HB 126

In recent months, many states across the United States have introduced new policies regarding access to legal abortion. In light of Missouri HB 126, which would criminalize abortion if a fetus heartbeat is detected without exceptions for rape or incest, the Globe staff spoke with health care providers, lawmakers, students and community members about this controversial issue. Some sources have chosen to remain anonymous. Names with an asterisk have been changed.

Legal Background

In 1969, Texas resident Norma McCorvey was denied an abortion in her home state. She then filed a lawsuit, under the pseudonym Jane Roe, against local district attorney Henry Wade, claiming that the abortion laws in Texas were unconstitutional. After the Texas federal court ruled in McCorvey’s favor, the state appealed the decision and it was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled again in McCorvey’s favor, stating that the Fourteenth Amendment protects Americans’ “right to privacy,” therefore granting women the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. This case, Roe vs. Wade, would be a turning point in abortion rights, and a Supreme Court decision that continues to be controversial.
In 1995, McCorvey, surprisingly changed her course, founding a Pro Life organization in an attempt to overturn Roe vs. Wade as she tried to reopen her case in a Texas court.
In June 2019, Marist released a poll surveying Americans on their stance on abortion: 35 percent declared themselves pro-life, 57 percent pro-choice and the remaining eight percent were unsure. This is similar to the same survey taken in March 1996 where 37 percent identified as pro-life, 56 percent pro-choice, and seven percent unsure.
Additionally, a CNN report published in June of 2019 showed that three out of ten Americans would only vote for someone in the presidential election if they shared their views on abortion. This fraction is higher than any point in CNN polling on the topic since 1996.
Since its passing, not only has Roe vs. Wade sparked national debate, but it has also been used in many subsequent cases. In 2000, the Supreme Court created the “undue burden” standard in reference to abortion, stating that the analyzation of abortion rights could infringe on women’s rights as stated in the Fourteenth Amendment. This was a result of the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey case, where the court upheld Roe vs. Wade.

As of 2019, nine U.S. states have passed laws limiting or restricting abortion. The laws vary: some prohibit abortion after six to eight weeks, others after 18-22 weeks and Alabama has recently prohibited abortion unless a woman’s health is at serious risk. These bans are directly challenging the Roe vs. Wade case. Missouri is one of these states.”

In addition, during the 2016 Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, the court took away state’s ability to restrict the function of abortion clinics due to unjust requirements, once again upholding Roe vs. Wade.
As of 2019, nine U.S. states have passed laws limiting or restricting abortion. The laws vary: some prohibit abortion after six to eight weeks, others after 18-22 weeks and Alabama has recently prohibited abortion unless a woman’s health is at serious risk. These bans are directly challenging the Roe vs. Wade case.
Missouri is one of these states.
In May 2019, Missouri passed House Bill 126, banning any abortion after eight weeks gestation.
“Our Missouri legislature has been spending an enormous amount of time over the past 10 years or so trying to pass more and more restrictive abortion laws, so it was not a surprise that we were following other states,” said Barbara Baumgartner, Washington University Professor of Women and Gender Studies.
The bill was set to go into effect on Aug. 28. However, the day prior, Missouri judge Howard Sachs placed a temporary restraining order on the bill.
“Missouri is yet another state that is trying to bate the Supreme Court to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade,” Baumgartner said.
This bill is what’s known as a “trigger law,” meaning that it is unenforceable, but may achieve enforceability if something were to change, in this case being the appeal of Roe vs. Wade. The bill passed 110 to 44 on May 17 in the Missouri House, and it was signed by Governor Mike Parsons soon after.
“I was not surprised that it passed. I was somewhat surprised that only one member of the majority party felt it was too extreme and voted against it. I would’ve suspected that a few other folks in swing districts and suburban districts would have perhaps skipped that vote, or voted private, or maybe would’ve had the courage to vote ‘no’. We knew it would pass. The party that posed it has a super majority, but I was surprised that it didn’t draw more opposition from that party based on how extreme it was,” Missouri Representative Ian Mackey said.
The fate of abortion rights is becoming increasingly precarious, not only in the state of Missouri, but around the country. With a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, does this mean a statewide abortion ban could overturn Roe vs. Wade?

