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Protesters at Missouri Capitol seek to end bans on abortion

by Joe Gamm | May 22, 2019 at 4:07 a.m. | Updated May 22, 2019 at 4:09 a.m.
"Stop the Bans" rally-goers stand outside the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday as they protest the ban on abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, which Missouri lawmakers passed last week.

About 30 Missouri men and women in Jefferson City joined a nationwide protest at noon Tuesday.

The "Stop the Bans" rally-goers stood on the sidewalk outside the Missouri state Capitol, protesting lawmakers' decision to pass one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States.

On Friday, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a ban on abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy - when a fetal heartbeat is detected - and sent the bill to Gov. Mike Parson's desk.

That is too early in a pregnancy for women to even know they are pregnant, critics say.

With the passage, Missouri became the eighth state this year to pass strict abortion bans, joining Ohio, Utah, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Lawmakers admit the bans are intended to spur direct challenges to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court creating protections for women seeking abortions.

The Missouri measure is known as the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act.

Chris Riddle, the 20-year-old St. Louis woman who organized the protest in Jefferson City, said thousands of women across the country joined together to protest this year's surge in attempted abortion bans. Riddle said she would have joined protests in St. Louis but wanted to be in the Capital City, where the legislation was written.

"I didn't see anything happening in Jefferson City. I wanted to come up here, where everything happened," Riddle said. "I wanted to come up there and get it out there because this is where (the Legislature) actually is."

For more than 45 years, the Supreme Court decision has been the law of the land, Riddle said.

But Parson placing his signature on the bill is imminent, protesters said.

"It is ridiculous that we are going back on 40 years of precedent. We want to get the word out to as many people as we can," Riddle said.

The protesters on Tuesday said decision making about abortions should be left up to women individually. They said lawmakers' religious views should not dictate whether women have the right to make that decision.

The group held up signs, that - among other things - said "Not your body," "Women's rights are human rights," "Females strike back" and "Abortion is a right."

They chanted "My body, my choice," "Keep your theology off my biology," "When politicians lie, people die," and other slogans.

Laws being made in Jefferson City don't reflect the views of everybody in the state, Brett Barry, of St. Louis, said.

"I think the ban is an attack on women," said Jan Kircher, of Jefferson City. "(Limiting) female reproductive rights is the first attack."

The bans are meant to "keep women in their place," she said.

Marcy Anderson, of Sunrise Beach, said she has three daughters and worries the Legislature is limiting their rights.

Unless the lawmakers are women, she said, they should not pass laws that limit their decisions on abortion.

For the lone exception to the ban - that the life of the mother was at stake - her doctor still needs to prove that the pregnancy threatened the mother's life.

Anderson said she had an abortion in a situation where either her life or the baby's would have to be spared.

"I had a late-term abortion," Anderson said. "Unless you've been in that position, don't judge."


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