A Missouri Republican legislator has introduced so-called fetal personhood legislation that could mandate law enforcement to stop people from having abortions.
House Bill 1799 was introduced by state Rep. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove), a vociferous “fetal personhood” advocate who has compared abortion to slavery. The legislation was pre-filed in December. The GOP-dominated Missouri legislature will begin its 2020 session on Wednesday.
The bill says “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state” should be granted to fetuses at any stage of development, typical fodder found in “personhood” bills pushed by anti-choice lawmakers. These measures, rejected by voters across the country, would outlaw abortion and many kinds of contraception.
“Law enforcement officers, officers of the court, and any licensed or state-regulated entities in the state shall affirmatively enforce” the provision barring abortion in the state, according to Moon’s bill, which recognizes life as beginning at fertilization.
Reproductive rights advocates said HB 1799 is just the latest salvo from one of the nation’s most rabidly anti-choice legislators.
“Missouri’s abortion laws are already some of the most restrictive in the nation,” Sarah Felts, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, said in a statement to Rewire.News. “This shows the out-of-step and extreme priorities of abortion-obsessed Republicans in the Missouri Legislature.”
Moon did not respond to an interview request from Rewire.News.
In 2019, Missouri was on the precipice of becoming the first state since the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade to be without a standalone abortion clinic. The state health department has tried to shutter the clinic using a vast web of anti-choice restrictions that are medically unnecessary and can be harmful to sexual assault survivors. Health department officials have refused to renew the clinic’s license. It was revealed during October hearings that Dr. Randall Williams, the department’s director, tracked the menstrual cycles of patients at the clinic.
Steve Reed, co-chair of the Missouri Action Progressive Group, told Rewire.News that Moon’s bill constituted a legislative attack against people across the state.
“The movement to restrict reproductive choice is not only an attack on personal autonomy but also on the principle of equality for women, and it is a grave threat to all Americans’ cherished right to privacy, bodily integrity and religious liberty,” Reed said.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) told St. Louis Public Radio in August that Missouri Republican lawmakers’ extreme abortion proposals could help Democrats in coming electoral battles. Democrats hold ten of the 34 state senate seats in Missouri, and 48 of the 163 house seats.
“I think it is going to be helpful because it allows us to really explain the narrative beyond just abortion, but all of the other things — like kids getting kicked off Medicaid,” Quade said. “All of these continuous extremisms that’s going on in Jefferson City, we’ll be able to get that message out across the state.”