The Missouri House voted Wednesday in Jefferson City to give final approval to anti-abortion legislation that supporters call the strongest pro-life bill in the nation. The bill would effectively ban most abortions.

Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr speaks to Capitol reporters on February 27, 2019 in Jefferson City, as State Reps. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, Adam Schnelting and Nick Schroer look on (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

A Democratic state senator from St. Louis vows to filibuster the bill on the Senate floor.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, tells Capitol reporters the primary goal is to protect unborn children.

“We’ve drafted this in the hopes that it survives judicial scrutiny,” Haahr says. “We’ve given what we believe to be the strongest legal argument if it goes to court, but also the strongest protections if it stays into law.”

Wednesday’s House vote was 117-39, and three Democratic lawmakers voted for the bill. They were State Reps. Steve Butz, D-St. Louis, Joe Runions, D-Grandview, and Rory Rowland, D-Independence.

State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, is the bill sponsor. His legislation also prohibits selective abortions due to sex, race, or a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Schroer says it started as a heartbeat bill.

“It would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, that could be about as much as six weeks into the pregnancy,” says Schroer.

Schroer’s bill, which is House Bill 126, establishes the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act.” It also requires abortion providers to increase the minimum amount of required medical malpractice insurance from $500,000 to $1 million per occurrence.

Bill opponents include State Rep. Cora Faith Walker, D-Ferguson, who says it would hurt women and children. State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, also voted against the bill, saying the focus should be on Missouri’s high maternal mortality rate.

Schroer’s bill now heads to the Missouri Senate, where State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, says she’ll filibuster the bill. Nasheed, the Senate Minority Caucus Whip, tweeted Wednesday that opponents will fight for reproductive rights in Missouri.

Despite Nasheed’s plan to filibuster, Schroer is optimistic the Missouri Senate will approve the bill.

“I sat down with Senator (Andrew) Koenig who’s got the sister bill of this who will be the handler,” Schroer says. “I spoke with Senator (Bob) Onder and several other senators that are very ecstatic at what we’ve compiled over here.”

State Reps. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, and Adam Schnelting, R-St. Charles, also appeared at Wednesday’s Statehouse press conference with Speaker Haahr and Schroer.

Click here to listen to the full six-minute press conference with Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr and State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, which took place on February 27, 2019 in Jefferson City: