At a rally Sunday afternoon, a line of abortion-rights marchers encircled nearly the entire Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, a distance of just over a mile.
The protesters shouted slogans and carried signs opposing an abortion bill passed by the Missouri legislators. The bill, H.B. 126, would ban abortions at about 8 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for incest or rape. Republican Gov. Mike Parson says he plans to sign it into law.
Kansas City native Channtique McClelland says she came to the rally to support women’s rights to choose whether to have abortions.
“If you’re not for abortion, I respect that, ‘cause that’s you abiding your beliefs, but don’t try to impose yourself and your beliefs on me,” McClelland said.
The protestors said that the bill violates federal protections for abortions, established by the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, and that it would lead to women getting unsafe abortions.
Protestor Mindy Taylor said she objected to what she described as black-and-white moralizing of a complex issue.
“Just because we’re pro-choice doesn’t mean we’re pro-abortion,” Taylor said.
The Missouri bill is designed to ban abortions starting at the time when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which may be before a woman knows she is pregnant.
Sunday’s event was organized and promoted by several political groups, including Planned Parenthood Great Plains, UMKC College Democrats, ACLU of Missouri and the Green Party of Kansas City, Missouri.
The Kansas City rally was scheduled to coincide with protests in Georgia, where Republican governor Brian Kemp recently signed into law a similar fetal heartbeat measure.
If signed into law by Governor Parson, the Missouri measure is expected to face legal challenges.
Alex Smith is a health reporter for KCUR. You can reach him at email@example.com.