Planned Parenthood

Driving past the gates into Planned Parenthood, there are protesters standing outside carrying signs and petitions. For Planned Parenthood health care providers, this opposition often finds ways to come through the doors. Every year, the Missouri legislator attempts to pass new restrictions on abortion services. In addition, the regulatory process tries to limit abortion through agencies such as the Department of Health.
“Every new piece of legislation, every new regulation is designed to make it harder for people to access abortion. We do our very best to try and absorb the impact of this and make accommodations so that patients don’t feel it quite as much,” said Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Two key pieces of legislation in the last few years have been Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 126, which attempt to limit women’s access to abortion. Although Planned Parenthood is trying to continue to protect the health and safety of women, these policies influence the abortion care that patients are able to receive.
“(This legislature) tries to require us to do things that we do not feel is medically necessary for women to be able to receive access. These laws are being made by lawmakers based on their opinions of what they think is right and not what’s best for women. This has caused us to have to really structure our way of doing things to try to best serve women,” Kawanna Shannan, Director of Surgical Services, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said.
According to McNicholas and Shannon, regardless of restrictions placed on abortion, abortions always happen. These restrictions will not necessarily change the existence of abortion, but they may change how people access abortion.
“We now do have medications that we can use safely outside of the medical system. And when I say that, there’s a couple of things that would be required to be able to self-manage abortion outside of a medical system safely. You need to know what medications you’re getting and then we just need to make sure that you have access to information about what to expect,” McNicholas said.
However, some people do not have access to these methods. Shannon says that abortion is among the safest of all medical procedures, and it is even safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, but women without access have resorted to un- safe methods to end a pregnancy.
“Those things include taking medications that people feel like might disrupt their pregnancy or causing physical harm to yourself, throwing yourself down the stairs, inserting something into the vagina or uterus. And obviously those have tremendous consequences for people’s lives, but, if they survive that, it can harm their chance to have a healthy family later on,” McNicholas said.
These laws will have disproportionate effects on women of color.
According to an article in the Washington Post, “Given [the disparities in the justice system], and given that the pre-Roe legal regime disproportionately targeted poorer immigrant women as well, it means that minority, particularly black, women are most at risk from abortion criminalization laws.”
Shannon critiques that while programs to help women in poverty are being cut, those with decision-making power also want to cut abortion.
“They need to make up their mind. Do they love women or not? Because at this moment I don’t feel that they love women at all,” Shannon said.
The rhetoric around abortion suggests that it is a black-or-white issue, with people being either pro-choice or pro-life, but McNicholas says this is not the story for most of her patients.
“My experience with patients is that almost everyone who walks in the door and sits with me to talk about their abortion decision exists in the gray, that it’s not a yes or no. Also, nearly every single person that I know who provides abortion care has had an experience such that they performed an abortion for somebody who was, at one time, a protester in front of their clinic,” McNicholas said.
The opposition to Planned Parenthood is strong, but Shannon is not worried for the organization’s future.
“I think that young people are engaged in a way that they hadn’t been before and I think that they see the world differently,” Shannon said. “They understand that the decision to have an abortion is the confluence of your financial insecurity or what your housing situation is or the existence of violence in your community– that all of those things are part of the decision that people make to parent or not parent. And I think that because young people understand that, as time goes on, the conversation around abortion will change.”

