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Abortion Laws in Missouri

Abortion is, simply put, a controversial topic. To make it more complicated, every state has different abortion laws. What’s legal in Missouri? You have a right to know to ensure you are making an informed decision and understanding all pregnancy decision options. Here’s a breakdown of Missouri’s abortion laws, from the legal definition of abortion to the necessary requirements any abortion provider must have.

Abortion Defined

Missouri Law outlines abortion as:

  1. The act of using or prescribing any instrument, device, medicine, drug, or any other means or substance with the intent to destroy the life of an embryo or fetus in his or her mother’s womb; or
  2. The intentional termination of the pregnancy of a mother by using or prescribing any instrument, device, medicine, drug, or other means or substance with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth or to remove a dead or dying unborn child.

Basically, any successful or attempted use of any means to end the life of an unborn baby.

When is abortion illegal?

An abortion is illegal if…

  • the procedure happens after 21 weeks and 6 days from the conception date, unless the mother’s life or health is threatened.
  • it fails to follow statutory regulations, as required for both patients and clinics.
  • it’s done to provide fetal organs/tissue for transplant or other purposes.
  • public facilities, employees or funds for abortion are used, unless it’s necessary to save mother’s life.
  • the baby is aborted alive (also known as partial birth abortion).
  • a provider performs the abortion without a physician’s license and surgical privileges.

What requirements must the abortion provider meet?

Abortions can only be provided:

  • By a licensed MD.
  • In a hospital, if after 16 weeks.
  • Only after the licensed MD has used ordinary skill and testing to determine that the fetus is viable, or able to live outside the womb, if after 20 weeks.
  • Only after the licensed MD has used medical methods to determine that the abortion is necessary, if after viability (21 weeks and 6 days).
  • With a second MD in attendance to aid the fetus.

What are my patient rights?

An abortion provider must provide patients:

  • A written description of the abortion procedure she would receive, including pictures of unborn babies at every two weeks of fetal development.
  • Information on alternatives to abortion.
  • A 72 hour waiting period between giving her the above information and performing the abortion.
  • A view of the ultrasound screen before and during the abortion, if she wants to see her baby.
  • Documents for her to sign showing her prior, informed, written consent of the abortion.

What if I’m a minor?

A parent or legal guardian must be present with a minor on the abortion procedure day. The patient must also have informed, written consent of one parent/guardian or a court order if she is less than 17 and unemancipated.

Does the father of the baby have any say?

The father of the baby does not have any rights in the decision to have an abortion. His permission is not required to have an abortion, and no one can legally force a woman to have an abortion. Ultimately, it is the woman’s decision.

What if I change my mind?

  • If a woman takes the abortion pill (known as Mifepristone, RU-486, or Mifeprex) and regrets the decision, there could be time to reverse the effects of the pill. She would need to take action quickly and before taking the second dose. She should immediately call the Abortion Pill Reversal Hotline at 1-877-558-0333 and talk with their nurses.
  • Missouri is a Safe Haven state. This means a woman can anonymously leave a baby in the care of a hospital, EMT, fire or police station, maternity home, or pregnancy resource center within the first 45 days after birth. No questions asked. Read our post on Safe Havens for more info.
  • If at any point before the abortion a woman changes her mind, she has every right to tell the staff of the abortion provider that she does not want to continue.

Need someone to talk to?

A decision regarding an unexpected pregnancy can seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic offers options education, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, post-abortion support and more at no cost to you. Whatever your situation, our trained registered nurses and staff are more than happy to listen, free of judgment. The decision is ultimately yours. We’re here to provide you with all the information you need. Call or click below to schedule your confidential, no-cost appointment.