May 24 (UPI) -- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday signed new legislation banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, joining other conservative states in a push to tighten restrictions on the procedure in recent weeks.
The law, one of the most restrictive in the United States, bans abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy. It goes into effect in August.
"By signing this bill today, we are sending a strong signal to the nation that, in Missouri, we stand for life, protect women's health, and advocate for the unborn," Parson said. "All life has value and is worth protecting."
The law also bans abortions solely because of a diagnosis of down syndrome or because of the baby's gender or race.
If a physician fails to check for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion, he or she will face revocation of their medical licenses along with a $1,000 fine. Doctors also could be sent to prison for up to 15 years.
Missouri's new law comes on the heels of a number of other states passing or considering similar laws to limit abortions. Alabama signed the most restrictive yet, a near-total ban on abortions unless the woman's life is at risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Legislatures in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio passed so-called "heartbeat" bills, banning abortions after eight weeks, earlier this year.
"What's happening in Missouri is not just about Missouri," she said.
"Let's be clear. This bill does not stop abortions. It will stop safe, legal abortions and we know the consequence of that. It's women's lives."