JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules, abortions could be illegal in the state of Missouri.
Dozens gathered outside of the Missouri Supreme Court building Wednesday to pray for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Currently, a woman in Missouri can have an abortion up to 22 weeks, but depending on the outcome in Washington D.C., that could change.
“The fact that we are all here today shows the pro-choice movement that we are not remaining silent on this issue, nor will we remain silent as the Supreme Court continues their deliberations on this case,” said Lucy Gonzalez, Missouri and Arkansas Regional Coordinator for Students for Life of America.
While the battle over Mississippi’s abortion law is in the nation’s spotlight, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks, the overall decision could affect the Show-Me State.
“It’s literally crossing our fingers and hoping that the willfully, like sub-standard, reality that we’ve been living, especially here in Missouri, that the system perseveres,” chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region and Southwest Missouri Dr. Colleen McNicholas said Wednesday.
McNicholas said already, clinics in Illinois are seeing an increase in patients following Texas’ new law which bans abortions after six weeks, making it the most restrictive state in the country for abortions.
“We are seeing patients get in the car at 2 a.m. in the morning and drive nine hours for me to hand them a pull to get back in the car and drive nine hours back because that is literally the only day they can access abortion,” McNicholas said.
Back in 2019, the General Assembly passed a bill banning abortions in Missouri after eight weeks, the law not allowing exemptions for rape or incest survivors or if the mother receives a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis.
A day before it was set to go into effect, a federal judge blocked the measure, and it has been an ongoing legal fight since.
“Could Missouri be the next state to join Texas with an abortion ban so early most folks don’t even know that they are pregnant, absolutely we could,” McNicholas said. “With a situation where we have one remaining abortion facility in the state, we’re talking about folks traveling hundreds of miles, multiple times to be able to access that reproductive healthcare.”
Planned Parenthood in the Central West End in St. Louis is Missouri’s only abortion clinic. The Show-Me State is one of five states across the country that only has one clinic.
Depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules, it could lead to abortion becoming illegal in the state of Missouri.
Over the summer, Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined nearly two dozen other attorneys general in filing a brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion regulation to the states.
Those in attendance Wednesday hope by overturning Roe, the doors in St. Louis will close as well.
“It is time that our laws catch up to the 21st Century,” Western Regional Director for Students for Life of America Reagan Barkledge said. “Dobbs v. Jackson is our chance to finally re-examine and chip away at Roe v. Wade.”
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft also spoke at the rally.
“The Supreme Court may decide what is constitutional and what is not, they do not decide what is moral and what is right and what is just,” Ashcroft said.
Under the Missouri law passed back in 2019, physicians who perform abortions after eight weeks could face anywhere from 5-15 years in prison but the woman who made the decision to have the abortion would not be charged. Anyone who participates in an abortion after the knowledge of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis could be charged with civil penalties, which could include the loss of a medical license.
At present in Missouri, a woman can have an abortion up to 22 weeks. The number of abortions in Missouri per year has decreased significantly over the years in the past decade. According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, the state recorded 6,163 abortions in 2010, but only 46 in 2020.
Here is the list of abortions per year in the last decade:
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 – 1,368
2020 – 46
As for Missouri’s law that’s in the federal court of appeals, which was heard by all 11 members back in September, a rare move, there is no timeline on when a decision could be made.
The country’s highest court is most likely months away from deciding on the ruling.