Some Missouri GOP lawmakers are renewing the push to allow homicide charges against women who receive abortions in proposals that would go beyond any state’s pro-life laws currently on the books.
Republicans in both the state House and Senate have introduced bills to be considered in the legislative session, which begins next month, that would apply homicide laws to women who receive an abortion on behalf of a victim who is an “unborn child at every stage of development.”
The proposals would offer exceptions if the woman terminates a pregnancy after being coerced or threatened, or if a physician provides an abortion to save the life of the woman.
“To me, it’s just about protecting a baby’s life like we do every other person’s life,” said GOP state Rep. Bob Titus, who is sponsoring one of the measures. “The prosecution is just a consequence of taking an innocent human life.”
Titus said no charges would be necessary as long as people follow the state law already on the books that bans abortions at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions to save the mother’s life or to prevent serious risk to the mother’s physical health.
Missouri is one of 14 states with bans in effect on abortions at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions.
Titus said he has not spoken with legislative leaders about the bill and that he did not base it on any model legislation. But the bill is similar to one introduced by Republican state Sen. Mike Moon.
The bills to tighten existing abortion laws come as two groups are attempting to have measures put on ballots in Missouri in 2024 to legalize abortion in more cases. One would allow abortion access during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy while the other, which is proposed by moderate Republicans, would scale back restrictions to a lesser extent.
Abortion-related measures could be decided by voters in several states in next year’s elections. Since last year, voters have sided with abortion access in the seven states where the questions were on the ballot.
Since the Supreme Court last year overturned the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade that had guaranteed the right to an abortion, most Republican-controlled states have adopted bans or restrictions on the procedure and most Democrat-controlled states have taken steps to protect a woman’s access.
Prominent pro-life groups have generally opposed measures that would allow women to face charges for having an abortion.
But identical legislation to allow women to be charged for having an abortion was introduced earlier this year in Missouri and similar bills were introduced in other states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina, although none were advanced by a legislative committee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.