One year ago, on May 24th 2019, Gov. Parson signed into law HB 126, a bill passed to significantly restrict abortion access in Missouri. An omnibus abortion law, HB 126 gained notoriety for being one of the most dangerous abortion bans in the nation, banning abortion after eight weeks, but it included several other provisions as well. The bill was set to go into effect in August 2019, until a federal judge placed an injunction on part of the bill the day before it could be enforced.
What Is NOT Enforceable Today:
Anti-choice lawmakers who wrote HB 126 specifically wrote it to include a “ladder” of bans, which was designed to have several bans (at 8, 14, 18 and 20 weeks) so that if one or more of those bans falls, there would be others to follow.
Fortunately that plan didn’t work out too well for them, as all the time-based bans were struck down, including the 20 week ban.
Another provision, a so-called “reason ban” was temporarily blocked. These “Reason bans” prohibit abortions on the basis of sex, race, or a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Such bans stigmatize pregnant people of color who seek abortions by questioning the motivation behind their abortion decision and are ultimately ineffective at combatting sex selection.
The takeaway: Abortion is still available and legal in Missouri.
How We’ve Fought Back
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri has spent the last year diligently fighting this unconstitutional legislation and other anti-choice laws pushed by politicians who are running a political race to overturn Roe at the Supreme Court.
Last Summer, over 2,000 Missourians rallied together underneath the Gateway Arch to fight back against House Bill 126 and #StopTheBans., and the Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was so afraid of our momentum that he acted illegally to keep us from getting repeal language added to the ballot in August of that year.
The fight continued when we developed our weekly Pro-Choice Power Hour, a gathering of pro-choice advocates and community leaders aiming to push back against the restrictive abortion bans. We are still meeting virtually biweekly, with informative speakers and action items you can take to protect Missourians from additional attacks on our reproductive freedom.
Because there is still work to be done.
While the abortion bans were blocked, certain provisions of HB 126 remained intact and were able to be implemented on Aug. 28, 2019 as planned:
- A “trigger” provision that would ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy except in the case of medical emergencies if Roe v. Wade is overturned. No part of this law affects us today but would be relevant if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
- HB 126 also makes obtaining abortions out of state more difficult; the bill included stipulations that Missourians referred for an abortion procedure out of state must comply with the same informed consent standards set by Missouri. This means if someone is referred in Missouri for an abortion at clinics just over state lines, they are still obligated to read the inaccurate, stigmatizing “informed consent booklet” before they are allowed to receive abortion care.
- Young people will also face additional barriers to abortion care thanks to HB 126. A clause included in the bill requires both parents of a minor to be notified if their child seeks an abortion. Previously, the requirement for young people was only to get consent from one parent, but this adds that an additional parent/guardian will need to be notified if applicable. This extremely harmful provision will have a devastating impact on young peoples’ access to abortion, especially if they are in an abusive household.
- Lastly, the bill mandates that abortion providers buy additional malpractice insurance. This provision is a weak attempt to discourage physicians from providing abortions, but won’t keep dedicated physicians from providing care.
We need you now.
As long as any pieces of this unconstitutional and dangerous attack on reproductive freedom remain, we will keep fighting. NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri committed to protecting the reproductive freedom of all Missourians, which includes protecting access to abortion for all.
We need you to join us today. See our event calendar for more opportunities to help us in this mission, and sign up here to join our Reproductive Freedom Front.