JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Depending on the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision of Roe v. Wade, Missouri could be one of the most impacted states because of a bill passed back in 2019.
The General Assembly approved legislation three years ago that would ban abortions after eight weeks with no exception to rape or incest. A day before the law was set to go into effect, it was blocked by a federal judge. That bill signed by Gov. Mike Parson includes a “trigger law” which means women could lose all access to an abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“Just had to take a minute, read through it, and let it sink in that this is actually happening,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said Tuesday, explaining what she thought after reading the leaked report Monday night.
Monday night, a draft opinion was leaked saying the Supreme Court would rule to overturn a 1973 ruling that established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Republican lawmakers in the Show-Me State see this as a win.
“Getting the judicial policy right and putting more power back into the hands of the state, more power into the hands of voters, that part is good,” said Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). “If Roe v. Wade is overturned and the power is given back to the state, we are going to exercise that power to effectively eliminate abortions in the state of Missouri.”
The law passed back in 2019 would ban abortions after eight weeks, not allowing any exemptions for rape or incest survivors. It also includes a provision prohibiting a mother from getting an abortion if she receives a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis. Since being blocked by a federal judge, it’s been an ongoing legal fight. Back in September, a rare move as all 11 members of a federal court of appeals heard the case.
The bill includes a “trigger” provision that could make abortions illegal in Missouri. House Bill 126 also contains language that would criminalize health care providers who violate the ban on abortions, resulting in prison time or having their medical licenses suspended or revoked
“First, the courts would have to dismiss that lawsuit. Then, the attorney general or the governor could make their opinion or do a proclamation to overturn,” Quade said. “There’s a lot for folks to be thinking about right now.”
Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement Tuesday that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, he’s ready to ban abortion.
“We’re encouraged by the draft opinion, and it is consistent with the briefs we’ve submitted to the United States Supreme Court calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. If we’re successful and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I’m prepared to immediately issue the opinion that would protect the unborn in Missouri.”
Quade said it’s common for her constituents from Springfield to drive to Illinois to receive women’s health care.
“If things stay the way they are in Missouri, there’s no telling if birth control is next,” Quade said. “Until we elect more folks who are willing to vote against a policy that allows the government to intervene in conversations with your doctor and yourself, there not much of a fight left in Missouri.”
There are 11 Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, but the only one that offers abortion is the one in the Central West End in St. Louis.
The president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri said in a statement that since abortion is still legal, they will continue to offer the service:
While tonight’s leaked opinion is a draft, it previews what we’ve long been preparing for — the day Roe v. Wade is overturned and the legal right to abortion comes to an end in this country. We knew this opinion was coming and while it’s not official, it brings us one step closer to an impending public health crisis.
For now, patients seeking abortion care in Missouri and Illinois, can and should continue to show up for your appointments — abortion remains legal today. No matter what, with our partners, we will fight for what little is left of abortion access in Missouri and push forward to expand in Illinois where abortion access is protected beyond Roe.
Quade said in an interview Tuesday, that she’s concerned about what this will do for the economic development of the state.
“If Roe is overturned, that’s a whole other thing that folks are going to be looking at,” Quade said. “Is this a state I actually want to live in? Is this a state I’m going to have access to healthcare?”
Due to the limited access, the number of abortions performed each year in Missouri has significantly decreased over the years. Currently, in Missouri, a woman can have an abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Here is the list of abortions per year in the last decade from the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS):
2010 – 6,163
2011 – 5,772
2012 – 5,624
2013 – 5,416
2014 – 5,060
2015 – 4,765
2016 – 4,562
2017 – 3,903
2018 – 2,911
2019 – 1,471
2020 – 167
2021 — 150
A spokeswoman for DHSS said in 2021, of the 150 abortions recorded, 48 of them were performed in an abortion facility.
“We have effectively eliminated abortions in the state of Missouri already because of some of the other things we’ve done, but that doesn’t preclude folks from going to Illinois or other places,” Rowden said.
In the past two years, lawmakers have added policies that prevent funding from going to abortion providers and their affiliates like Planned Parenthood. Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state for withholding funding. The state does not allow any public funds from going towards services like abortion.
“It’s not meant to be an anti-woman position. It’s not meant to be anything other than I think that’s when life begins, and I want to protect that life,” Rowden said. “You’re going to have blue states, you’re going to have red states.”
Rowden also said the leak of the opinion also concerns him of possible threats behind the Supreme Court Justices.
“The Supreme Court shouldn’t make a decision based on what they think the response is going to be public. That is scary and something we are going to try to rectify,” Rowden said.