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Leaked Supreme Court opinion polarizes Missouri

by Joe Gamm, Ella McCarthy | May 4, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Catherine Betz holds up a sign during a Pro-Choice Missouri rally on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at the Missouri State Capitol Building. “Abortion is essential healthcare,” Betz said. “It is important that all families have that as one of their options … I want to live in a state where everyone has access to that healthcare.” (Ethan Weston/News Tribune photo)

Missouri pro-life supporters' confidence soared Tuesday after a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision came to light.

A draft opinion revealing a possible U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion was released Monday evening in a Politico report.

State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon, a strong pro-life advocate, may see his vision of an abortion-free Missouri develop through his 2019 law.

If the Supreme Court overturns the landmark case, it would lead to abortion bans in many states, including Missouri, officials have said.

In 2019, Gov. Mike Parson signed Schroer's phased abortion ban (House Bill 126) into law.

One of the many provisions included a "trigger-law" that would ban abortions in the state if Roe v. Wade were overturned, unless a mother's health is in danger.

"I think you're going to see the attorney general writing a decision to the revisor of statutes indicating that that trigger bill should go into effect, which would prohibit abortions in the state of Missouri except for in instances of the health of the mother," Schroer said Tuesday.

Midwest March for Life Director Kathy Forck said media reports of abortion advocates marching on the U.S. Supreme Court building showed how frightened those advocates are.

"They are hoping they might be able to scare one of the justices into changing their opinion," Forck said. "There's a lot of activity out there."

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt tweeted Tuesday, "I'm encouraged by the draft opinion & it's consistent with the briefs we've submitted to the court calling for Roe v Wade to be overturned. If Roe is overturned I'm prepared to immediately issue the opinion protecting the unborn in Missouri."

The draft opinion, released Monday, strongly suggests when the justices met in private shortly after arguments in the case Dec. 1, at least five voted to overrule Roe and Casey, and Alito was assigned the task of writing the court's majority opinion, the Associated Press has reported.

Currently, the only licensed abortion provider in the state is Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.

"We knew this opinion was coming and while it's not official, it brings us one step closer to an impending public health crisis," Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said in a news release. "For now, patients seeking abortion care in Missouri and Illinois, can and should continue to show up for your appointments -- abortion remains legal today. No matter what, with our partners, we will fight for what little is left of abortion access in Missouri and push forward to expand in Illinois where abortion access is protected beyond Roe."

The Missouri GOP shared their support for the possible U.S. Supreme Court decision in a news release Tuesday.

"Despite the unprecedented circumstances of a wrongfully leaked Supreme Court opinion, the expected result of this case is historic and a huge win for life. When Roe v Wade is overturned, it will a celebratory day for all those who have worked to get the disastrous Roe v Wade decision reversed," the news release said.

Other lawmakers, including U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, Missouri's 3rd Congressional District, have shared their support for the possible decision, following Politico's release of the document.

"We've lost more than 60 million lives since Roe v. Wade," Luetkemeyer said in a news release. "That tragic decision is the epitome of legislating from the bench -- going against the lawmaking process specifically laid out in the Constitution. Justice Alito's draft opinion not only restores the Constitutional rights of our citizens and the legislative process, it would give millions of children a chance to live the life God intended."

Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the pro-abortion rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute, the Associated Press has reported.

M'Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood of Missouri, said women are already crossing the state line to receive abortions in Illinois.

"There are very few abortions taking place in Missouri right now," she said. "And that's been happening in Missouri for years. They're already pushing people across the state lines. This is what we've long known is coming -- but will serve as a wake-up call for people who haven't been paying attention and need to engage on this issue now."

Just last week, Forck said, she helped a woman outside the Columbia Planned Parenthood choose life. The woman's boyfriend stood in the background and glared at her, Forck said.

"It's a little more difficult to make when the person who should be supporting you, the other parent, is not. She definitely wanted to choose life," Forck said. "We need to get back to family values. Life is a gift and a blessing."

In a joint statement from Congress' top two Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, "If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years -- not just on women but on all Americans."

Votes and opinions in a case aren't final until a decision is announced or, in a change wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, posted on the court's website, the Associated Press reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

See also:

Supreme Court draft opinion could throw out Roe v. Wade ruling

Possible overturning of Roe sends abortion fight to states

Print Headline: Leaked Supreme Court opinion polarizes Missouri


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