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Missouri and abortions post-Roe: What you need to know

Abortion in Missouri is now legal only in cases of medical emergency.

MISSOURI, USA — The United States Supreme Court voted in a 5-4 majority to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey in a landmark decision handed down Friday

Abortions in Missouri will now be illegal in all cases except those of medical emergencies, which would be to save the life of the pregnant person.

In 2019, “The Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act,” or 188.017 RSMo, was passed into Missouri law. This law is the abortion trigger law in Missouri. Missouri Governor Mike Parson passed an emergency proclamation Friday morning effectively activating 188.017 RSMo. 

A “medical emergency” defined in Missouri laws means that if the person did not immediately receive an abortion, they would die or otherwise have “serious risk of substation and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” according to the law.

Missouri law does not guarantee the right to abortion in cases of incest or rape.

Under 188.017 RSMo, anyone who knowingly performs an abortion on a pregnant person under any circumstance except medical emergency will be guilty of a class B felony, which is punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison.

It’s important to know, however, that a person who gets an abortion in the state of Missouri will not be prosecuted. That person also cannot be charged with conspiracy to violate the law.

It is also up to the prosecuting attorney of each individual Missouri county under something called prosecutor diversion, to determine whether a physician will be charged for performing an abortion. In St. Louis City, it is the Circuit Attorney’s job. The Missouri Attorney General has the power to step in and prosecute physicians performing abortions if the prosecuting attorney wishes to not move along with charges.

Another section of Missouri law, 188.021 codified into law since 2017, requires that any person wishing to take an abortion-inducing drug or chemical like Mifepristone, must take the initial dose in the presence of the physician who prescribed the drug or chemical. The law also specifies that the person receiving the abortion must return to that physician for a follow-up appointment after the initial dose.

To learn more about abortion in Missouri, you can click here to read the rest of Chapter 188, the section of Missouri law regulating abortions.

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