Cold, wet, and overcast. Today at noon over fifty individuals gathered at the amphitheater on the campus of the University of Central Missouri for a rally in support of women’s reproductive rights. After hearing speakers the group marched to the Johnson County Courthouse, forming a picket line and chanting to passing traffic. At times those drivers honked in support.
“Women’s Rights are Human Rights”
“We are not obligated to bear your children”
There were several speakers at the rally, including Jessica Piper (D):
Jessica Piper (D).
Marching from the University to the Johnson County Courthouse:
“Vote the Mother Fuckers Out”
“Abort the Court”
“We’ll be less Activist if you be less Shit”
Fifty years ago:
“My body, not yours”
“If you think being forced to wear a mask is bad, imagine being forced to have a baby”
“Separate Cooch and State”
“We demand safe, legal and accessible healthcare for Everyone”
Yesterday was the first day of bill filing (“prefiling”) for the 2020 Regular Session (100th General Assembly, 2nd Regular Session) of the Missouri General Assembly.
Today, a bill filed by a member of the Democratic Party super minority:
Establishes the “Respect Women’s Abortion Decisions Act”
Sponsor: Morgan, Judy (024)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2020
LR Number: 3510H.01I
Last Action: 12/03/2019 – Prefiled (H)
Bill String: HB 1574
Next House Hearing: Hearing not scheduled
Calendar: Bill currently not on a House calendar
ST. LOUIS — Today, a U.S. District Court judge in the Western District of Missouri granted a preliminary injunction, blocking several provisions of Missouri’s sweeping abortion bans passed earlier this year. The blocked bans, which would have made abortion illegal starting at eight weeks, would have taken effect tomorrow. This lawsuit challenges a law that created an unprecedented number of bans at once, at nearly every stage of pregnancy, which is part of a multi-layered effort by state politicians to push abortion out of reach for 1.1 million Missourians of reproductive age. The provision the court allowed to take effect, at least at this preliminary stage, blocks patients from seeking an abortion based on race, gender, or Down syndrome diagnosis. Missouri is now one of eight states that force doctors to investigate why their patients are making a deeply personal medical decision. The court indicated openness to reviewing the issue again on a renewed motion.
In May, emboldened by the Trump administration, Gov. Mike Parson signed House Bill 126, which imposes a series of draconian abortion bans and medically unnecessary restrictions designed to make it impossible for patients to access abortion. Last month, Planned Parenthood, along with partners at the ACLU and law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, took the state of Missouri to court over the clearly unconstitutional abortion bans. With only one abortion provider left in the state, access is left hanging by a thread.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America: “Today’s decision blocks a harmful law that bans abortion before many know they’re pregnant. What little abortion access in Missouri is left will stay in place for the time being. In the meantime, we cannot ignore the part of this law that remains in place, which allows politicians to interfere with the patient-provider relationship. Let’s be very clear: these severe restrictions on abortion access do nothing to address disability rights or discrimination. They only stigmatize abortion and shame the people who seek that care. Planned Parenthood won’t cower to politicians. We will continue fighting in court and working with every person to ensure they get the health care they need and deserve.”
Statement from Dr. Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region: “Abortion access has once again been protected in Missouri by the courts, but only for some. Although the judge recognized the merits of our case, he has also allowed parts of the law to go into effect. While most people seeking abortion will thankfully still be able to do so, allowing the reason ban to take effect will have a measurable impact. It requires physicians to interrogate patients and, in turn, destroys the foundation of trust essential in a health care setting. Missourians do not need or want politicians in their exam rooms. My patients deserve access to high-quality abortion care, and they deserve the space to make those decisions based on their values, life circumstances, support system, and faith, free of government scrutiny. Although we are grateful today’s ruling allows us to provide care to some Missourians, we will continue to defend the truth: EVERY reason to have an abortion is a valid reason.”
Statement from Andrew Beck, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project: “Today’s decision affirms that abortion is still a constitutional right — and we will do everything possible to keep it that way. This fight isn’t over until everyone who needs an abortion in Missouri can get one.”
Statement from Tony Rothert, Legal Director, ACLU-Missouri: “House Bill 126 is an offensive intrusion into private medical decision-making that would have jeopardized the health and well-being of Missourians in need of abortion care. This law put politicians at the center of a deeply personal decision that belongs to a pregnant person and those they trust most: their family and health care providers — not the government. We applaud the decision of the court to uphold the Constitution and stop HB 126.”
Missouri is one of 12 states to pass an abortion ban just in the first half of this year. State politicians, emboldened by President Trump, have passed a total of 26 abortion bans nationwide in 2019 alone. With Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, anti-abortion politicians are racing to pass bills designed to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Anti-abortion politicians in Missouri have spent decades eroding reproductive health care. As a result, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is the last remaining health center in the state that still provides abortion. Gov. Parson signed this sweeping abortion ban into law while weaponizing the state’s licensing process. Parson said his goal was to make Missouri the “most pro-life state in America.”
