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As SCOTUS considers Mississippi abortion law, Missouri electeds hold pro-life rally

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Pro-life advocates and Missouri officials gathered in Jefferson City Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on an abortion law that could have wide-reaching ramifications for Missouri and the nation.

The nation’s highest court took the first round of debate over a Mississippi law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks. Lawmakers and advocates say approval of the law would essentially overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case, which set the standard 24-week window in federal abortion policy. 

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft joined dozens for a rally in support of overturning Roe v. Wade at the Missouri Supreme Court, urging pro-life advocates to continue their push as the future of abortion law is decided. 

“I pray that the U.S. Supreme Court makes the right decision, but while it may decide what is constitutional and what is not, it does not decide what is moral and what is right and what is just,” Ashcroft said. “We need to continue to stand up. We’ve made the difference in Missouri, but there’s work to be done.”

Rep. Nick Schroer, who sponsored legislation that banned abortions in Missouri after eight weeks, also spoke at the rally. That 2019 law was halted the day before it would have gone into effect after the state’s sole abortion provider sued. Arguments in that case took place in September before the full Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, largely focused on a provision in the law preventing abortions based on a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. 

“Many of the problems we addressed in that bill are applicable to what we’re dealing with today in D.C.,” Schroer said. “There is so much more work that needs to be done, from dismemberment bills to fully defunding Planned Parenthood of our tax dollars.”

Rep. Nick Schroer joined pro-life advocates at the Missouri Supreme Court to support overturning Roe v. Wade on Dec. 1, 2021. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

Representatives from Campaign Life Missouri, Concerned Women for America, and Missouri Right to Life also spoke at the event which coincided with the first day of pre-filing. Multiple bills have been filed by lawmakers on either side of the aisle pertaining to abortion already Wednesday. 

Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said the organization was watching the case and preparing for a future without Roe v. Wade in place. 

“The Mississippi case could unravel what little is left of abortion access in states across the country,” Rodríguez said in a statement. “People who walk into our health centers for abortion services come to us as an act of basic health care, not politics. That’s what we’re collectively fighting for — basic rights and freedoms, including the right to decide if and when to become a parent, for all people no matter who they are, how much money they earn, or where they live.”

Missouri officials, including Gov. Mike Parson and members of the state’s congressional delegation, have urged the high court to side with Mississippi in the case and allow states to exercise control over abortion policies. 

Overturning Roe v. Wade could have major ramifications in Missouri. State officials would have the authority to prohibit abortions except in cases of medical emergency under a provision in the state constitution triggered by a potential reversal. The ban could be enacted through a proclamation by the governor, a decision by the attorney general, or a concurrent resolution passed by the General Assembly. 

Although a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t expected for several months, early reports suggested justices appeared willing to uphold Mississippi’s law.

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