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Kansas City considers financial support for city employees seeking abortion outside Missouri

Hundreds gathered at Mill Creek Park on Friday to vent and rail against the Supreme Court and lawmakers following the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Hundreds gathered at Mill Creek Park on June 24 to vent and rail against the Supreme Court and lawmakers following the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The City Council will vote Thursday on whether to provide a stipend to city employees who need to travel out of state for an abortion. Nearly all abortions are now illegal in Missouri.

With nearly all abortions now illegal in Missouri, the Kansas City Council will vote Thursday on whether to provide city employees with a stipend to help travel out-of-state for an abortion.

Currently, the closest location for Kansas Citians seeking an abortion is the Planned Parenthood health center and the Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park, Kansas.

If passed, the resolution would provide up to a $300 reimbursement to cover health care-related travel expenses should a city employee seek an abortion outside Missouri.

The resolution also requests that the city's Healthcare System Board of Trustees initiate a 60-day period allowing city employees to choose a health care plan that covers all reproductive health treatments and procedures.

The upcoming vote comes nearly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturnthe landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions nationwide. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt then immediately took action to put Missouri’s 2019 “trigger law” into effect.

A protester rallies in front of Kansas City, Missouri, City Hall. She wears a pink t-shirt and holds a sign that reads, "You didn't like wearing a mask, imagine being told you have to have a baby."
Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga
KCUR 89.3
Alexis Redfairn-Ogunyemi, a high school student from Olathe, protests the overturning of Roe v. Wade in front of Kansas City, Missouri, City Hall on Saturday.

That law prohibits nearly all abortions in the state and makes it a class B felony to induce an abortion. Abortion providers prosecuted under the law could also lose their medical license.

Missouri's abortion ban contains no exceptions for rape or incest. The only exceptions are for medical emergencies that threaten the life of the pregnant person or “create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

Abortions are still legal in Kansas, however, and the state has recently become an abortion refuge for people traveling from nearby states like Missouri and Texas.

On Aug. 2, however, Kansas will be the first state in the country to hold a referendum on abortions following the overturning of Roe. Kansans will vote on whether to amend the state constitution to remove abortion rights from the document, which would likely open the door to the GOP-controlled legislature passing further abortion restrictions.

On Twitter, Mayor Quinton Lucas said Kansas City “will do all it can to ensure our employees and, ultimately, our residents have access to vital healthcare services. Fighting for rights is more important than words.”

Lucas said the city is following the actions of St. Louis officials, who are currently hearing a bill that would create a $1 million municipal Reproductive Equity Fund to help people cover the costs of accessing an abortion, such as travel expenses. St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones has indicated she will sign the bill if it passes.

A bill proposed during Missouri's recently-ended 2022 legislative session would have allowed private citizens to sue anyone aiding a Missouri resident to obtain an abortion, including those who transport them and out-of-state physicians.

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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