Missouri is set to become the third state in the country to impose a 72-hour waiting period on women seeking an abortion.
The state’s Republican-controlled House passed a bill Wednesday night that would make the waiting period a reality. It now waits for action from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The Associated Press reports it is unclear if he will sign it.
Nixon said Tuesday we would review the legislation and decide in a manner consistent with his previous actions. The bill will become law whether Nixon signs it or not. He can, however, veto the bill but that action would likely be overridden by the House which passed the bill with a 111-39 vote. The bill passed the Senate with a 22-9 vote, just one vote shy of the number needed to override a veto.
Nixon has allowed a number of abortion-related bills to become law without his signature.
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"I've had pretty consistent positions on this. I think everyone knows, obviously, which way I lean on it," Nixon said, according to USA Today.
Supporters of the bill argue that women need the opportunity to process all of the information given to them by a doctor prior to an abortion. They say the waiting period will give them that necessary time. The bill would also require that women are given the opportunity to hear the fetus’ heartbeat on an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure.
"Life is precious. I want to make sure the unborn child has a chance to survive," said Republican Sen. David Sater during debate on the legislation.
The state’s only clinic that performs elective abortions is located in St. Louis. Opponents to the legislation say the waiting period places undue burdens on poor women who would have to travel to get to the city. They argue the women would have to spend extra money on lodging and meals waiting for the 72 hours to elapse.
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"I think the 72 hours is way too long,” said Madi Mauck, who was at the Capitol on Monday to protest the bill.
"Making them wait longer is an emotional and financial burden,” she said.
Utah and South Dakota are the only other states with a similar waiting period. South Dakota’s law went into effect in 2013 and Utah began enforcing the rule in 2012.