Pro-choice supporters not ready to resign abortion debate in Missouri

A few dozen pro-choice supporters at the Capitol on Sunday, June 26, 2022, were protesting the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. With a trigger ban in place, Missouri became the first state to outlaw abortions following the high court's decision, but rally-goers said the debate is not settled in Missouri. (Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo)

Pro-choice advocates said the abortion debate isn't settled in Missouri and took to the state Capitol on Sunday to make it known.

Following a watershed decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the nearly 50-year precedent established by Roe V. Wade, Missouri became the first state to outlaw abortion.

Missouri's 2019 law, known as the "Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act," included a trigger ban on abortions that went into effect with the collapse of the federal court precedent. The state ban makes no exceptions for rape or incest. Medical emergencies that threaten a pregnant person's life or substantially risk physical impairment are only exceptions.

Protesters on Sunday carried signs and chanted messages such as, "Hey mister mister, get your laws off my sister."

Jen Kruse, 41, of Tipton, often led the group chants and said she wants to fight to protect a women's right to choose family planning services. She said the issue is not settled in Missouri.

"Women make up 50 percent of the population and you better get ready to go, because we are," Kruse said. "We are engaged. We are active," she continued. "You might win for the moment, but this is just going to drive women out. We're going to vote."

Kruse has two daughters and said she hopes the fight she puts up will allow them to one day choose what family planning services best suit them. She said the recent restrictions to abortion rights will encourage more women to vote and run for office. Pro-choice supporters are fired up, she said.

"Saddle up, ladies," Kruse said. "Let's do this long haul."

Riley Glissendorf, 19, traveled to the Capital City from the Lake of the Ozarks to join the protest because she wanted to make her disagreement with the Supreme Court's decision heard.

Voting matters, Glissendorf said, and she thinks the overturning of Roe V. Wade is an "unfortunate, super bad wake up call that had to happen," to make people realize it.

Glissendorf said access to abortion services is an issue supporters cannot let go. If they tolerate the loss of rights, it'll only get worse, she said.

"Abortion is healthcare," Glissendorf said. "It's not a decision that the government should be involved in and it's so unfortunate that it's become political when it's literally just science and it should be a woman having a conversation with her doctor and that should be behind closed doors."

Upon outlawing abortions in Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson touted the proclamation as an accomplishment created through decades of conservative leadership. He said he was happy the U.S. Supreme Court returned the power to regulate abortion to the states.

"Thanks to decades of conservative leaders, Missouri has become one of the most pro-life states in the nation, and our Administration has always fought for the life of every unborn child," he said in a news release Friday. "Today, our efforts have produced what generations of Missourians have worked and prayed for: Today, we have won our fight to protect innocent life."

Ashes Hanks, 16, of Jefferson City, attended the Sunday protest and said she is frustrated with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe V. Wade because of its wide-ranging consequences.

Quick action from state officials to celebrate the decision and enact Missouri's trigger ban illustrate one side's support, Hanks said, but most of the people in her circles are appalled.

"I know that I know a lot of people who feel that it's not right and it should not be something that should even be contested right now because of how important it is for it to be accessible to many people," she said.

Hanks said the decision restricts a right to privacy and could have sweeping consequences for other social issues.

She said she's not sure how to engage lawmakers to continue the debate in Missouri.

"Personally for me, I would want them to actually listen to the people," she said.

Emma Brandt, 21, of Jefferson City, has a 9-month old daughter and said she's fighting for both of their right to choose family planning options.

"Honestly, I probably shouldn't have become a mom as young as I did, but I did choose to have her and she shouldn't be forced into making a decision or not even necessarily making a decision, but be forced into having a pregnancy that she doesn't want," Brandt said. "I just think everyone should have a right to choose."

Brandt, who was adopted, said she was raised pro-life for the first 17 years of her life but realized pregnancies can be difficult and access to social services can vary. Her own pregnancy was brutal, she said.

Brandt said she's worried Republican political leaders in the state won't be open to a continued conversation about abortion, but she wants to continue engaging with the debate through protests and organized action.

"I am worried that it is a settled issue, but I'm hoping we can change that," she said.


In the accompanying video, pro-choice advocates contend the abortion debate isn’t settled in Missouri as they take to the state Capitol on Sunday, June 26, 2022, to make it known.

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