Grietens, Planned Parenthood host opposing rallies to bolster support for special session

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – Two rallies at the Missouri Capitol exemplified the stark divide in the state of Missouri on abortion rights. One rally, led by Planned Parenthood and abortion access advocates, decried the continued call for more abortion regulations in one of the most restrictive states for the practice in the nation. The other, led by Gov. Eric Greitens and anti-abortion advocates, stressed the need for abortion regulations to end what they see as an inhumane practice.

Both rallies, however, had similar turnouts of over 200 Missourians coming out on a Wednesday to support their given causes. Both had speakers who touted the benefits of their chosen organizations – the anti-abortion rally praised crisis pregnancy centers for their work assisting women with unexpected pregnancies and the abortion advocacy rally praised groups like Planned Parenthood for the reproductive health care they provide.

The pro-life group wore red in unison, while the pro-choice group wore pink.

Greitens stressed during his speech that the special session he called was necessary to protect alternatives-to-abortion facilities in St. Louis who could be forced to hire abortion advocates because of an ordinance that adds protections for reproductive choices to their anti-discrimination law.

“We are proud to be pro-life,” Greitens said. “We want to protect life, we want to defend life and we want to promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri.”

Dave Plemmons, the chair of the Missouri Right to Life PAC, said Greitens’ call for a special session and rally to fight against the practice of abortion could help show legislators how important the issue is to their constituents.

“Our goal is to make sure that pro-life voices are heard from all corners of the state, that the legislature and General Assembly can see that they are being supported by the people back home,” Plemmons said. “When it comes to pro-life issues and pro-life advocacy, it’s very important for people to come out and let their senators know how they feel, whether by phone or by email or by showing up in person at events like this.”

Plemmons added the extraordinary session was especially necessary because the General Assembly did not pass any measures related to abortion during the regular session, except in the budget.

At the other rally, held earlier in the day, Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said that the large turnout for their own event (which filled the Capitol Rotunda) showed people were “fed up” with continued abortion regulations.

Signs at an abortion advocacy rally in the Capitol. (Travis Zimpfer/THE MISSOURI TIMES)

Signs at an abortion advocacy rally in the Capitol. (Travis Zimpfer/THE MISSOURI TIMES)

“We have over 200 Missourians here that have come from all corners of the state to resist Gov. Eric Greitens’ agenda against women,” Lee-Gilmore said. “This is just another example that we can list that taxpayers and voters are coming out in droves to tell their elected officials that this is not the road they want their elected officials to go down.

Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, added that of the bills offered by legislators, some were completely new, and others had not made it through the legislative process. She accused Greitens of politicking with taxpayer money.

“The governor, I can’t recall any time he talked to the press or was lobbying for any of these bills,” she said. “He’s misusing his power and basically taxpayers are spending $20,000 a day so he can continue to campaign.”

With a stalled Senate that did not convene as of press time, nine hours after they were slotted to do so, it remains to be seen whether Greitens’ special session will ultimately be as successful as he wishes.

Kaden Quinn contributed to this article.

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