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Pregnant women in Missouri can’t get divorced. A Kansas City lawmaker hopes to change that

A woman with dark hair wearing a bright colored blazer smiles.
Representative Ashley Aune
In Missouri, a child must be born before a divorce can be finalized. Rep. Ashley Aune wants to change that.

In Missouri, a child must be born before a divorce can be finalized, and advocates fear this can keep people in domestic violence situations from being able to leave their abusers. Representative Ashley Aune of Kansas City introduced a bill earlier this February that would undo the statute.

Missouri is one of just a handful of states where women aren’t legally allowed to get divorced while pregnant.

Under current state law, a child has to be born before paternity can be confirmed and child-related orders can be settled.

Missouri State Rep. Ashley Aune, who introduced a bill earlier this month to undo the legislation, said the statute is supposed to ensure single mothers receive child support.

However, the law can also keep people in domestic violence situations from being able to leave their abuser, said Aune, who represents parts of Kansas City's Northland.

“If we are living in a state where we are forcing women to carry pregnancies to term, then we need to make sure that they have an opportunity to escape a bad situation if they're in one,” she told KCUR’s Up To Date on Monday.

Corrected: February 29, 2024 at 3:53 PM CST
An earlier version of this story may have understated the number of states that don’t allow pregnant women to get divorced. According to Newsweek, five states have such bans.
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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