JEFFERSON CITY, MO, May 15, 2014 ( — A bipartisan group of legislators has sent a bill requiring a 72-hour waiting period for abortions to the desk of Missouri governor Jay Nixon.

Missouri has had a 24-hour waiting period since 2003. The current bill changes little in state law except to triple the waiting period, designed to give women additional time to reflect upon their decision.

In an agreement that saw Republicans avoid a filibuster in exchange for not pursuing legislation concerning labor unions and a bill requiring voter ID, the state's 24-hour waiting period extended. The bill does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, though it provides for faster abortion access if a medical doctor deems the situation as an emergency.


The bill passed by a veto-proof majority.

Missouri Right to Life President Pam Fichter said that her organization “is thrilled with the passage of this legislation and worked hard to attain it.”

Fichter said that Nixon “may do three things. He may sign a bill, veto a bill, or ignore a bill and it will automatically become law after a certain time.”

Nixon, an outspoken proponent of abortion, expressed concern about the waiting period bill. However, he has let a number of pro-life provisions become law without his signature since taking office.

“Because we have a veto proof, bipartisan pro-life majority in both houses, the governor is very reluctant to veto a pro-life bill,” Fichter said. “We are confident that our…bipartisan majority in both chambers will work to ensure that this law goes into effect.”

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Several pro-life bills have become law since Nixon became governor. These include a ban on abortions after 20 weeks in 2010, and a ban on webcam abortions. Rather than sign them, Nixon let them become law by choosing not to act.

Additionally, Fichter said, Nixon “has allowed increased funding for Alternative to Abortion programs and the retention of tax credits for donations to crisis pregnancy centers.”

However, the governor vetoed “a religious liberty bill” in 2012; that veto was overturned.

If the new bill takes effect, Missouri will join North Dakota and Utah in having the nation's longest waiting periods. However, differences exist between the three states. South Dakota does not count weekends and holidays as part of the 72-hour period, and Utah has exceptions to the waiting period if a woman is impregnated as a result of incest or rape, or if she is younger than 14.