Missouri’s 2017 abortion law is as harsh as they get

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has gone out of his way to make things as difficult as possible for women seeking reproductive health services and abortions. Before last week, Missouri’s restrictive laws had already reduced abortion services to one location in the entire state. But that wasn’t enough for Greitens. He called a special session of the Missouri legislature specifically to deal with abortion issues—and specifically  to make things worse—and  the legislature obliged.

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens has said he called the special session on abortion in reaction to the St. Louis ordinance banning discrimination in employment and housing based on “reproductive health decisions” and a federal judge’s ruling that struck down some Missouri abortion restrictions passed in previous legislative sessions.

The ruling, which the state is appealing, tossed out requirements that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and that clinics meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.  Greitens wants lawmakers to enact other restrictions on clinics in place of those that were struck down.

Here’s what he got in the special session: The latest piece of legislation in Missouri encompasses a long list of new, even harsher regulations. Judge for yourself.

The Missouri legislature has now passed a bill that:

  • Allows the state attorney general, not just local prosecutors, to prosecute
    abortion-law violations
  • Requires doctors—not nurses, nurse practitioners or other medical
    personal—to explain potential medical risks to women 72 hours before they
    can obtain an abortion
  • Establishes surprise, annual inspections of abortion clinics
  • Establishes whistle-blower protections for employees of abortion clinics
  • Bars local governments from passing ordinances that adversely affect alternative-to-abortion pregnancy centers—the ones that, nationwide, tell women lies and omit information needed for them to make good decisions about their reproductive health.

Of course, these new restrictions will be challenged in court. We can only hope that they will be struck down. They are shockingly harsh. But what is not shocking is the unrelenting effort by Missouri legislators—and now the newly elected Missouri Governor—to go out of their way to block women from exercising their lawful right to make their own health decisions—a right that has been guaranteed by the US Supreme Court since 1973.  Missouri has many problems: This is the one they go to special session on?