Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s Decision Impact on Missouri
Post Date: June 24, 2022
On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the prior decision from Roe v. Wade that held that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion. This decision effectively ends the almost 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion in the U.S., largely leaving abortion rights up to the individual states.
Missouri’s 2019 abortion law contained a “trigger” provision that would immediately ban abortion in Missouri after an action by the Attorney General, Governor, or State Legislature. The same day as the Supreme Court’s ruling, Missouri’s Attorney General released an opinion and Missouri’s Governor sent out a proclamation both of which activated Missouri’s trigger law and banned all abortions in Missouri, with no exception for rape or incest. The only exceptions are for medical emergencies that threaten the life of the pregnant person or “create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
Here is what we do know: Abortion care is no longer provided in Missouri, however, patients from Missouri may seek abortion services in other states – including Illinois and Kansas. Birth control and other types of contraception, including IUDs and Plan B, are not abortifacients and are not restricted under current Missouri law. Currently, patients who seek abortions should not be prosecuted under Missouri law, however, the law is unclear in regard to some types of abortion care. Patients should contact their local clinic for more information or call the All Options Talkline – 1-888-493-0092.
Every day, Missouri’s advocates see the trauma caused by the loss of control over survivors’ bodies after they have experienced violence. They are witness to the limiting or removing of survivors’ privacy and autonomy and how it further traumatizes survivors of rape and abuse by removing their ability to make choices for themselves.
Pregnancy can increase a person’s vulnerability to intimate partner abuse, and abusive partners often exercise reproductive coercion over their victims. Survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) who experience reproductive coercion are less likely to be able to make decisions about family planning and contraception because of the dynamics of power and control present in abusive relationships. Unplanned pregnancies increase the risk of IPV, and IPV increases the risk of unplanned pregnancies.
Approximately, 1 in 5 young women reported experiencing pregnancy coercion, and 1 in 7 reported experiencing active interference with contraception 1. 25-50% of adolescent mothers experience intimate partner violence before, during, or just after their pregnancy 2. As many as one-quarter of women of reproductive age accessing healthcare providers for sexual and reproductive health services report a history of experiencing reproductive coercion at some point in their lifetime 3,4. Reproductive and pregnancy coercion is an all too common form of intimate partner sexual assault.
Maternal health is also negatively affected in states where abortion access is limited. According to a 2022 report from the Commonwealth Fund, in 2020 maternal death rates in abortion-restricted states were 62 percent higher than states with abortion access. Additionally, maternal deaths in abortion-restrictive states were reportedly higher in every major racial or ethnic group5.
Our legislative history includes advocating for marital rape to be a crime, advocating that domestic violence not be considered a pre-existing condition to deny insurance coverage, supporting the inclusion of consent, sexual harassment, and assault information in sex education programming in schools; and endorsing the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative. Our public policy work is rooted in providing options to survivors and working to prevent violence before it ever occurs.
1.National Crime Victimization Survey. (2005). https://bjs.ojp.gov/library/publications/criminal-victimization-2005-revised
2. Leiderman, S. & Almo, C. (2001). Interpersonal violence and adolescent pregnancy: Prevalence and implications for practice and policy. Washington, DC: Healthy Teen Network. https://osbha.org/files/Interpersonal%20Violence%20and%20Pregnancy.pdf
3. Tarzia, L. & Hagerty, K. (2021). A conceptual re-evaulation of reproductive coercion: Centering intent, fear and control. https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12978-021-01143-6
4. Rowlands, S. & Walker, S. (2019). Reproductive control by others: Means, perpetrators and effects. BMJ Sex Reprod Health. (45) 61–7. https://srh.bmj.com/content/45/1/61
5.Eugene Declercq et al., The U.S. Maternal Health Divide: The Limited Maternal Health Services and Worse Outcomes of States Proposing New Abortion Restrictions (Commonwealth Fund, Dec. 2022). https://doi.org/10.26099/z7dz-8211