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Governor vetoes Mo. abortion bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have required a 72-hour wait for women seeking abortions, asserting that legislators showed a ‘‘callous disregard for women’’ by granting no exception for rape and incest victims.

Republican legislators quickly vowed to override the Democratic governor’s decision, and they may have the numbers to do so.

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The GOP-led Legislature approved the plan earlier this year only one vote shy of the supermajority needed to undo a veto.

The measure would have made Missouri just the third state nationally to require a three-day waiting period for abortions, along with South Dakota and Utah. Utah’s law includes an exception for rape and incest victims, and people younger than 14.

Nixon had allowed prior Missouri abortion restrictions to take effect, but drew a line with the longer waiting period..

‘‘This extreme and disrespectful measure would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and well-being of women,’’ Nixon said in a written statement.

Missouri law requires a minimum 24-hour wait between when a woman consults a physician and receives an abortion, with an exception only for medical emergencies.

‘I’m confident that we’ve got more than ample numbers to override the governor’s veto.’

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During debate on the bill to triple the waiting period, Republican senators defeated a Democratic amendment that would have added a rape and incest exception.

Nixon said Wednesday that the failure to include those exceptions ‘‘demonstrates a callous disregard for women who find themselves in horrific circumstances.’’

‘‘I’m confident that we’ve got more than ample numbers to override the governor’s veto,’’ said Representative Kevin Elmer, a Republican from Nixa who sponsored the legislation.

In a memo to lawmakers, Nixon wrote that the bill appears to be based on a ‘‘paternalistic presumption that rape and incest victims are somehow unable to grasp the horror that has befallen them, and that government must force them to take more time to come to grips with their plight.’’

Senator David Sater, one of the sponsors of the measure, had argued against the rape and incest exception.

He said Wednesday that Nixon was effectively placing a lower value on the life of a child conceived through rape than one conceived consensually but perhaps unintentionally.

‘‘They’re both equal in God’s eyes. Those children are both of equal importance,’’ said Sater, a Republican from Cassville.

Missouri law already requires doctors to provide a variety of written information to women wanting abortions and to give them the opportunity to hear the fetus’ heartbeat on an ultrasound.

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