Pro-choice protestors gathered at 7th and Rangeline in Joplin Thursday evening to express their frustration with the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last week.
Shouting “My body, my choice” and “Abortion rights are human rights”, those in attendance also declared that “pro-life is a lie, you don’t care if people die.”
“People in Missouri are going to suffer from this, especially people that are below the poverty level that already don’t have access to good healthcare,” said Jamie Lindsey of Julie Joplin Media. “We are out here because we are angry. We still want to make change, we still want to influence people and we want to gather and create our networks as a community so we have these systems of support.”
Missouri became the first state to officially ban abortion just minutes after Friday’s SCOTUS ruling. Missouri law previously allowed abortions up until 22 weeks of pregnancy. But a 2019 state law banned abortions “except in cases of medical emergency,” contingent upon the U.S. Supreme Court overturning its 1973 landmark ruling.
Under that Missouri law, performing an illegal abortion is a felony punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison. Medical professionals who do so also could lose their licenses. The law says that women undergoing abortions cannot be prosecuted.
There are some questions though regarding that Missouri law with many asking if birth control or emergency contraceptives are banned as well.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said Wednesday that “Missouri law has not changed the legality of contraceptives. Contraceptives are not abortions and are not affected by the Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act.”
“There hasn’t been any documentation that says contraceptives aren’t in this [ban], so Crystal Quade, the Representative out of Springfield is trying to get the documentation,” said Lindsey. “We know how politicians can be, they say one thing and do another so we’re just waiting to see the proof that it’s not going to be like that.”
Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker of Neosho says ectopic pregnancies would be considered a “medical emergency”.
Some Missouri residents who want abortions are likely to travel to neighboring states, like Kansas, where the state’s Supreme Court in 2019 declared that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the state constitution.
But Kansas’ GOP-controlled Legislature put a constitutional amendment on the August 2 ballot that would declare that the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion. It would allow lawmakers to restrict abortion as much as the federal courts will allow.
Even without the ban in Missouri, the number of Missouri patients seeking abortions in Kansas has gone up in recent years, increasing about 8% from 2020 to 2021.
The Associated Press contributed to this report