Missouri abortion ban: Senate passes bill outlawing abortions after eight weeks even in cases of rape and incest

State latest in US to approve tight restrictions on women seeking to terminate their pregnancy

Missouri senate passes bill to restrict abortion: Gov Mike Parson 'The unborn deserves a up-or-down vote'

Missouri’s Republican-led senate has passed a bill to effectively ban abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest.

Senators approved the legislation by 24 votes to 10 in the early hours of Thursday morning, just hours before a Friday deadline to pass bills.

It will require another vote of approval in the state’s GOP-led house, before it can be signed off by Republican governor, Mike Parson, who has already announced he supports the measures.

If passed, the bill will see Missouri introduce some of the most stringent laws on abortion in the US, allowing terminations only in cases of medical emergency.

Women would no longer be able to seek an abortion legally in the state if they had fallen pregnant through rape or incest.

Senate Democrats had launched into an attack on the bill on Wednesday before Republican supporters had a chance to bring it up for debate on the Senate floor.

“So much of this bill is just shaming women into some kind of complacency that says we are vessels of pregnancy rather than understanding that women's lives all hold different stories,” St. Louis-area Democratic senator Jill Schupp told colleagues.

“We cannot paint with a broad brush and interfere by putting a law forward that tells them what they can and cannot do.”

The Missouri bill comes as a number of states across the US have taken steps to place tough new restrictions on the procedure.

Abortion opponents the hope this will lead to the now conservative-leaning US Supreme Court overturning its landmark Roe v Wade ruling from 1973, which legalised abortion in America.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have all approved so called “heartbeat bills” in recent weeks, which prevent abortion once a foetal heartbeat is detected, often around six weeks into a pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed a near-total ban on abortion into law on Wednesday.

If courts don't allow Missouri’s proposed eight-week ban to take effect, it includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits ranging from 14 to 20 weeks.

Roe v Wade legalised abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

“This is not a piece of legislation that is designed for a challenge,” Missouri’s Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr said. “This is the type of legislation that is designed to withstand a challenge and to actually save lives in our state.”

Other provisions in the wide-ranging abortion bill include a ban on abortions based on race, sex or a “prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome.”

The bill would also require that both parents be notified for a minor to get an abortion, with exceptions. Current law requires written consent from only one parent.

Additional reporting by AP

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