Personal Stories

Ana Meyers

Driving past the gates into Planned Parenthood, there are protesters standing outside carrying signs and petitions. For Planned Parenthood health care providers, this opposition often finds ways to come through the doors. Every year, the Missouri legislator attempts to pass new restrictions on abortion services. In addition, the regulatory process tries to limit abortion through agencies such as the Department of Health.
“Every new piece of legislation, every new regulation is designed to make it harder for people to access abortion. We do our very best to try and absorb the impact of this and make accommodations so that patients don’t feel it quite as much,” said Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Two key pieces of legislation in the last few years have been Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 126, which attempt to limit women’s access to abortion. Although Planned Parenthood is trying to continue to protect the health and safety of women, these policies influence the abortion care that patients are able to receive.
“(This legislature) tries to require us to do things that we do not feel is medically necessary for women to be able to receive access. These laws are being made by lawmakers based on their opinions of what they think is right and not what’s best for women. This has caused us to have to really structure our way of doing things to try to best serve women,” Kawanna Shannan, Director of Surgical Services, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said.
According to McNicholas and Shannon, regardless of restrictions placed on abortion, abortions always happen. These restrictions will not necessarily change the existence of abortion, but they may change how people access abortion.
“We now do have medications that we can use safely outside of the medical system. And when I say that, there’s a couple of things that would be required to be able to self-manage abortion outside of a medical system safely. You need to know what medications you’re getting and then we just need to make sure that you have access to information about what to expect,” McNicholas said.
However, some people do not have access to these methods. Shannon says that abortion is among the safest of all medical procedures, and it is even safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, but women without access have resorted to un- safe methods to end a pregnancy.
“Those things include taking medications that people feel like might disrupt their pregnancy or causing physical harm to yourself, throwing yourself down the stairs, inserting something into the vagina or uterus. And obviously those have tremendous consequences for people’s lives, but, if they survive that, it can harm their chance to have a healthy family later on,” McNicholas said.
These laws will have disproportionate effects on women of color.
According to an article in the Washington Post, “Given [the disparities in the justice system], and given that the pre-Roe legal regime disproportionately targeted poorer immigrant women as well, it means that minority, particularly black, women are most at risk from abortion criminalization laws.”
Shannon critiques that while programs to help women in poverty are being cut, those with decision-making power also want to cut abortion.
“They need to make up their mind. Do they love women or not? Because at this moment I don’t feel that they love women at all,” Shannon said.
The rhetoric around abortion suggests that it is a black-or-white issue, with people being either pro-choice or pro-life, but McNicholas says this is not the story for most of her patients.
“My experience with patients is that almost everyone who walks in the door and sits with me to talk about their abortion decision exists in the gray, that it’s not a yes or no. Also, nearly every single person that I know who provides abortion care has had an experience such that they performed an abortion for somebody who was, at one time, a protester in front of their clinic,” McNicholas said.
The opposition to Planned Parenthood is strong, but Shannon is not worried for the organization’s future.
“I think that young people are engaged in a way that they hadn’t been before and I think that they see the world differently,” Shannon said. “They understand that the decision to have an abortion is the confluence of your financial insecurity or what your housing situation is or the existence of violence in your community– that all of those things are part of the decision that people make to parent or not parent. And I think that because young people understand that, as time goes on, the conversation around abortion will change.”

Mira Upshaw

Driving past the gates into Planned Parenthood, there are protesters standing outside carrying signs and petitions. For Planned Parenthood health care providers, this opposition often finds ways to come through the doors. Every year, the Missouri legislator attempts to pass new restrictions on abortion services. In addition, the regulatory process tries to limit abortion through agencies such as the Department of Health.
“Every new piece of legislation, every new regulation is designed to make it harder for people to access abortion. We do our very best to try and absorb the impact of this and make accommodations so that patients don’t feel it quite as much,” said Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Two key pieces of legislation in the last few years have been Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 126, which attempt to limit women’s access to abortion. Although Planned Parenthood is trying to continue to protect the health and safety of women, these policies influence the abortion care that patients are able to receive.
“(This legislature) tries to require us to do things that we do not feel is medically necessary for women to be able to receive access. These laws are being made by lawmakers based on their opinions of what they think is right and not what’s best for women. This has caused us to have to really structure our way of doing things to try to best serve women,” Kawanna Shannan, Director of Surgical Services, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said.
According to McNicholas and Shannon, regardless of restrictions placed on abortion, abortions always happen. These restrictions will not necessarily change the existence of abortion, but they may change how people access abortion.
“We now do have medications that we can use safely outside of the medical system. And when I say that, there’s a couple of things that would be required to be able to self-manage abortion outside of a medical system safely. You need to know what medications you’re getting and then we just need to make sure that you have access to information about what to expect,” McNicholas said.
However, some people do not have access to these methods. Shannon says that abortion is among the safest of all medical procedures, and it is even safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, but women without access have resorted to un- safe methods to end a pregnancy.
“Those things include taking medications that people feel like might disrupt their pregnancy or causing physical harm to yourself, throwing yourself down the stairs, inserting something into the vagina or uterus. And obviously those have tremendous consequences for people’s lives, but, if they survive that, it can harm their chance to have a healthy family later on,” McNicholas said.
These laws will have disproportionate effects on women of color.
According to an article in the Washington Post, “Given [the disparities in the justice system], and given that the pre-Roe legal regime disproportionately targeted poorer immigrant women as well, it means that minority, particularly black, women are most at risk from abortion criminalization laws.”
Shannon critiques that while programs to help women in poverty are being cut, those with decision-making power also want to cut abortion.
“They need to make up their mind. Do they love women or not? Because at this moment I don’t feel that they love women at all,” Shannon said.
The rhetoric around abortion suggests that it is a black-or-white issue, with people being either pro-choice or pro-life, but McNicholas says this is not the story for most of her patients.
“My experience with patients is that almost everyone who walks in the door and sits with me to talk about their abortion decision exists in the gray, that it’s not a yes or no. Also, nearly every single person that I know who provides abortion care has had an experience such that they performed an abortion for somebody who was, at one time, a protester in front of their clinic,” McNicholas said.
The opposition to Planned Parenthood is strong, but Shannon is not worried for the organization’s future.
“I think that young people are engaged in a way that they hadn’t been before and I think that they see the world differently,” Shannon said. “They understand that the decision to have an abortion is the confluence of your financial insecurity or what your housing situation is or the existence of violence in your community– that all of those things are part of the decision that people make to parent or not parent. And I think that because young people understand that, as time goes on, the conversation around abortion will change.”

