MO Statehouse/Late-term abortions
1:14 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Nixon will let late-term abortion restrictions take effect without signature

Updated 2:05 p.m. with comment from Nixon.

Updated 4:19 p.m. with comment from Planned Parenthood and Rep. Tim Jones.

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon says he will let a controversial measure that puts further restrictions on abortions performed after 20 weeks become law without his signature.

The state already bans late-term abortions unless the life or health of the mother is in danger. That includes mental health.

The measure that will become law at midnight tonight allows late-term abortions only to save the mother from serious physical impairment or death, or if the fetus is not viable.

“This legislation was approved by an overwhelming, bi-partisan majority in both houses,” Nixon said in a statement. “Although people have differing views on this issue, it’s important that we work together to provide accurate health information, promote personal responsibility, protect women’s health, and improve foster care, adoption and child protection services.”

Planned Parenthood officials in St. Louis say they’re disappointed with the governor’s decision.

Paula Gianino is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri and says the law will affect women whose pregnancies are in crisis.

“These are wanted pregnancies that have gone wrong, and women deserve to know that their physicians can act fully and freely within the law without any confusion, without any hesitancy,” Gianino said.

Gianino says lawmakers should have focused on prevention and family planning instead of further restricting abortion.

The sponsor of the House version, GOP Floor Leader Tim Jones, is happy the bill is becoming law, but says he's disappointed the governor didn't actually sign it. 

"The governor might be trying to walk the tightrope here and play both sides," Jones said. "If I was on the other side of the issue, I would be angered at this governor, because he has chosen to not take a side."