Join our family of curious Kansas Citians

Discover unheard stories about Kansas City, every Thursday.

Thank you for subscribing!

Check your inbox, you should see something from us.

Sign Me Up
Hit enter to search or ESC to close

Missouri Bans Almost all Abortions After Roe v. Wade is Overturned. Here’s What You Need to Know Historic Ruling

Share this story
Above image credit: Members of the crowd chant during a rally at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City where protesters gathered after the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court indicating the landmark Roe v. Wade decision will be overturned. (Carlos Moreno | KCUR 89.3)
Sponsor Message Become a Flatland sponsor
3 minute read

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a monumental decision ending constitutional protections for abortion — a change that will have immediate consequences in Missouri.

The case, “Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” concerned a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In upholding Mississippi’s law, a conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court also reversed the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which declared that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before the point of viability — in the first two trimesters when a fetus is unable to survive outside the womb.

Now, with a 6-3 decision, the court leaves the fate of reproductive rights entirely up to individual states.

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the decision reads.

Here are the answers to some of the most pressing questions about the new status of abortion laws in Missouri:

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, are abortions banned in Missouri?

In 2019, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Bill 126, which contains a so-called “trigger ban” prohibiting nearly all abortions in the state.

That ban goes into effect as soon as the governor or attorney general certifies that Roe has been overturned, or the legislature enacts a resolution to the same effect.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt has done exactly that, just moments after the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

What penalties does Missouri’s abortion ban carry?

The trigger law makes it a class B felony to induce an abortion. Class B felonies carry prison sentences of five to 15 years.

Abortion providers could also have their medical licenses suspended or revoked.

Does the law have any exceptions?

The law makes no exception for rape or incest. Its 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.”

Can someone who tries to get an abortion be prosecuted under Missouri’s law?

No. The law only applies to abortion providers.

What about a person who self-induces an abortion?

As noted, the trigger law stipulates that a woman getting an abortion cannot be charged. But it’s not entirely clear if that remains the case for self-induced medication abortions.

“If a woman, for example, induced an abortion herself by taking an abortion-inducing drug, it’s not clear under the statute that she couldn’t be prosecuted,” St. Louis University law professor Marcia McCormick told St. Louis Public Radio in May.

Does Missouri have any abortion providers still?

Yes, but only one.

Fourteen years ago, Missouri had five abortion clinics. Today, owing to a raft of restriction passed by the Missouri legislature, there’s only one: Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, photographed on Monday, June 6, 2022, in St. Louis is the only abortion provider in Missouri.
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, photographed on Monday, June 6, 2022, in St. Louis is the only abortion provider in Missouri. (Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio)

In the St. Louis area, abortions are also available at Planned Parenthood’s health center just across the river in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

On the Kansas City side of the state, Planned Parenthood’s health center and the Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park, Kansas, just over the state line, also offer abortion services.

For residents in Springfield or the middle of Missouri, people have to travel at least 166 miles to the nearest abortion facility – i.e., the one in St. Louis. (It’s 215 miles to the facility in Overland Park.)

In fact, that actually understates the amount of travel that someone seeking an abortion will likely have to undertake. That’s because Missouri law also requires a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion can be provided.

As a result, any low-income people who can’t afford to pay for accommodations in St. Louis will have to make the trip twice.

Does Missouri’s law ban contraceptives such as IUDs or emergency birth control measures such as the “morning-after pill”?

The law does not address measures to prevent pregnancy, as opposed to measures to end it. Planned Parenthood says it believes Missouri’s law will not affect access to birth control.

“Birth control does not meet the criteria for the definition under MO law,” the organization tweeted in May. “Since birth control prevents pregnancy (and does not end an existing pregnancy, overturning #Roe will not block access to birth control.”

Likewise, the law does not ban in vitro fertilization (IVF).

With Roe overturned, is Missouri expected to pass even more anti-abortion measures?

Quite possibly. Republicans in the legislature have proposed various constitutional amendments that would explicitly declare that the Missouri Constitution does not include the right to an abortion.

(In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the right to an abortion is rooted in the Kansas Constitution. In response, the Kansas Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to voters this August that would overturn that decision.)

Other proposed measures include a novel proposal allowing private citizens to sue anyone aiding a Missourian to obtain an abortion, including those who transport them and out-of-state physicians.

Republican state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, who introduced the measure in Missouri’s recently-ended 2022 session, told Politico that it specifically targets the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights, Illinois. However, it would also impact Missouri residents who sought abortion services in Overland Park, Kansas.

Rain pummels a billboard promoting The Hope Clinic for Women on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in East St. Louis.
Rain pummels a billboard promoting The Hope Clinic for Women on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in East St. Louis. (Brian Munoz | St. Louis Public Radio)

Like Texas’ six-week abortion ban, which the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to stay in effect for the last nine months, this bill seeks to circumvent legal challenges by placing enforcement in the hands of private citizens rather than state officials.

Another bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Brian Seitz, targets out-of-state pharmacists who help Missourians obtain a medication abortion. Yet another proposal would make it illegal to transport abortion medications through the mail.

Dan Margolies covers health care and legal affairs for KCUR 89.3, where this story first appeared. KCUR is a member of the KC Media Collective.

Flatland logo, KC Media Collective logo

Like what you are reading?

Discover more unheard stories about Kansas City, every Thursday.

Thank you for subscribing!

Check your inbox, you should see something from us.

Enter Email
Flatland relies on reader support to deliver in-depth coverage of the stories that are important to this region. Do your part and make your crucial donation now. Support Local Journalism
Sponsor Message Become a Flatland sponsor

Ready to read next

Third and Grand Developer Sweetens Deal, Wins Incentives on Second Try

Prevailing Wage Agreement Key to Deal

Read Story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *