The ink was barely dry on Missouri’s draconian new anti-abortion-rights law before state regulators delivered the second blow against women’s control over their own bodies. Using — and blatantly abusing — their official licensing powers, regulators are threatening to shut down the last abortion provider in Missouri when its license expires Friday.
Contrast that with Illinois, where Democrats control state government: In response to the coordinated attacks on women’s self-determination in Missouri and other red states, the Illinois Legislature is moving to shore up those rights.
The difference confirms the axiom that elections have consequences. In Missouri, low-income women, rape victims and others who are targeted in these new forced-birth policies are facing the consequences of voters allowing the reactionary right to take over the state.
The Missouri law that Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed Friday outlaws all abortions after eight weeks — when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant — with the exception of abortions to save the life of the mother. There are no rape or incest exceptions.
It’s one of a recent series of laws in red states that blatantly violate the abortion-rights protections under Roe v. Wade. That’s the whole point: Anti-choice activists hope the inevitable court challenges will get them before today’s conservative U.S. Supreme Court, with possibility of overturning Roe.
But Missouri’s state health regulators, apparently unwilling to wait for that national showdown, have now maneuvered to shut down the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis — the last abortion provider in the state — with intimidation tactics that make a mockery of American democratic traditions.
As part of Planned Parenthood’s license-renewal process, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which answers to Parson, is suddenly demanding interviews with doctors and others on staff, while making clear those interviews could lead to criminal proceedings or board review for the doctors. The obvious goal is to intimidate Planned Parenthood into refusing the interviews — which it has — so it can be denied its license renewal on Friday. Litigation is pending.
It’s bad enough that politicians are writing laws to undercut women’s rights to their own medical decisions, but now bureaucrats controlled by those politicians are misusing their regulatory power to go beyond even what these new laws would allow.
All of this, remember, is in service to one ultimate goal: To ensure that any woman who becomes pregnant, even via rape, can be forced by the government to carry the pregnancy to term.
Missouri voters in recent elections have handed their state over to an increasingly extremist party with which they disagree (judging from recent ballot measures) on the minimum wage, political ethics, organized labor and other issues. Now, elected extremists are attacking the fundamental biological rights of half the population.
Elections have consequences. Missourians should remember that next year.
St. Louis (Missouri) Post-Dispatch