JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Each year, the issue of abortion remains a hotly-contested item in the Missouri Legislature, and this year is no exception, as one lawmaker has returned a measure seeking to outlaw all abortion in Missouri.
Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, has once again filed his “personhood” legislation in the Missouri House, seeking a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot. Moon presented his legislation to the Committee on Children and Families on Tuesday night, the final piece of legislation presented in a three-hour-long hearing.
The controversial “personhood” legislation, this year appearing under HJR 18, seeks to grant rights from the moment of conception, establishing that an embryo is a person.
Moon recited Section 2 of the State Constitution, which states that “all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.”
Moon argues that the first line, which ensures a natural right to life, is all that is needed to prove that abortions are unconstitutional.
Under the resolution, all abortion would be banned in Missouri, including in cases of rape, incest, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother.
Opponents of the resolution came forward, saying that, besides “criminalizing” abortion, it would ban commonly-used forms of birth control, including the pill and the IUD.
M’Evie Mead, a Planned Parenthood advocate, called the legislation a “serious government intrusion,” saying it was the government trying to tell a woman, her family, and her doctor what they can or can’t do.
The resolution appears in Missouri at a time when other state legislatures are moving forward with anti-abortion legislation.
Oklahoma currently is working on legislation that would require a pregnant woman to get the consent of her sexual partner in order to obtain an abortion. Texas legislators on Wednesday heard testimony on a measure seeking to ban “partial-birth abortions,” while South Dakota’s statehouse passed a measure this week increasing penalties on abortions performed after 19 weeks of pregnancy. Pennsylvania’s Senate passed a measure blocking abortions after 20 weeks.
Yet, no state has passed a so-called personhood law. In fact, other proposed personhood measures have been rejected by Colorado, Mississippi and North Dakota, calling the measures too extreme. Colorado and Mississippi did manage to put the measure to a vote, which was rejected in both states.
Moon wants Missouri to take the first step forward and challenge Roe v. Wade, regardless of what other states are doing.
“Personhood efforts may have failed in other states, but using this logic, we should have abandoned efforts to put a man on the moon,” Moon said during Tuesday night’s hearing. “Missouri is the Show-Me State. The General Assembly recognized that life begins at conception back in 1986, and we must not stop, due to the failures or successes of other states.”
Moon finished by saying that he looks forward to moving forward with the legislation, and hopes to have the committee vote on it the following week.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.