Missouri Republicans Push 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period



Missouri legislators tomorrow will consider whether to impose a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, one of the longest in the country. The state's Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, vetoed the proposal after it initially passed the legislature in May, but Republicans in the statehouse think they have the votes to overrule Gov. Nixon's veto. 

If they're correct, Missouri would join South Dakota and Utah as one of three states with a required 72-hour waiting period. Utah's law grants an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, which the Missouri bill would not.

"Our intent is to make sure that a women has the opportunity to really think through what she's about to do and how it will affect her health, as well as the life of her baby," Susan Klein, a lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life, told AP

Maybe Klein really means that, but it's an incredibly absurd way to look at things. The logic behind these waiting-period laws is that, without the state requiring it, women will just see that plus sign on the pee stick, bop on over to the abortion clinic, and down some mifepristone without a second thought.

In practical terms, this is likely impossible—abortion clinics, like other doctors' offices, generally require appointments. A woman who wants to terminate her pregnancy will already have to wait some period of time between scheduling an appointment and actually having an abortion (and this time is only likely to increase as the number of abortion clinics across the country dwindles). But the more important fact of the matter is that women aren't children. They're perfectly capable of considering important reproductive matters on their own accord, in their own timeframe.

Surely many women spend ample time agonizing over the decision to abort before actually calling a clinic. For others, it isn't a difficult decision at all. In either case, what incredible arrogance and paternalism to suggest that without the good hand of government to guide them, these women aren't capable of fully considering their choices and actions.  

In effect, waiting-period rules like the one Missouri Republicans are pushing just make it logistically harder for women to exercise their right to an abortion. Yesterday I wrote about a Pennsylvania woman who ordered the abortion pill illegally online because the nearest clinic was more than 70 miles away. Some on social media scoffed at the idea that 70 miles was too far to travel—but because of mandatory waiting periods and other bureaucratic nonsense, what could be a one- or two-visit procedure actually requires three or four separate visits. 

This is why it's such bullshit when anti-abortion types talk about how it's just an extra day or two wait; it's just a requirement that only a physician can physically hand a woman the abortion pill; it's just one or two clinics that will close down due to hospitals refusing admitting-privileges to abortion doctors… Taken individually, none of the restrictions may seem that nefarious. But these restrictions don't exist in a vacuum. And the cumulative effect is absolutely to create a climate where the time and capital required to terminate a pregnancy becomes prohibitive for large numbers of women. 

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  1. And the cumulative effect is absolutely to create a climate where the time and capital required to terminate a pregnancy becomes prohibitive for large numbers of women.

    So it “being a right” means that it must also be cheap and easy? You are pregnant for nine months. There are still over a million abortions a year. These things don’t seem to be deterring much.

    1. So it “being a right” means that it must also be cheap and easy?

      Apply this line of argument to gun control.

      1. The mere act of possessing a gun does not kill a living human being.

        1. You’re begging the question, but that wasn’t even John’s argument.

          1. There’s a dispute over whether a fetus is alive?

            There’s a dispute over whether a fetus is human?

            John’s argument makes sense once we realize that abortion is a positive-law “right” created by the Supreme Court, not a natural-law right existing by the nature of things. The Court constantly reassures us that the abortion right is subject to certain limitations. When you’re making up a positive-law right, you get to do that.

            1. Once again, you’re begging the question. There obviously is a dispute over when a clump of cells becomes human.

              1. There’s also a dispute over whether abortion is a positive-law right or a natural-law right.

                  1. So tell me, ENB, when is a fetus entitled to rights? Is it when it is born? Is it when it is arbitrarily deemed to have rights by 9 black-robed sages?

                    Sorry but your tut-tutting about extremists makes no sense to me until you are willing to give that line. Because until you can explain why the “extremist right wing” is wrong about the rights of a fetus, their decisions to protect it aren’t actually extreme at all. They are consistent.

      2. You mean like passing a law imposing a “waiting period” to buy a gun using a bunch of blatant nonsense where it’s obvious that the only reason for the law is to harass people who want to exercise their rights, in the hope that by making it as inconvenient as possible people will choose not to exercise those rights?

        1. There’s a difference between imposing restrictions to harass and imposing restrictions in order to promote a change of heart. No one is going to say after a three day waiting period you know what screw it that gun was an impulse buy. The hope is that a few mothers might say you know what this baby was a consequence of sex I would have preferred to have avoided but it is a life and hacking it to death is wrong.

    2. Uh, yes, if cheap and easy refers to an absence of government roadblocks.

      “So it ‘being a right’ to start a business means we can’t make you fill out paperwork, acquire certificates and pay fees? It must be cheap and easy? There are still millions of businesses started every year.” etc.

