Missouri’s Governor Signed an Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill into Law

Obtaining a safe abortion in Missouri just became a lot more difficult.

Beth Wilson / Creative Commons

Missouri’s Governor Greitens called for a special legislative session last month with the intent to further restrict abortion access in the state. Among the myriad pieces of legislation introduced and debated in the body during the session, Senate Bill 5 was not extremely popular among legislators, who complained about having a special session for something that did not constitute as an emergency. Nevertheless, in late July, Missouri’s senate approved of the bill. Governor Greitens signed the bill into law the following day.

SB5 outlines a number of provisions meant to restrict access to abortion in the state, including forced counseling for women seeking abortions by a physician 72 hours before the procedure focused solely on the possible medical risks the patient might experience following the abortion, unnecessary pathological testing of fetal organs and tissues after a pregnancy is terminated and required annual unannounced inspections of facilities that provide abortions.

“After seven weeks of wasting time and taxpayer dollars, Gov. Greitens has finally accomplished what he set out to do: appease his political base by further restricting Missouri women’s access to basic healthcare,” NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri’s Alison Dreith said in a statement. “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.”

The language used in SB5 is deceitful, framing the law as a measure put in place to protect patients when it is, in reality, a TRAP law intended to make it harder for abortion providers to do their jobs. “All healthcare facilities need to be inspected by the health department, that’s a no-brainer,” Dr. Carole Joffe, reproductive rights advocate and sociologist at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco, told Ms. when the Missouri special session began. “With TRAP laws, abortion clinics are treated differently than other parts of the healthcare system.” Laws like SB5, she noted, put anti-abortion extremists in a position to harass clinic staff and doctors with the assistance of the state government.

“Missouri’s abortion laws are already some of the most restrictive in the nation,” Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri Director of Policy and Organizing M’Evie Mead said in a statement. “Federal courts have blocked some of those medically unnecessary restrictions. This political theater is an expensive and ideological ploy to end abortion access in the state. The notion that this session has any benefit for patients’ health and safety is nonsense, and Missourians are smart enough to know that.”

Kelsey Cochran is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a senior at Gettysburg College majoring in Globalization Studies with a focus in Western media portrayal of Arab countries. She aspires to be a photojournalist and has previously been published in her hometown’s independent newspaper The Bay Weekly. When she isn’t tracking down subjects to interview for her next article, you can find her running on the rugby field, taking her friend’s next profile picture or talking about her time spent abroad for the hundredth time. Find her on Tumblr.

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