A Missouri Republican has introduced a bill that would allow people to be charged with murder for having an abortion in the state.
The bill would give fetuses the same criminal and civil protections of all citizens in the state, and allow Class A felony charges against people who have terminated their pregnancies. Such charges are punishable by up to life in prison.
The bill was introduced by Mike Moon, a Republican state senator who has also introduced bills that would ban transgender kids from participating in sports teams, bar trans youth from receiving gender-affirming health care, and force teachers to out trans kids to their parents. Moon also achieved notoriety last month for saying that he supported children getting married at 12 years old.
“We deserve to live our lives,” said Sam Hawickhorst, a woman who testified against the anti-abortion bill during a Senate Health and Welfare Committee hearing on Wednesday. “We shouldn’t be having an economic and physical barrier caused by being forced to carry a child.”
Similar bills that would allow people to be charged with homicide for having an abortion have been introduced in Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Homicide is punishable by the death penalty in those states.
After the reversal of Roe v. Wade last June, Missouri was the first state to enact a trigger ban to outlaw abortion in the state. While federal law requires providers to perform abortions in medical emergencies despite state abortion bans, hospitals in Missouri have been documented illegally refusing to provide federally-mandated abortion care in emergencies.
Abortion advocates in the state want to put a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot that would restore abortion rights in Missouri. However, the Missouri ACLU is alleging that Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey is attempting to coerce State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick into inflating the projected cost of the amendment, which is delaying supporters from collecting the signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot.
“To submit a fiscal note summary that I know contains inaccurate information would violate my duty as State Auditor to produce an accurate fiscal note summary,” Fitzpatrick said.
ACLU-Missouri has sued the attorney general, the secretary of state, and the state auditor for stonewalling the ballot initiation, alleging that the state has missed the deadlines to post the summary and title for the constitutional amendment petition.
“The unilateral actions of the unelected attorney general to hold hostage the people’s constitutional right to the initiative process is an attempt to subvert direct democracy to prevent Missourians from voting on the fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” said Anthony Rothert, Director of Integrated Advocacy at the ACLU of Missouri.
Bailey has made headlines over the past few months for issuing sweeping anti-transgender regulations that would force trans youth and adults in the state to detransition. Several advocacy groups have sued in response, temporarily blocking the restrictions from going into effect.