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Missouri GOP-led Senate passes bill to ban abortions after eight weeks

(Reuters) – Missouri’s Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill early on Thursday that would ban abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy except in medical emergencies.

The vote came a day after Alabama’s governor signed into law a ban on abortions at any time absent a medical emergency.

The bills, along with similar measures proposed in more than a dozen other states, are the latest effort by conservatives to challenge Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1973 establishing a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

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“This comprehensive, life-affirming legislation prohibits abortions once a heartbeat has been detected, prohibits abortions when a baby is capable of feeling pain, and would outlaw abortion in Missouri upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade,” the Missouri Senate Republicans said in a statement.

Senate Democrats opposed the bill.

The Missouri Stands for the Unborn bill will go back to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for a final approval vote before it can head to Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, to be signed into law. The bill passed the Senate in a 24-10 vote, NBC News reported.

Parson has planned a news conference on Thursday afternoon in support of what he called “one of the strongest pro-life bills in the country.”

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The bill would not allow an abortion even in the case of rape or incest. It would punish doctors with a prison sentence for carrying out a banned abortion but would not punish women who seek the procedure.

Supporters of such restrictions say fetuses should be afforded rights similar to those of babies. Many supporters are Christians and say they believe God forbids most abortions. The House version of the Missouri bill says that “God is the author of life.”

Opponents of the legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union and many Democratic lawmakers, say women should not be deprived of bodily autonomy and that bans lead to an increase in women seeking riskier illegal abortions.

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The U.S. Supreme Court, now with a majority of conservative justices after U.S. President Donald Trump appointed two, could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade. That decision held that the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment provides a fundamental right to privacy that protects a woman’s right to abortion.

(This story has been refiled to refiled to fix typo in “feeling” in paragraph 4).

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)

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