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Report: MO Women's Reproductive Freedom "Severely Restricted"

Missouri is one of 26 states that a new report describes as "severely restricting" women's rights to reproductive health care. (cdc.gov)
Missouri is one of 26 states that a new report describes as "severely restricting" women's rights to reproductive health care. (cdc.gov)
January 19, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri may be in line with many other states on reproductive rights, but new research suggests it is out of step with the views of women.

A 50-state report released by NARAL Pro-Choice America listed Missouri among 26 states where access to reproductive health care is "severely restricted," as 97 percent of its counties don't have abortion clinics. But the group's National Political Director Joel Foster said Missouri's anti-abortion governor and legislature do not reflect the overall views of the public.

"Based on the extensive research that we've done, seven in ten Americans support keeping abortion legal,” Foster said. "That's not just a majority - that's a consensus. And that consensus includes people from all parts of the country, and of all political leanings."

Missouri lawmakers pre-filed 14 anti-abortion bills for this legislative session, including a "personhood" bill, religious liberty protections for crisis pregnancy centers, measures to block fetal tissue research, a chemical endangerment bill, and a bill that would require burial of tissue after a pregnancy is terminated, similar to legislation passed last year in Indiana and Texas.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said the report findings highlight the uncertain future of reproductive freedom in the United States if President-elect Donald Trump appoints Supreme Court justices who oppose Roe v. Wade. The case was decided 44 years ago this week.

"Women in this country are just living life in impossible paradoxes, all because anti-choice politicians believe that they should impose their ideology on the rest of us, and refuse to provide women the freedom and support to live our independent lives,” Hogue said.

There are serious concerns about Trump's nomination of Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia to run the Department of Health and Human Services, Hogue said. Price has supported many anti-choice measures, including a ban on federal health coverage of abortions.

"[There are] some anti-choice politicians who sort of go with the flow, and there are some who really feel this in their gut - and Tom Price appears to be the latter,” she said. "He spent the vast majority of his time in Congress actually substituting his own ideology for the judgment of his own constituents."

The report says 16 states and the District of Columbia enacted 30 pro-choice measures in 2016.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO