Missouri state Senate Republicans took time away from their filibustering of one another to vote down two Democratic-led amendments to the state’s draconian abortion laws that would have allowed exceptions for rape and incest on Wednesday. In 2022, the Republican-led Missouri legislature passed strict laws banning abortion. The only exceptions at this point are to save the pregnant person's life or protect the pregnant person’s physical health.
Democratic state Sen. Tracy McCreery, who does not support the ban, argued that the least lawmakers could do for victims of rape and incest was give them the choice. “Their privacy was violated. And now we’re saying that the government is going to force them to give birth to a child.” She asked Republicans to “show an ounce of compassion.” Clearly, they could not. Republican Sen. Rick Brattin described abortion as being the same as slavery. The anti-abortion Republican argued, “If you want to go after the rapist, let’s give him the death penalty. Absolutely, let’s do it.”
The amendments came in a debate over Republican state Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman’s SB 1168 bill, which would make it “unlawful for any public funds to be expended to any abortion facility, or to any affiliate associate of such abortion facility.” In layman’s terms, it would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements.
Coleman is something of a right-wing fanatic, voting to prohibit gender-affirming medical care, banning transgender athletes from playing sports, and voting against mail-in ballots during the height of the pandemic.
As the Missouri Independent points out, Planned Parenthood has received zero state money for almost two years now. The two Planned Parenthoods in the state do not even perform abortions at this point, but do provide other important health services:
State Sen. Lauren Arthur, a Democrat from Kansas City, reminded the committee that if Planned Parenthood received a Medicaid reimbursement, it would not be going to fund abortions. The organization’s clinics also provide other reproductive health care, such as cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment and contraceptives.
Missouri Republicans were unable to move the bill through on Wednesday, even though they continue to enjoy a supermajority stranglehold over the state legislature. Democratic Sen. Greg Razer wondered how his GOP counterparts in the state Senate rationalized their laws, pointing out that their position is the refusal to show compassion to a 9-year-old girl who is raped and forced to give birth: “What they’re arguing is intellectually indefensible. It makes no sense. And it’s morally indefensible.”
Republican Sen. Mike Moon took time away from defending child marriage to spend “12 minutes listing well-known people conceived through rape or incest after suggesting authorities shoot or castrate rapists.” And fellow Republican Sen. Sandy Crawford offered up this grotesque view of spirituality: “God is perfect. God does not make mistakes. And for some reason he allows that to happen. Bad things happen.”
Republicans across the country have been trying to figure out ways to either hide or finesse their deeply unpopular attacks on more than half the country’s rights. Missouri lawmakers seem to just be doubling down, calling for additional punishments for abortion providers—such as the death penalty. Meanwhile, Missouri Republicans’ plan seems to be to silence the voices of the majority of their constituents by making it harder to pass popular vote amendments protecting citizens’ rights to their bodies.
Disinformation is a growing problem in American politics, but combating it in Latino media poses its own special challenges. Joining us on this week's episode of "The Downballot" is Roberta Braga, founder of the Digital Democracy Institute of the Americas, a new organization devoted to tackling disinformation and building resiliency in Latino communities. Braga explains how disinformation transcends borders but also creates opportunities for people in the U.S. to import new solutions from Latin America. She also underscores the importance of fielding Latino candidates and their unique ability to address the issue.