Missouri Democratic Governor Jay Nixon has announced he will not sign or veto HB 400, a bill that would restrict access to medication abortion in the state, effectively allowing the bill to become law. HB 400 requires a doctor to be in the physical presence of a pregnant patient when she takes the first dose of RU-486, a requirement meant to ban tele-med abortions.
A previous version of the bill was amended to clarify that the doctor’s physical presence was only required on the initial dose, and that the patient could take the second medication in privacy outside of a clinic setting. Reproductive rights advocates expressed concerns that the original wording could cause those undergoing a termination to have to return to the clinic in order to access the second medication.
The action on HB 400 reflects a long history of the Governor refusing to veto or sign bills that restrict reproductive health access, instead preferring to simply let them become law without any official support or objection. However, in 2012 he did veto a bill that would allow employers to refuse to offer contraception coverage in their employees’ insurance plan. That veto was overridden, but the courts blocked the bill from being implemented.
HB 400 will go into effect on August 28th.