NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri has been on the front lines fighting to protect and advance reproductive freedom for more than four decades, and has been the first line of defense to the incessant anti-choice attacks at the state level in recent years. While there is value in being the lead defender against anti-choice attacks in our state, there is a clear need to shift to an offensive approach – to not just protect, but expand reproductive rights.
Victories for pro-choice advocates this year included:
Clinic Protection (Board Bill 34) In June, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen heard the Buffer Zone ordinance in the Public Safety committee. Board Bill 34 would protect patients and clinic personnel from unwanted harassment and interference when entering and exiting reproductive-health clinics by establishing an 8 foot buffer zone. NARAL will continue to work with St. Louis City officials to protect patients, staff, and escorts at local clinics.
Paid Family Leave (SB69 and HB659) After three years, Missouri state legislators finally heard in committee a historic, bipartisan bill that provides 6 weeks of paid leave to workers who need time off to care for a new child, to take care of a sick or injured family member, or to deal with a personal medical issue. While the bill has not passed yet, this is a huge victory in Missouri, and we will continue to work in 2018 to make Paid Leave a reality for all Missourians.
Reproductive Nondiscrimination (Board Bill 203) In February, St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance to protect city residents from discrimination based on their reproductive decisions, including abortion, using birth control, IVF, or in pregnancy. No person should be fired from their job or denied housing based on their private reproductive health choices. NARAL will continue to work on the state level to make sure these protections are available for all women and families.
Whole Woman’s Health In 2017, after years of being a one clinic state, Missouri finally was able to start providing abortions in three cities. Because of a federal judge’s ruling, abortion services are now provided in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia!
Columbia City Ordinance Against Discrimination (B 321-17) Passed in November! This ordinance bans discrimination against pregnant women. NARAL endorsed this ordinance to update the city’s nondiscrimination protections to include pregnancy, childbirth and other related medical decisions regarding familial status. This legislature ensures that communities remain respectful toward women and families.
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri also fought back against anti-choice attacks.
During the regular legislative session in 2017, NARAL was able to help defeat over 30 pieces of anti-choice policy that would further restrict access to basic healthcare. However, anti-choice provisions in the budget (HB10 and HB11), were passed to prohibit many of the state’s reproductive healthcare centers from accessing the same public funding used by other providers. The budget also allocated funding to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs)—anti-choice organizations known to intimidate and deceive women in order to manipulate women from choosing an abortion.
After a seven week abortion special session called by Gov.Greitens over the summer and costing taxpayers $92,000, the GOP-led state legislature passed SB5 to place further restrictions on Missouri women’s ability to access basic reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with protecting women and everything to do with ripping away access to constitutionally protected healthcare. This entire emergency session was nothing more than free advertising for Greitens’ personal political ambitions, where women were treated as pawns to satisfy his desire for higher office. NARAL members will continue to hold Gov. Greitens and his anti-choice allies accountable for their harmful and out-of-touch agenda.
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri has led the fight against Gov. Greitens wasteful emergency session and his continued efforts to restrict women’s access to basic care. NARAL ran radio and online ads calling out Greitens for his backward agenda. NARAL members participated in the first-ever “People’s Special Session” at the state capitol, highlighting the real needs of Missouri families that were being ignored by Greitens and the GOP. NARAL members also donned red robes to participate in a Handmaid’s Tale protest that called out the governor’s fringe agenda.