Missouri's governor on Friday signed into law a strict anti-abortion bill that prohibits abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy.
Gov. Mike Parson's signature makes Missouri the latest state to pass such legislation in the hopes that the Supreme Court's conservative justices will reconsider Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the United States.
'By signing this bill today, we are sending a strong signal to the nation that, in Missouri, we stand for life, protect women's health, and advocate for the unborn,' Parson said in a statement after signing the law. 'All life has value and is worth protecting.'
The law bans abortions after eight weeks -- after a heartbeat is detected -- but before many women know they are pregnant.
The legislation, known as House Bill 126, includes exceptions for what it defines as medical emergencies -- such as cases when a mother's life is at risk or she is facing serious permanent injury -- but not for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest. It includes a provision that would ban abortion outright if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri called Parson's signing of the bill a 'horrific blow' to health care in the state and promised to 'explore all options' to stop the law from going into effect August 28.
'With Governor Parson's decision to sign HB 126, he joins the other out of touch Republican leaders who fail to protect the right to an abortion even in cases of rape and incest,' Sara Baker, the ACLU of Missouri's legislative and policy director, said in a statement.
'This legislation puts politicians in the exam room and challenges the basic autonomy of Missourians,' she added. 'It is unconstitutional, and it must be stopped.'
GOP lawmakers who voted for the bill have said it bans abortions after a fetus has developed to the point it can feel pain.
Asked about the bill last week, Parson said he believed it met the standard of 'what I believe to be constitutional for our state.' He anticipated that it would withstand a court challenge, adding that he thinks Roe should be overturned.
The Missouri Legislature passed HB 126 last week, days after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion law in the country. Under the Alabama law, doctors who performed abortions could be sentenced to life in prison.
Restrictive bills have been passed in other states recently, including Georgia and Mississippi.