Missouri Senate passes bill restricting late-term abortion

KANSAS CITY Thu Apr 7, 2011 6:58pm EDT

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KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - The Missouri Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would put further restrictions on when a woman may have a late-term abortion for health reasons.

Current state law allows abortion of a viable fetus to "preserve the life or health of the woman," but the proposed law is more stringent.

It says an abortion would not be allowed unless the mother's life is threatened by a "physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury" caused by the pregnancy.

The attending physician would have to get an agreement from a second physician that continuation of the pregnancy would endanger the mother's life.

Under the measure, fewer women will have abortions out of convenience rather than genuine health concerns, said Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council.

The abortion rights group, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, said on its website that the proposed law imposes "burdensome requirements" on abortion providers. The group's spokeswoman could not be reached for immediate comment.

The Missouri House has passed a bill similar to the one in the Senate, but the measure will require another vote before it can be sent to Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.

Nixon has not taken a public stance on the bill, a spokesman said.

While Nixon favors abortion rights, any veto of the bill could face an override in the Republican-dominated House and Senate.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)

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