JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have given Missouri one of the longest abortion waiting periods in the country.
The bill would have required a 72-hour waiting period for abortions, making it the third state along with South Dakota and Utah to have such a wait. The bill was easily passed by Missouri's Republican-led House and Senate.
In 2010, 2011 and 2013, Nixon, a Democrat, has let abortion legislation go into effect without signing or vetoing it. Nixon said he could not let this bill go into law without action, as it did not carry an exception for victims of rape or incest.
Nixon wrote in his veto message that the bill is "wholly insensitive to women who find themselves in horrific circumstances, and demonstrates a callous disregard for their wellbeing. It victimizes these women by prolonging their grief and their nightmare. Consider, for example, a rape victim who is a 32-year-old happily married mother of two children. Every minute, and every hour, she is reminded of the horrific circumstance in which she finds herself, through no fault of her own. For her, mandating a longer delay is punitive, not contemplative. Rape is a crime that knows no boundaries, and awful though it is to consider, could happen to the women who sings in the church choir, or the woman who teaches your children, or even your wife. No woman should be further victimized by a government that forces her to endure even longer the horror that is the crime of rape."
Nixon used the same rationale when it came to incest victims, and said the bill would not meet his approval even if there were exceptions for rape and incest victims.
"Missouri law already mandates a waiting period of 'at least 24 hours' that includes extensive counseling and requires that consent be informed, voluntary and given freely without coercion," Nixon wrote. "Lengthening the mandate to 'at least' 72 hours serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women who have undoubtedly already spent considerable time wrestling with perhaps the most difficult decision they may ever have too make. Moreover, as with rape and incest victims, expanding the mandatory waiting period presupposes that women are unable to make up their own minds without further government intervention. This is insulting to women, particularly in the light of with the law already requires."
Supporters of the bill argued that women need more time to consider their decision and that the longer period would reduce the number of abortions. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he would seek to override the veto in September.
Abortion "is an irreversible and permanent decision, and taking the time to think about the consequences is not unreasonable or a burden," Sater said in a statement.
Opponents claimed that the bill would place undue burden on women. Missouri's only abortion provider is Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. They said the 72-hour wait would require women seeking abortions from other parts of the state to take three days off of work and pay for lodging in St. Louis to satisfy the waiting period.
The American Civil Liberties Union praised Nixon's veto.
"This bill isn't about helping women," ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman said in a statement. "This legislation is simply further intrusion by politicians into a woman's private medical decisions. Governor Nixon deserves our thanks for continuing to focus on important issues such as jobs and the economy, unlike legislators who insist on wasting time and money pursuing their own extreme political agendas. Governor Nixon's veto will help protect the health of women in Missouri."
Missouri's Legislature may have enough votes to override the veto.
In May, the state Senate passed the bill by a 22-9 margin, with voting entirely on political party lines. An override would require 23 votes; one Senate member, a Republican, was absent for the vote.
The House passed the bill by 111-39 vote. The House would need 109 votes for an override.