A ban on abortions after twenty weeks drew support and criticism on a hearing Tuesday night.
The proposed bill, one of more than bills related to abortion this session, prohibits an abortion after twenty weeks. Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, the bill’s sponsor, chose this cutoff period because that is when the fetus can feel pain.
Lichtenegger cited Missouri’s current laws, stating that performing an abortion after the fetus can feel pain is equivalent to assault.
“The 8th circuit court of appeals has just ruled that an unborn child is a person, so this would obviously mean that, this is a person and we are not to assault them,” Lichtenegger said.
Rep. Cora Faith Walker, D-Ferguson, questioned Lichtenegger on the bill, stating that legal viability, the current cutoff for abortions under Missouri law, is not about pain.
“What my question is, and maybe you can have someone who can come and testify about whether or not the presence of pain or the ability to feel pain equates to viability because I’m not seeing any sort of research that suggests that,” Walker said.
12 witnesses spoke at the hearing about the bill. Six were in favor, six in opposition. Those in favor of the bill included a constitutional attorney who spoke on the legality of the proposed bill, citing other states that already have passed 20-week bans.
Among those who spoke in opposition were two women who received abortions past the 20-week mark due to the health of the fetus.
The bill’s hearing came just one day after the US Senate failed to pass its own 20-week abortion ban.