It’s not news to some that in communities throughout Missouri there have been restrictions on access to emergency contraception by faith-based hospitals and pharmacies. MOCADSV is gravely concerned that if more hospitals and pharmacies stop providing access to emergency contraception the ramifications of these decisions will again be placed on the shoulders of victims who need the best from Missouri, its decision-makers, their communities, and their healthcare providers. Sending a victim out in borrowed clothes after an assault and an invasive exam, to travel to a variety of stores or pharmacies to track down the medication they need to put their mind at ease is cruel and unwarranted. Missouri can and should do better.
St. Luke’s Health System in Kansas City has reversed their earlier decision to stop providing emergency contraception to patients. Their decision to stop providing it was based on interpretation of the 2019 “trigger law” that last week banned abortion, and the subsequent proclamation and opinion signed by the Governor and Attorney General. We appreciate St. Luke’s willingness to reverse course and put the needs of victims first.
First and foremost, we want to thank the advocates at the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA). MOCSA staff immediately advocated on the behalf of victims by describing how this change in policy would affect someone who had just been raped and was seeking a comprehensive range of hospital care. MOCSA’s advocacy efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Thank you to Missouri House Minority Leader, Representative Crystal Quade of Springfield, for requesting an official opinion from the Attorney General’s office regarding the new law and the impact on Missourians who use contraception.
Thank you to the office of the Missouri Attorney General for quickly and unequivocally stating, as reported by the Missouri Independent, “Missouri law does not prohibit the use or provision of Plan B, or contraception,” said Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for Schmitt.”
After Governor Parson charged the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to evaluate whether the newly enacted law that bans abortions in Missouri applies to contraceptives, DHSS released a statement that contraception is not banned under Missouri law. “Before and following the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling in Dobbs that overturns Roe v. Wade, Missouri law does not ban the use of contraception methods. RSMo 188.017 criminalizes performing an abortion absent a medical emergency, but this does not include pregnancy preventive measures.”
We thank DHSS for their swift action in releasing this statement and ensuring that sexual assault survivors, and all Missourians, will continue to have access to emergency contraceptives.
We hope other providers that had been considering a change of practice to stop providing emergency contraception strongly consider the statements from the Attorney General’s office and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services before doing so. For additional information about birth control methods and where to access various forms of birth control, visit the Missouri Family Health Council.