What comes next for Missouri after the end of Roe? Here are 3 key takeaways
Missouri has now banned abortion in the state, except in cases where a parent’s health is severely threatened. But the full effects of the state’s ban and its legal ramifications are still to be seen, and activists on both sides say their work is far from over.
Missouri officials on Friday wasted no time in putting the state’s abortion ban into effect after the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 opinion overturning the 1973 decision that ensured a federal right to abortions.
Abortion is now illegal in Missouri except in cases where a parent’s health is severely threatened. But the full effects of the state’s ban and its legal ramifications are still to be seen, and activists on both sides say their work is far from over.
Pro- and anti-abortion rights activists say their work will continue
Anti-abortion rights activists agree this is a huge step. But the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t outlaw abortion federally, it just allows states to make their own laws banning or restricting it. Abortion is still legal in many states, including Illinois. Activists want to further restrict abortion at the state level through constitutional amendments and other measures that would further protect state bans.
Activists say they want to support people who would have gotten an abortion through access to adoption, rent support and expanded health care options for new parents. Brian Westbrook of the anti-abortion rights group Coalition Life said the goal was to make abortion “not only illegal, but unthinkable.”
Abortion rights advocates like Planned Parenthood and Pro Choice Missouri said their short-term goal is keeping abortion access open to patients, especially to people who are poor or in states where these new bans are in effect. That means encouraging donations to abortion funds and coordinating travel and lodging for people who need to go to states where it’s legal. In the long term, they’re pushing for federal and state politicians who will protect abortion rights where the procedure is still legal and restore them in places where it now isn’t.
Although the number of abortions performed in Missouri has dwindled, Friday’s decision will still affect the state’s residents
There were fewer than 200 abortions performed in Missouri in 2021, but the decision will still have ramifications for those who want to get an abortion, experts said.
For years, many abortion patients from Missouri have relied on going to Illinois, Kansas and other states with less restrictive laws. Now that many Midwestern and Southern states are planning to restrict or outright ban abortions, clinics elsewhere are going to be absorbing many more patients.
Clinics have been preparing by shoring up their staff and expanding physically, but health workers at those facilities also said it’s going to be harder for patients to make an appointment. People likely will have to travel farther to get an abortion.
In Illinois, clinic workers are advocating for expanding who can perform surgical abortions. Now, only doctors are allowed to perform the procedure, but they want nurse practitioners to be able to do it too.
Friday’s decision and Missouri’s trigger law do not affect Missourians' access to birth control and the Plan B pill — yet
There’s no language regarding birth control in Missouri’s trigger law. It is focused on abortions and terminating pregnancy. The 2019 law also mentions that a woman who has an abortion should not be prosecuted under the ban.
Legal and medical experts St. Louis Public Radio has talked to say the trigger ban doesn’t apply to emergency contraception — at least not immediately.
Plan B — sometimes called the morning-after pill or emergency contraception —isn’t immediately affected by the state’s trigger law. Plan B keeps a person from releasing an egg, keeps an egg from being fertilized or keeps a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. It’s used after unprotected sex or if birth control fails.
Emergency contraception is still available at pharmacies in Missouri.
However, Roe v. Wade established a right to privacy, and experts have warned that overturning the decision could eventually have ramifications for the availability of birth control and for Plan B and other emergency contraception.
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @petit_smudge
Follow Wayne on Twitter: @wayneradio
Copyright 2022 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.