Clara Johnson*

Driving past the gates into Planned Parenthood, there are protesters standing outside carrying signs and petitions. For Planned Parenthood health care providers, this opposition often finds ways to come through the doors. Every year, the Missouri legislator attempts to pass new restrictions on abortion services. In addition, the regulatory process tries to limit abortion through agencies such as the Department of Health.
“Every new piece of legislation, every new regulation is designed to make it harder for people to access abortion. We do our very best to try and absorb the impact of this and make accommodations so that patients don’t feel it quite as much,” said Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Two key pieces of legislation in the last few years have been Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 126, which attempt to limit women’s access to abortion. Although Planned Parenthood is trying to continue to protect the health and safety of women, these policies influence the abortion care that patients are able to receive.
“(This legislature) tries to require us to do things that we do not feel is medically necessary for women to be able to receive access. These laws are being made by lawmakers based on their opinions of what they think is right and not what’s best for women. This has caused us to have to really structure our way of doing things to try to best serve women,” Kawanna Shannan, Director of Surgical Services, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said.
According to McNicholas and Shannon, regardless of restrictions placed on abortion, abortions always happen. These restrictions will not necessarily change the existence of abortion, but they may change how people access abortion.
“We now do have medications that we can use safely outside of the medical system. And when I say that, there’s a couple of things that would be required to be able to self-manage abortion outside of a medical system safely. You need to know what medications you’re getting and then we just need to make sure that you have access to information about what to expect,” McNicholas said.
However, some people do not have access to these methods. Shannon says that abortion is among the safest of all medical procedures, and it is even safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, but women without access have resorted to un- safe methods to end a pregnancy.
“Those things include taking medications that people feel like might disrupt their pregnancy or causing physical harm to yourself, throwing yourself down the stairs, inserting something into the vagina or uterus. And obviously those have tremendous consequences for people’s lives, but, if they survive that, it can harm their chance to have a healthy family later on,” McNicholas said.
These laws will have disproportionate effects on women of color.
According to an article in the Washington Post, “Given [the disparities in the justice system], and given that the pre-Roe legal regime disproportionately targeted poorer immigrant women as well, it means that minority, particularly black, women are most at risk from abortion criminalization laws.”
Shannon critiques that while programs to help women in poverty are being cut, those with decision-making power also want to cut abortion.
“They need to make up their mind. Do they love women or not? Because at this moment I don’t feel that they love women at all,” Shannon said.
The rhetoric around abortion suggests that it is a black-or-white issue, with people being either pro-choice or pro-life, but McNicholas says this is not the story for most of her patients.
“My experience with patients is that almost everyone who walks in the door and sits with me to talk about their abortion decision exists in the gray, that it’s not a yes or no. Also, nearly every single person that I know who provides abortion care has had an experience such that they performed an abortion for somebody who was, at one time, a protester in front of their clinic,” McNicholas said.
The opposition to Planned Parenthood is strong, but Shannon is not worried for the organization’s future.
“I think that young people are engaged in a way that they hadn’t been before and I think that they see the world differently,” Shannon said. “They understand that the decision to have an abortion is the confluence of your financial insecurity or what your housing situation is or the existence of violence in your community– that all of those things are part of the decision that people make to parent or not parent. And I think that because young people understand that, as time goes on, the conversation around abortion will change.”

