Amidst Missouri lawmakers' ongoing special session focused on abortion, there will be competing pro-life and pro-choice rallies at the state capitol Wednesday.
Republican Gov. Eric Greitens is hosting what his office calls a “Pro-Life Celebration” in the capitol building Wednesday afternoon. Immediately prior to that gathering, a coalition of Missouri pro-choice groups will also hold a rally.
Organizers of what is being called the “People’s Session Rally” say it is specifically a response to the special legislative session called by Greitens to discuss abortion issues.
“This special session is expensive, unnecessary and extreme,” said Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, Director of Communications for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, as she and other Kansas City-area activists loaded onto a bus to Jefferson City.
The issues involved in the session include a response to a court ruling on Missouri abortion regulations, and the repeal of a Saint Louis ordinance that prevents housing and workplace discrimination based on whether a woman has had an abortion.
The session is expected to cost more than May's special session, which cost $66,000. Lee-Gilmore said this money should be put towards other issues.
“Last legislative session the legislature introduced over 40 anti-choice bills and we defeated all 42 of those bills,” Lee-Gilmore said. “Clearly there are other priorities in Missouri that the governor and his legislature need to focus on.”
Two dozen Kansas City residents were set to attend the "People's Session" rally with at least 200 other demonstrators from across Missouri. After the rally, protesters plan to leave letters expressing their concerns with Greitens.
Meanwhile, a statement from Greiten's office says the the goal of his "pro-life" event is to promote the work of pregnancy care centers as well as “promote a culture of life” in Missouri.
Katie Bernard is a morning news intern at KCUR.