Missouri Dems seek contraception, ectopic pregnancy session

July 11, 2022 GMT

Two leading Democratic Missouri lawmakers on Monday asked the state’s Republican governor to call a special session to pass legislation that would safeguard contraception and medical treatment for ectopic pregnancies after a near total ban on abortion was instituted.

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo of Independence and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade of Springfield wrote in a letter to Gov. Mike Parson that medical and legal experts have “expressed concern and confusion” since the state law banning abortion except in “cases of medical emergency” took effect last month.

Most notably, a large Missouri hospital chain briefly stopped providing emergency contraception, fearing that doctors who provide the medication could be at risk of criminal charges, even in cases of sexual assault.

Quade said in a phone interview that constituents have called “fearful of whether or not they can get their birth control, if they can get the morning after pill. What do they do with their IVF treatments, ectopic pregnancy, etc. You know, there’s still a lot of confusion around what the actual law means in the state of Missouri in terms of who can be prosecuted and what is covered.”

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Parson had already said he plans to call a special session to deal with tax cuts, and the Democrats want abortion added to the agenda to provide clarity. A spokeswoman for Parson did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

“If he’s wanting to call us back into Jefferson City for something like that, I believe that when it comes to the health care and safety of individuals in Missouri, that there is no better reason to be doing a special session,” Quade said.

Quade noted that lawmakers previously asked Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt for guidance but haven’t heard back. She described the special session as “the logical next step for us.”

The request comes just days after a federal appeals court issued a ruling allowing a prohibition on abortions based solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis to take effect. At issue is a law adopted in 2019 that bans abortions at the eighth week of pregnancy.

The ruling, however, has no practical effect because of the near-total abortion ban instituted in Missouri June 24, the day the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling removing federal protections for abortion rights.

Schmitt praised the appeals court ruling in a statement Monday, saying people with Down syndrome “bring joy, love, and light.”