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Missouri lawmakers approve three-day abortion waiting period

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(CNN) -- Missouri lawmakers gave final approval to a measure that requires a woman to wait 72 hours from her initial doctor's visit before she gets an abortion.

The Republican-controlled House voted 111-39 in favor of the legislation late Wednesday.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has not said whether he'll sign it.

If the governor signs the bill into law, it will triple the time a woman has to wait to have an abortion in the state.

"Currently, Missouri requires a 24-hour waiting period between the time a woman seeks her first consultation and exam from a physician and the time she returns to undergo an abortion procedure," state Rep. Kevin Elmer said in a statement.

Elmer, who sponsored the bill known as HB1307, said the legislation would give the woman more time to review her decision.

"This bill is a way to give a potential mother some additional time to think about this life-altering decision, and to talk to family and friends who can help provide support during what is undoubtedly a difficult and emotional time," Elmer said in a statement.

"This bill is really an effort to balance the rights of the mother with the rights of the unborn child. We are not denying the mother her rights, but simply asking her to give more thought before making a decision that she may later regret."

Abortion rights advocates slammed the bill, describing it as an intrusion on personal lives.

"Governor Nixon must veto this bill and stand firmly with a woman's right to make her own private medical decisions, including the decision of whether to have an abortion, in consultation with her doctor," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

But anti-abortion group Missouri Right to Life said the measure is long overdue.

It "will save babies and protect all women, both adults and minors, from abortion clinics seeking to make a profit on an abortion," it said in a statement.

The Missouri Senate approved the bill Tuesday in a 22-9 vote after Democrats decided to forgo a filibuster, CNN affiliate KOMU reported.

If it's signed into law, Missouri will join South Dakota and Utah, both of which have a 72-hour waiting period.

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