Missouri Lawmakers Send Sweeping Omnibus Anti-Choice Bill to Governor

“The notion that this session has any benefit for patients’ health and safety is nonsense, and Missourians are smart enough to know that."

Missouri Republicans this week pushed through more bills designed to erode access to abortion care. Shutterstock

Missouri lawmakers on Tuesday passed a massive omnibus anti-choice bill that will create more abortion restrictions in a state that has some of the most restrictive laws in the United States.

Gov. Eric Greitens (R) last month called a special session of the state legislature and directed lawmakers to pass new abortion restrictions under the auspices of protecting the “health and safety of women.”

Lawmakers voted to approve a bill after weeks of delays and disagreements increasing restrictions on abortion care. The passage of the bill is reportedly an attempt to replace medically unnecessary clinic regulations blocked by a federal court, and prevent Planned Parenthood from opening new clinics in Columbia, Springfield, and Joplin.

Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, said in a statement that Greitens has been “wasting time and taxpayer dollars” as part of a cynical political calculation to ingratiate himself with GOP primary voters.

“Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with protecting women and everything to do with ripping away access to constitutionally protected health care,” Dreith said. “This entire emergency session was nothing more than free advertising for Greitens’ personal political ambitions, where women were treated as pawns to satisfy his desire for higher office.”

SB 5, sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester), includes provisions that restrict access to abortion care such as creating requirements for tissue reports, employee disclosure policies, inspections of abortion facilities, and circumventing policies of local governments.

It remains unclear if provisions in the bill targeting so-called abortion sanctuary cities, which prohibit discrimination based on reproductive health decision, will have the effect lawmakers claim.

Greitens, who was attending a confab for GOP governors in Aspen, Colorado, while lawmakers were in session in Jefferson City, released a statement that praised the bill’s passage.

“Today is a great victory for pregnancy care centers that help women and children all over the state,” Greitens said. “I’m proud that many of Missouri’s lawmakers stood strong to protect the lives of the innocent unborn and women’s health.”

M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, said in a statement that the state’s laws are already some of the most restrictive in the country and that federal courts have blocked similar anti-choice laws.

“This political theater is an expensive and ideological ploy to end abortion access in the state,” Mead said. “The notion that this session has any benefit for patients’ health and safety is nonsense, and Missourians are smart enough to know that.”

The legislation has been delivered to the governor for his signature, and is scheduled to take effect 90 days after passage on October 23.