It is not new for politicians in Missouri or elsewhere to use a combination of state laws and regulatory harassment to target abortion providers — in fact, Missouri already used similar targeting to block the only other health center in the state that provided abortions from continuing to do so in 2018. Parson’s administration forced more than 100 patients to undergo medically unnecessary pelvic exams before abruptly rescinding the requirement. That’s on top of dozens of medically unnecessary restrictions that make abortion nearly impossible to access. These restrictions include a 72-hour mandatory delay for patients accessing abortion, which forces patients to make two trips to the health center, and demanding abortion providers hold local hospital admitting privileges. This, despite the fact that support for access to abortion in America is at an all-time high — and growing.
While the state is cutting off access to abortion, maternal and reproductive health in the state is in crisis. Maternal mortality rates in Missouri are more than 50 percent higher than the national average, and a syphilis outbreak is sweeping the state. The same politicians who claim to value “life” continue to sit idly by while public health outcomes worsen.
HB 126, brought to you by:
Governor Mike Parson (r) [2018 file photo].
Wire coathangers on the fence at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City – June 2, 2019.
“…You think they’re doing this to delay the gathering of signatures? Of course they are…”
Today the Missouri Supreme Court refused to intervene in the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ruling that the Missouri ACLU’s initiative petition to reverse the anti-abortion HB 126 can move forward in the process.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (r) [2019 file photo].
Today, the Missouri Supreme Court let stand the Court of Appeals holding that Secretary of State Ashcroft acted outside his legal authority by rejecting the referendum petition on Missouri’s abortion ban. This recognition that Ashcroft acted illegally should prevent him from ever again abusing his office to derail the people’s right to challenge legislation by referendum.
Unfortunately, Ashcroft is continuing to obstruct the people’s vote by dragging his feet in his quest to deny the people a say on Missouri’s extreme 8-week abortion ban. If he acted promptly, supporters could begin to gather signatures by July 18 at the latest. But Ashcroft seems intent to slow the process so that supporters will not have enough time to collect enough signatures.
“It is no secret that Ashcroft’s agenda is banning abortion in Missouri,” says Anthony Rothert, interim Executive Director at the ACLU of Missouri. “While it is fantastic that the courts have made clear that he acted illegally, he may well succeed in preventing voters from getting their say on this important issue. Ashcroft’s tenure as Missouri’s chief election officer continues to be marked by efforts to prevent Missourians from voting.”
If Ashcroft had not illegally rejected the referendum petition, then he would have had to certify the petition for signature gathering by July 18. He will not meet that deadline, which in turn denies a meaningful opportunity to collect signatures, which must be submitted by August 28.
We reject the idea that Missourians can be denied the right to a referendum because of the unlawful action of an elected official determined to take away constitutional rights. The people kept for themselves the right of referendum to safeguard Missourians from an overzealous, out-of-touch government. No matter how they would vote on the referendum, every Missourian is harmed by Ashcroft’s abuse of this office to serve his radical anti-abortion agenda.
Our fight is not over. We continue to push Ashcroft to his job by certifying ballot language by July 18. Should he fail to do so, we will not let Missourians forget that he has taken the fate of the abortion ban away from the voters of Missouri.
Ironic isn’t it? Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (r) gets away with doing his job poorly. In Missouri republican circles that’s considered a feature, not a bug.
Let us be very clear. We are NOT cleared to gather signatures yet. Why? Secretary Ashcroft is obstructing the right to referendum.
The court ruled that Secretary Ashcroft acted illegally. He is now purposefully denying the right of the people to have a referendum.
The court is allowing Secretary Ashcroft to restart the clock and delay giving us ballot language until it could be too late to collect signatures.
That’s why we’ve appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court today.
Know this: If we are blocked from the ballot box because Secretary Ashcroft has run down the clock and given us, the people, no meaningful chance to gather 100,000 signatures by August 28th, we will continue to fight.
The ACLU will do whatever is necessary to make sure abortion remains legal in Missouri. The campaign will work to make sure reproductive rights are preserved across the state in any way it can.
The fight for reproductive rights does not rely on a single tool. We will see you in the streets, in the legislature, at the ballot box, and in the court room.
An entry today in the Missouri Court System Casenet after the Western District Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the Missouri ACLU’s initiative petition to reverse the anti-abortion HB 126 can move forward in the process.
WD82880 – AMERICAN CIVIL LIB, APEL V JOHN ASHCROFT, RES
Mot for Rehearing/Tran to SC
motion and application; Electronic Filing Certificate of Service.
Filed By: ANTHONY EDWARD ROTHERT
On Behalf Of: AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF MISSOURI, SARA E BAKER
Mot for Rehearing/Tran to SC
Respondents Ashcroft and Schmitts Motion for Rehearing, En Banc Review, or Transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court; Electronic Filing Certificate of Service.
Filed By: DEAN JOHN SAUER
On Behalf Of: JOHN ROBERT ASHCROFT, ERIC SCHMITT
You think they’re doing this to delay the gathering of signatures? Of course they are…
The Missouri State Auditor’s Office today released a statement regarding action by the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals. An opinion, issued today, compels Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Eric Schmitt to perform their duties under the law on a proposed referendum related to HB 126, which was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson on May 24. The State Auditor’s Office announced on June 7 that work on the fiscal note and fiscal note summary was moving forward.
“Even as this issue has been working through the courts, the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has continued our work to complete the fiscal note and fiscal note summary. As is clear in the opinion, the State Auditor’s Office fulfilled its obligation under the law. Auditor Galloway believes Missourians deserve to be heard.”