  2. “In effect, waiting-period rules like the one Missouri Republicans are pushing just make it logistically harder for women to exercise their right to an abortion.”

    And this is bad because…

    “And the cumulative effect is absolutely to create a climate where the time and capital required to terminate a pregnancy becomes prohibitive for large numbers of women.”

    And this is bad because…

    1. Because of “4th trimester” abortions. Why do you want dead babies in dumpsters?

      1. It’s those 55th trimester abortions you’ve got to worry about.

    2. And this is bad because…

      Because millions of women don’t believe anything like what you believe and would prefer not to have their lives ruined over an irresolvable dispute.

      1. Yeah people disagree about whether or not this or that person is alive and entitled to rights. Let’s not try to protect those rights if people can’t dispute it.

        1. Er, Let’s not try to protect rights if people might dispute that they exist.

          1. Well, go ahead and try, as people do. And those who disagree will try to stop you. It’s pretty simple.

            1. What a dizzying intellect you have.

              Someone: I don’t see why that is bad
              Nikki: It’s bad because the morality is disputed
              Me: So it is bad to pass laws on subjects of morality in dispute?
              Nikki: Go ahead and try, but people won’t agree.

  3. These theists likely believe that 72 hours is ample time for the feminine conscience to become pregnant with guilt therefore resulting in a possible ‘change of heart’.

    1. Doris Gordon writing as a “libertarian atheist” –


      You don’t have to believe in God to believe in human rights, including the rights of the unborn.

      If atheism equated to opposing the human rights of the unborn, I would cite this as an argument *against atheism.* But I can’t honesty do this – as Gordon’s essay shows, there are prolife atheists.

      1. I’m so puzzled by your need to constantly assert and reassert your opinion about abortion here, as if there is anyone who is unaware, or it is creating a productive discussion at all…

        1. You’re puzzled that people would discuss abortion in an abortion thread?

          1. This is a bizarre-ass comment from the writer, IMO.

        2. I am very sorry to offend you, I don’t wish to offend anyone, but can you see how your criticism, with all due respect, could be applied to your numerous abortion articles?

          I have no wish to alienate any of the Reason staff, but I was under the impression that H&R was a forum, at minimum, for debating the posted articles.

          Also, not everyone reads all the articles or H&R threads.

          Also, I’m discussing different aspects of the issue on each post.

          1. You don’t offend me, and I didn’t mean to imply that this isn’t a free forum for debating stuff. I just feel like you make the same comments multiple times in the same thread, and keep pushing even when other commenters seem unconvinced, which …. seems a lot closer to trolling than actually just trying to have your say about this.

            1. In a world where there’s Reasonable and other blocking technologies, unconvinced people can always scroll past my comments or even see a blank space in lieu thereof.

              If you’re not offended, let me press further, and ask why you post numerous abortion articles, though there’s no doubt any more about what you believe on the subject?

              1. Because part of my job is reporting on things in the news, especially when they concern (what I see as) government overreach, and there is always new news about government overreach on abortion.

                1. OK, but Reason was kind enough to provide a forum for those who disagree, including those who disagree with your very premises.

                  And I flatter myself that I present different angles of the prolife perspective on different occasions – eg, I think this is the first time I posted Doris Gordon’s article written as a prolife atheist. And I was replying to someone who seemed to think that God-believers had a monopoly on prolife thought.

                  1. I wasn’t trying to get you to stop posting or anything. I was just genuinely wondering whether you were just a troll who liked to pick fights or you actually felt like you had some sort of purpose in making these comments. And you clearly do, and I respect that.

                    1. I’ve called myself a troll in the past, in the sense that I like to stir discussion. Now, that being said, I like to think that I bring up original and useful points from time to time, but that’s not for me to judge.

                  2. Now, If I were 100% honest with myself, I’d say that I haven’t been doing much prolife work of late, and it’s been a while since I picketed my local Planned Parenthood, so I try to pick up the slack by at least presenting the prolife case on Reason’s forums.

                  3. Elizabeth, it is really quite beneath you to engage him. He’s someone who wants the government to have the ability to enslave or kill a woman to keep her from having an abortion, no matter the circumstances under which she became pregnant. He’s a loon that would burn down all of the real to protect a hypothetical.

                    1. Thank you for your contribution!

                    2. No, SF, he’s got a point about why she went after him personally in the comment section. She’s worn her opinions on her sleeve, let him do the same in the free, registered comments.

                      Don’t tell her it’s beneath her — it obviously isn’t.

