House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones addresses chamber/House photo

A late-term abortion ban has been sent to Governor Nixon.

Debate on the House floor featured emotional, at times personal, testimony as the body debated whether to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when the fetus would be considered viable outside the womb.

Rep. Tishaura Jones (D-St. Louis), a single mother, told colleagues of her decision to keep her child even after the father told her to have an abortion.

“And I thank God for the choice that I made,” Jones stated. “But that choice is between me and God, not the state.”

Other opponents contended that the government did not have the right to interfere in the most personal of decisions. One opponent said he was conflicted about the bill and finally decided to oppose it, because it makes it a crime for a doctor to be involved in a late-term abortion. Under SB 65, a doctor who performs a late-term abortion in violation of its provisions would be guilty of a class C felony, subject to a year in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Yet, supporters insisted the state has a duty to protect life.

Rep. Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) said a fetus at 20 weeks has all its senses.

“These are little people,” Frederick stated. “They have some vision and hearing. They feel pain. Their little hearts are beating. They’re moving their limbs. And they are innocent as new-born babes. Redundant, isn’t it? And, yet, some will receive a death sentence though they have done absolutely nothing whatsoever to deserve it.”

After an hour debate, the House approved the bill 121-to-33. In early April, the bill passed the Senate 27-5. It now goes to the governor.

Later in the day, the House approved a second late-term abortion bill: HB 213.

That bill is identical with SB 65. The two have different lead sponsors. The Senate bill is sponsored President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, a Republican from Dexter. The House bill is sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones, a Republican from Eureka.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]

AUDIO: House debate on SB 65, late-term abortion bill [1 hour MP3]