Here's What It Means for Missouri If Roe v. Wade is Overturned

Abortion access may be on the line, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court reveals.

click to enlarge The Supreme Court of the United States has voted to overturn Roe V. Wade, according to a draft opinion obtained by Politico. - PHUONG BUI
Phuong Bui
The Supreme Court of the United States has voted to overturn Roe V. Wade, according to a draft opinion obtained by Politico.

Last night, Politico leaked a draft opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States — one that if it remains unchanged would overturn Roe v. Wade, a court decision from 1973 that protected abortion federally. Once the opinion is officially released, the decision will have dire consequences for abortion in Missouri, a state that already has harsh limits on abortion access in place.

The state already has in place a so-called "trigger law" that will outlaw abortion in the state upon the repeal of Roe v. Wade. The only exception would be in the case of a medical emergency, meaning victims of rape or incest do not have grounds to terminate a pregnancy.

Some Missouri and St. Louis city officials have already begun to react to the news, with many Democrats promising a fight.

“First they come for our bodies - then they come for voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement Monday night. “From the Supreme Court to the Missouri state legislature, right-wing politicians are working overtime to strip away our most personal and fundamental freedoms for their own political gain. If there was ever a time to hit the alarm and break the glass, this is it. Congress must take action to protect abortion rights and keep these bans off of our bodies.”

First passed in 2019, the trigger law says medical providers would commit a felony if they performed or induced an abortion.  And the 2019 law, once debated and blocked for its total ban after eight weeks of pregnancy, is mild compared to some other proposals that have recently been debated in the Missouri legislature.
State Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, had previously pushed in December of 2021 to mimic a Texas abortion ban that prohibited the procedure after six weeks, and would allow private citizens to sue medical providers and those who help someone obtain an abortion out-of-state, better known as an “abortion bounty.”
The first bill failed out of committee, but Coleman has since added proposed amendments to three other bills in the legislature that would put in place an abortion bounty.

Senate candidate and current Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called for the overturning of Roe last night in a Tweet. Schmitt has since issued a statement, saying the Attorney General's office is "encouraged by the draft opinion."

"...it is consistent with the briefs we’ve submitted to the United States Supreme Court calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned," the statement continues. "If we’re successful and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I’m prepared to immediately issue the opinion that would protect the unborn in Missouri.”

Missouri Representative Cori Bush, however, calls abortion a constitutional right that “must be protected by any means necessary.”

“The right to choose has always been vulnerable to a Supreme Court stacked with Trump-appointed judges,” Bush said in a statement when reached by the RFT. “It is why the American people turned out to deliver control of the House, Senate, and White House to Democrats. We cannot throw up our hands like there isn’t anything we can do to protect the reproductive freedom of millions of people in this country — especially when Black, brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+ and low-income people are the communities that will be harmed the most. While abortion is still legal this morning in America, people are going to die because of the decision of a far-right Supreme Court unless Congress acts. The Senate must abolish the filibuster and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, immediately.”

Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said in a statement last night that the organization has long been preparing for the overturning of Roe, and while the decision isn’t official, it brings the nation one step closer to an impending health crisis.

“For now, patients seeking abortion care in Missouri and Illinois, can and should continue to show up for your appointments — abortion remains legal today,” Rodríguez adds. “No matter what, with our partners, we will fight for what little is left of abortion access in Missouri and push forward to expand in Illinois where abortion access is protected beyond Roe.”

Other abortion rights activists emphasize that abortion remains legal, and encourage those who can to donate to abortion funds that help women travel to obtain the procedure, like the Missouri Abortion Fund.
Missouri’s current abortion law allows the procedure up to 22 weeks and mandates every woman to obtain informed consent about the procedure at least 72 hours before receiving an abortion. There is only one abortion clinic left in Missouri, a Planned Parenthood facility in the Central West End. However, across the river in Illinois, there is Hope Clinic for Women and another Planned Parenthood facility that provides abortion services.

Anita Manion, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UMSL, tells the RFT that Democrats are already framing abortion as the central choice in the 2022 election. She adds that voters who feel threatened or have had something taken away tend to turn out more than voters who have a recent political victory, who are more likely to feel complacent.

Manion says that in Missouri, the recent leaked decision could potentially impact the statewide Senate race, particularly if Eric Greitens is the Republican nominee.

"This is a situation where if you get what I would say is the weakest Republican candidate, Greitens, and then throw in this issue, which could drive suburban moms and young voters, it could make that election a little more competitive," Manion said.

Manion also said that reading the leaked decision draft she found that the way the right to privacy would be weakened could also have implications for LGBTQ issues, like marriage equality, and contraception access.

"Saying that the Constitution doesn't include a right to privacy may erode those other rights which are based on a right to privacy as well," she said.

Note: This post has been updated to include additional comments. We will continue to update as necessary.

About The Authors

Jenna Jones

Jenna Jones is one of the digital content editors at the Riverfront Times. She would love to talk to you about Harry Styles.

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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