Missouri House votes to restrict child marriages

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Missouri House has passed a bill to ban marriages of children under 15 years old.

House members voted 95-50 Monday to send the bill to the Senate. Backers say it would help stop abuse through coerced marriages, while opponents argue it would take away parents’ rights to decide whether to allow their children to marry.

Children ages 15-17 now can get married with a parent’s permission. Those younger than 15 need approval from a judge.

The bill would require 15-17-year-olds to get a judge’s approval following a court hearing. Children 14 years old or younger couldn’t marry.

The measure would also ban marriages if one partner is at least 21 years old and the other is younger than 17.

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