States across the country are introducing and passing legislation to limit abortion access. The moves in Republican majority states follow the passing of a Mississippi law, which is currently making its way to the Supreme Court. The law has the ability to limit abortion rights across the country by overturning Roe v. Wade. The most recent state to join those seeking to backtrack women’s rights is Missouri.
Missouri lawmakers are taking restricting abortion to the next level: They are not only stopping residents from obtaining abortions in state, but suggesting that those who travel in order to obtain them also be subject to lawsuits.
State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman proposed a measure that would make performing an abortion on a Missouri resident—or even helping a Missouri resident get one—illegal. A similar law was passed in Texas, in which citizens were granted the ability to enforce the law through lawsuits.
“If your neighboring state doesn’t have pro-life protections, it minimizes the ability to protect the unborn in your state,” Coleman told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
According to the Post, Coleman’s measure would “target anyone even tangentially involved in an abortion performed on a Missouri resident, including the hotline staffers who make the appointments, the marketing representatives who advertise out-of-state clinics, and the Illinois- and Kansas-based doctors who handle the procedure. Her amendment also would make it illegal to manufacture, transport, possess, or distribute abortion pills in Missouri.”
Because the state has ended most surgical abortions, many women are traveling to Kansas or Illinois to seek care. Additionally, while the state has a ban on abortion after eight weeks, the state cannot enforce the ban while a legal challenge to the restriction makes its way through federal court. Coleman hopes abortion ends not just in Missouri but throughout the entire country. In 2021, Missouri only had one clinic in the entire state.
But Coleman isn’t the only GOP lawmaker in the state who has drastic penalties planned for those who have or help others with abortions.
During the debate for his bill that would make it a felony offense to transport or make available “abortion-inducing devices or drugs” in the Missouri, state Rep. Brian Seitz not only advocated for prison time for those in favor of abortion, but mentioned the death penalty. Seitz noted that he felt his proposal was not “strict enough” and would leave the conversation open in regard to implementing the death penalty for people facilitating abortions.
Although this may be shocking to hear, it’s not the first time a GOP lawmaker has expressed similar thoughts. In Texas, a lawmaker filed a bill that would not only abolish and criminalize abortions but leave those who perform the procedure to face criminal charges that could carry the death penalty.
Of course, like with other laws restricting abortions, there is a lack of exceptions. In this case, a greater penalty is placed on individuals who help people with ectopic pregnancies get abortion-inducing medication. According to the Mayo Clinic, “an ectopic pregnancy can cause your fallopian tube to burst open. Without treatment, the ruptured tube can lead to life-threatening bleeding.”
While these measures have the chance of being defeated, the impact remains. Many attorneys believe that the threat of the proposal alone may cause doctors in nearby states to stop performing abortions on Missouri residents.
But that is not the only issue to arise in Missouri. According to The Missouri Independent, lawmakers also introduced an amendment to a bill that creates a sexual assault survivors bill of rights in which “obscene” material would be criminalized in schools. The amendment is expected to derail the sexual assault survivors bill.