72 Hours Later: How a Mizzou Student Turned Waiting into an Abortion Rights Protest

Categories: Politics

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Dina van der Zalm testifies on House Bill 1313.
As politicians argue that Missouri women need mandatory waiting periods before deciding to have an abortion, a University of Missouri masters student told lawmakers she'd wait 72 hours before testifying against waiting periods so they'd know she meant what she said.

"I would like you to be able to trust in my opinions," Dina van der Zalm told the committee Wednesday. "Since this bill...makes the assumption that women are not capable of making difficult decisions without the aid of politicians requiring additional time -- an additional three days -- to really think it through, then I can only assume that you're not going to legitimately listen [to] or value the opinions I would like to state today."

Missouri, like most states, currently has a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion; only Utah and South Dakota have 72-hour waiting periods.

On the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade supreme court decision that made abortion legal in the U.S., supporters of House Bill 1313 told the Health Care Policy Committee that 24 hours isn't enough time for a woman to make such an important decision.

Opponents to waiting periods say delays only force women to go further into unwanted pregnancies, increasing the risk of unnecessary complications. Plus, opponents argue, women are capable of making up their own minds without government-mandated time requirements.

See also: New Abortion Restrictions in Missouri: Gov. Jay Nixon Allows Passage of GOP Legislation

Van der Zalm, who called the bill an "abuse of legislative power," said that if the committee members believe women can't make up their minds in less than 72 hours, then she'll wait that long before giving her testimony to prove her opinion won't change.

"I would like to take your recommended waiting period and return Monday after I've had time to really think through my decisions," she said. "I'm pretty sure of how I feel. I'm pretty sure it's not going to change at all."

Van der Zalm's approach caught on quick:

Doctors are required to give women relevant medical information for the waiting period. Law also requires that women have a chance to hear their fetus' heartbeat, if audible, in an ultrasound.

There were 9,027 abortions performed on Missouri residents in 2012, according to the Associated Press, which means the number of Missouri abortions has declined each year since 2008.

The committee did not vote on the proposal Wednesday, and there's no schedule for further action.

Continue reading for the full text of the bill.



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