted to enact a new late-term abortion ban.

The state House on Thursday passed the measure, sponsored by Rep. Timothy Jones (R-Eureka), which prohibits abortion for viable unborn children 20 weeks or older.

The bill has exceptions for the physical life of the mother and in cases of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. Nonetheless, even in such cases the measure still requires an abortionist to make efforts to end the pregnancy in a way that maximizes the unborn child’s chances of survival. If the abortionist cannot do this, because the risks to the mother are too great, then he has to detail his reasons in an individual report to the state board of healing arts.

The doctor will also need a second concurring opinion from an independent physician with no “legal or financial affiliation or relationship” in order to perform the abortion on a viable baby. And finally, the abortionist will have to have another physician present when he induces the woman to end the pregnancy, who can then immediately take steps to try to save the viable unborn child born from the abortion.

The House voted 119-38 to approve the measure. Now the Senate will have to act on SB 65, companion legislation sponsored by Sen. Robert Mayer (R-Dexter), before it can go to the governor for signing.

Abortionists who deliberately violate the law could face a felony charge carrying between one to seven years in prison, and incur fines between $10,000 and $50,000. Both abortionists and hospitals violating the law could lose their licenses to practice medicine or operate.

The law further makes explicit that legislators are not “creating or recognizing a right to abortion” by making a ban on late-term abortions.

“Unborn children are the most vulnerable members of the human family and cannot speak for themselves. Our shared humanity compels us to protect the most vulnerable among us, and we are grateful to Rep. Jones and all the Democrats and Republicans who supported this legislation,” said Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life.

Although the issue of fetal pain was not specified in the legislation, Ficter noted that the cut-off line of 20 weeks mirrors the line delineated by other late-term abortion bans in other states that are based on medical evidence that an unborn child feels excruciating pain in a late-term abortion.

“While abortion at any stage of development is an offense against human dignity, certainly we can all agree that subjecting unborn children to the horrible pain of abortion is unacceptable in a civilized society,” said Fichter.

An abortion ban based on fetal pain was successfully enacted in Nebraska and went into effect in 2010. Currently legislatures in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Minnesota are also debating measures to limit abortion to 20 weeks based on the concept of fetal pain.

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