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Missouri Abortion Laws

Note: Missouri has passed a law that would prohibit all abortions except in cases of a medical emergency, to be effective if the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. A decision is expected in June 2022.

Although Roe legalized abortion at the federal level, states are free to set numerous restrictions and regulations. Missouri's abortion laws require waiting periods after an initial consultation with physicians; parental consent for minors; the presence of a second M.D. in attendance; and so on. In fact, these restrictions have resulted in the closure of nearly all abortion providers in the state.

Missouri Abortion Laws

Understanding your rights and responsibilities under the law can be confusing for non-attorneys, given the way laws are written. The following chart lists the basic requirements and other legal parameters of Missouri abortion law, written in "plain English."

Statute Missouri Revised Statutes: Title XII, Section 188.010, et seq.
Statutory Definition of Abortion
  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.
Illegal
  • After 21 weeks and 6 days from date of conception (except if the woman's life or health is threatened);
  • Any procedure that fails to follow statutory regulations, as required for both patients and clinics;
  • Abortion for purpose of providing fetal organs/tissue for transplant or other purposes;
  • Use of public facilities, employees or funds for abortion, except where necessary to save mother's life;
  • Taking the life of a fetus aborted alive; or
  • Performing an abortion without physician's license and surgical privileges .

Penalty for Unlawful Abortion
  • Second degree murder to take the life of a child aborted alive (Class A felony);
  • Anyone not a physician attempting to perform an abortion or without privileges at hospital offering OB/Gyn care is guilty of Class B felony;
  • Class A misdemeanor and revocation of M.D. or health practitioner's license for committing or assisting in unlawful abortion; and
  • Failure to maintain confidentiality: misdemeanor.
Patient Requirements
  • Prior, informed, written consent of the patient; if she is less than 17 and unemancipated, informed written consent of one parent/guardian or court order;
  • Parent or legal guardian must accompany a minor on the day of the procedure; and
  • 72-hour waiting period for obtaining "informed consent" about the procedure (no exception for cases of rape or incest).
Physician Licensing Requirements
  • Licensed M.D. only;
  • After 16 weeks, must be performed in hospital;
  • After viability, licensed M.D. must certify abortion necessary including medical indicators and method to be utilized with reasoning for decision;
  • Second M.D. must be in attendance to aid fetus; and
  • At 20 weeks, M.D. required to determine whether fetus is viable , using ordinary skill and care and testing.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Missouri Abortion Laws: Related Resources

Have Concerns About Missouri's Abortion Laws? An Attorney Can Help

If you're facing an unwanted pregnancy, it can be difficult wading through the conflicting information available and determine exactly what your rights are. Although access to abortion is protected at the federal level, state laws vary widely. Get help today by reaching out to an experienced Missouri health care attorney near you.

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