26 states poised to ban or further restrict access to abortion, including Missouri who is among 13 states with a trigger ban, leaving 36 million women and people who can become pregnant without access to safe abortion options.
KANSAS CITY – The Supreme Court issued a shameful ruling today overturning Roe v. Wade — the nearly 50 year old landmark decision recognizing the constitutional right to an abortion – jeopardizing all access to safe abortions in Missouri.
Missouri passed a trigger law in 2019 that would go into effect once the Governor, Attorney General, or General Assembly signed or passed a proclamation or resolution. The law would make all abortions illegal with a narrow exception for medical emergencies. Both Governor Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt have promised that they will enact the trigger ban as soon as possible to end the right to safe abortion.
“The extreme, radical shift in the philosophy of the Supreme Court to remove rights granted by the Constitution regardless of nearly 50 years of precedent will undoubtedly force millions of people to face the life-altering consequences of being denied essential health care,” said Luz María Henríquez, American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Executive Director. “The choice to have an abortion has been ripped from individuals and placed in predominantly white, male-led state legislatures across the country who have repeatedly failed to address issues that would make pregnancy safer or decrease the maternal mortality rate, which is four times higher for Black women than white women in Missouri.”
The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is an unprecedented attack on women’s rights and reproductive freedom. Half the states in the country are expected to ban abortion, denying 36 million women and people who can become pregnant the fundamental right to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent. That includes more than 1.7 million women and people in Missouri.
Missouri residents have already experienced severe obstacles to safe abortion care, forcing many to carry a pregnancy against their will and face the life-altering consequences, including enduring serious health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth, making it harder to escape poverty, derailing their education and career plans, and making it more difficult to leave an abusive partner. Today’s ruling will have a deadly impact, with the harm falling hardest on Black women and people of color who already face a severe maternal mortality crisis that is the worst in the same states that are determined to ban abortion. In fact, Black women are three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after. If abortion is banned nationwide, pregnancy-related deaths are estimated to increase by 21 percent nationwide, and 33 percent among Black women. Missouri consistently ranks in the bottom 10 states in the nation for maternal mortality. The average maternal mortality rate was 33 deaths per 100,000 live births. For black women, the average jumps to 87.6 deaths per 100,000 live births which is four times greater than that of White women (21.9).
Banning abortion will have an immediate and devastating impact on women and all people who can become pregnant, taking from them a right that has been central to their ability to plan their lives, families, and careers. But the burdens will disproportionately fall on women, communities of color, those struggling to make ends meet, young people, rural residents, undocumented immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ communities. This opinion will also lead to pregnancy losses being subject to suspicion, investigation, and arrest, and patients and doctors facing charges and jail.
Politicians who do not believe in protecting the civil rights and liberties of their constituents have no business in governors’ mansions, in state attorneys general’s offices, on state supreme court benches, or in state legislatures. We will be here to hold them to account. The ACLU of Missouri will continue to fight for abortion rights in the courts, in the statehouse, at the ballot box through ballot measures and other races, and in the streets - not just today – but for the foreseeable future.