                      Bad form on the writer’s part, IMO.

        3. Oh god. ENB I’ve never had an abortion conversation that I would consider productive.

          1. Also if your gunning for the mythical 1000 commented article your doing it right.

            1. No, if you want 1000 comments, try a list of millenials that should have been aborted.

          2. “Oh god. ENB I’ve never had an abortion conversation that I would consider productive.”


        4. Does your state have a 72 hour self-awareness waiting period? You are ghoulishly obsessed with abortion rights. Southern and Mid-Western states are going to keep passing pro-life legislation. If anything your constantly whining just encourages them. So why do you keep harping about it if Chesterton’s comments bother you so much. I wouldn’t expect you to follow the golden rule that’s so Christiany and fascist, but don’t libertarians have some secular/ sci-fi equivalent. Neither your nor GKC’s opinion on abortion is unclear. He believes babies shouldn’t be hacked apart you want to make sure you never have an accident mess up swim suit season.

  4. The federal courts are very particular about the kinds of abortion restrictions they are willing to uphold. And, conveniently, when prolifers draft laws with a chance of being upheld by federal courts, the choicers find ways to criticize each and every such law.

    1. It might have something to do with not taking one’s sense of morality from the federal courts.

      1. We don’t – but we try to draft laws the federal courts will accept, as opposed to laws that will be promptly struck down and do no good.

        Ultimately, I would like to see the federal courts acknowledge not only that there is no “right” to abortion, but that legalized abortion is itself unconstitutional.

        But never fear – that is unlikely, since even Justice Scalia frames the issue as one of federalism, not a constitutional right to life.

        1. My point was that neither side derives their sense of morality from what the federal courts say, hence it makes perfect sense to criticize a law even if the courts uphold it.

          1. Of course, I was talking about the prolife legislative strategy. They don’t want to pass laws which the courts will immediately block.

            There’s an all-or-nothing bloc among the prolifers, and I expect the choicers will “respect” them for their habit of constantly losing nobly, but the mainstream of the prolife movement want to protect at least *some* of the unborn under existing circumstances in the world we actually live in.

    2. And, conveniently, when prolifers draft laws with a chance of being upheld by federal courts, the choicers find ways to criticize each and every such law.

      “Conveniently”? Yes, conveniently, we disagree with you when you do things we disagree with. Why wouldn’t we?

      1. Shut up, broodmare. Women have no place in the abortion debate.

        1. I know right delicate females have to be protected from consequences . Just like they have to be protected from the sun, and piano legs in Victorian times, and mud getting splattered from passing carriages.

  5. A three day waiting period to buy a gun is dandy, but a three day waiting period to hire someone to murder your unborn child tramples on womens’ rights!


    1. Where are the people around here asserting that a three-day waiting period to buy a gun is dandy?

      1. it wouldn’t kill anyone to wait.

  6. Cue the conservative Peanut Gallery’s rush to defend the Aborto-Freak police state to deprive a woman of reproductive autonomy.

    1. Your depth of thought never fails to disappoint.

  7. the more important fact of the matter is that women aren’t children

    …except for the teenage women who are, in fact, legally children according to law.

    the cumulative effect is absolutely to create a climate where the time and capital required to terminate a pregnancy becomes prohibitive for large numbers of women.

    Yes, that is the idea. You might get more rational regimes from the various states if you left abortion up to them, as it was prior to Roe v Wade. You’d still have NY and CA running abortion mills, and plenty of other states as well — but in allowing for states to make their own decisions about the morality of the practice, you will see more targeted laws if that’s what you want.

  8. And they say the slippery slope is a fallacy.

    1. You’re a fallacy.

      1. Yo momma is so fallacy, she failed rhetoric class!

  9. Even if I think the law is misguided, am I still allowed to enjoy the salty ham tears of the left as they watch their own bullshit tactics used against them?

    1. No because the author really like abortion so the left has to win this time. It’s weird I know.

  10. The best way to end bullshit like this is to advocate for the simple overturning of Roe v. Wade. States can’t restrict movement to/from other states and they can’t punish crimes committed in other jurisdictions.

    So pro-lifers can outright ban abortion in states where they have a majority, and residents of those states can get abortions in neighboring states that allow abortion.

    The whole idea behind federalism is that not everybody agrees about the role of government, and so accordingly people should be free to choose what government reigns over them as much as they should be free to have a say in that same government.

  11. I propose a 9-month waiting period.

    1. I second that.

  12. I think it’s a great idea to let a woman think a little bit before she murders her baby & will regret it for 72 years & a vale of tears.

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