By Dave Andrusko
Last week we wrote about the decision by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to veto HB 1307, a bill with overwhelming legislative support. HB 1307 extends the current 24-hour reflection period to 72 hours after an ultrasound and alternatives to abortion information has been offered to her before a woman has an abortion.
For reasons of his own, Nixon had allowed three previous pro-life measures to become law without his signature. Some may have thought he might do the same for HB 1307 which passed both houses of the state legislature by large margins.
Nixon not only chose to veto the bill, he doubled-down in his veto message.
“Lengthening the already extensive waiting period,” he wrote, “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 to make. …This is insulting to women….”
Neither part of that statement is even marginally true, but it won Nixon plaudits from the pro-abortion-across-the-board editorial page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His veto, the editorial concluded, was “startling in its boldness.”
Of course, if the editorial page was on the opposite side of an issue (that is, if Nixon vetoed something they approved of), they would not begin the final paragraph by saying, “The Legislature in September’s veto session no doubt will add further insult by trying to override the veto.” That’s the way the legislative system works: Nixon gets to veto, the legislature can override if it has overwhelming support (2/3rds or more). One could argue that the “insult” is Nixon’s in that the legislature overwhelmingly supported HB 1307.
The bill passed the House 111-39 and Senate 22-9. To be specific the General Assembly would need 109 votes in the House and 23 in the Senate to overcome Nixon’s veto. Obviously, the margin is razor-thin—and the override vote will not take place until this September.
Two quick concluding thoughts. First, what does it say about an editorial page that the best it can muster is that the legislation reflects another “men-know-best restriction” and that they (presumably the men) should follow Nixon’s lead and “Butt out of decisions that are very much not their business”? Not much, I would argue.
Second, Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life, said her organization was “profoundly disappointed” in the governor’s veto. Fichter summarized the motivation behind the legislation when she told NRL News Today
“This extra time will allow a woman to reflect on all her options before deciding to go forward with an abortion. Governor Nixon has vetoed a bill that would save babies and protect women from abortion clinics seeking to make a profit on an abortion.
“Abortion is a life-changing procedure. It ends the life of an unborn baby; a decision that can never be undone. The procedure can also be harmful to the mother. In making this decision, women need time to review all the medical information and the alternatives available. This bill provides that.”