Sara Bennett

As a young woman, Sara Bennett was often startled awake by a haunting recurring nightmare of a bloodied embryo.
The dreams began shortly after she became a practicing OB-GYN.
Sara grew up in Dagestan, a republic of Russia near the Caspian Sea, at the height of the Soviet Union. After high school, she entered directly into a six-year program to become a doctor, where she decided that gynecology was the topic that she was most interested in. Ideas of gender equality were comparatively progressive during this time; women were viewed as equal members of society, birth control was prevalent and abortions were legal and accessible.
According to her daughter, Emma*, the religious beliefs that Sara developed made performing these procedures emotionally draining.
“After [Sara] spent some time in Moscow, she actually fell in love with Orthodox Christianity and became a part of it,” Emma said. “So there’s this whole other aspect of her diverging from her community in order to become Christian. At the time [because of the Soviet Union], religion was not freely practiced, and especially not by her family, who were community leaders. Here she is, and she’s learning about abortion, she has to do it, but she’s also deeply Christian and obviously Christianity says that we should respect all life, we should not destroy God’s life. It was this moment of two conflicting issues.”
Although Sara remains strongly Christian today, her nightmares have dissipated. After moving to the United States, she chose not to renew her medical license, and instead works as a researcher at WashU. Emma is a Clayton alum and, unlike her mother, describes herself as pro-choice.
“Essentially, I really believe that it just comes down to the choice of the person, and it goes with the same logic that if it’s that individual’s body, then that individual should be the sole determiner of what they do with it,” Emma said. “It’s not the concern of the community, it’s not the concern of the government. It’s not their responsibility to govern the wants of the person.”
Although Emma and Sara’s views on abortion differ, Emma respects her mother’s religious commitment, and they’ve found common ground when discussing the topic.
“[Sara] basically says that it really depends on the situation, and if you can avoid having an abortion, to the best of your ability avoid it, but if it has to be done then that’s just the situation,” Emma said. “Which I think is just a pretty integral female experience, because obviously no one wants to have an abortion, they’re not just going to do it for fun, and they’re probably going to seek out other options, but if it needs to be done, it should be done. That’s really what abortion is in America today.”

Belle Gage

“My non-biological sister was born with one leg way shorter than the other because her mom was raped and her womb was too small for her to fully develop. Because of that incident, there were even more medical costs for operations for the leg. My great-grandma had to have an illegal [abortion]. She was blindfolded in an alley, her husband wasn’t allowed to be there and it was a very unsafe operation. There’s so much stigma around it, people don’t talk about it, but I think almost everyone knows someone who’s been deeply impacted by this issue. I couldn’t help thinking about the people close to me could potentially be in harm’s way due to new laws,” said CHS junior Belle Gage.
When Gage heard about the proposal of HB 126 in the Missouri Congress, she was deeply saddened. So much so, in fact, that she knew she had to take immediate action.
As someone who is pro-choice, Gage was disturbed by the idea that women, especially rape or incest victims, would not have the option to get an abortion after eight weeks. She believes that this time-frame should be extended considerably, possibly through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
So, she made a plan.
First, she would reach out to friends who have had organized protests and ask them for advice. Then, she would create a movement and get as many people involved as possible. Finally, a rally would be held in downtown St. Louis to bring attention to the issue.
“We ended up getting together a group of probably like 20 people who were really involved with planning, but then it turned into a GroupMe of more than 300 people who were somewhat involved and at least wanting to come or help out with the rally… and that turned into St. Louis Pro-choice Student Activists,” Gage said.
The group became so large that it had to be divided into sub-committees to handle various aspects of the rally. Different leaders were assigned to teams who organized speeches, logistics, social media and graphic design. Gage was in charge of public outreach.
“I was head of outreach, which meant that my committee was reaching out to local figures, whether that was politicians, or people working at Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU, etc,” Gage said. “Reaching out to them, writing a press release, getting press to come to the rally. We even invited a voter registration group to come, bring a table and set that up, and then we announced it there so that people could get registered at the rally itself. We had about a week to pull it all together so that was really tough.”
On the day of the rally, almost 1,000 people were present. Students who were involved in its organization were able to speak to prominent news sources who attended, such as Refinery29. Speakers shared their stories and personal accounts of experiences with abortion. Protestors made signs and led chants.
Although the event itself was a success, Gage feels that it is important not to let passion around this issue die out, especially after the passage of HB 126 in May. She believes that, with safe and equitable access to abortion, its frequency and risk would decrease.
“Countries and states with protected, legal access to abortion have lower rates of abortions, and it seems like nobody knows that,” Gage said. “That is just the most powerful fact. I can understand why people would vote pro-life. Honestly, it’s sad when you see that fetuses are not able to become babies. I can see how that can strike a chord with some people. But when you look at the fact that bans aren’t actually preventing abortions, I can’t see a reason to pass them. It’s driving up death rates among the people trying to get abortions, and putting them, even if they don’t die, into really bad financial situations or making them drop out of school, or causing them to be disowned by their family. Then you take into consideration that abortion rates aren’t even falling. That’s what really makes me pro-choice.”

Samuel Lee

Samuel Lee never became involved with what he considers today to be a human rights issue until 1978.
“I was pro-life, in the sense that I was raised Catholic and it’s something that my parents and family believed, but I never really paid a whole lot of attention to it or thought much about it,” Lee said.
When he moved to the city to attend Saint Louis University, Lee went to visit some people that he knew. At the time, they were working and planning with SLU to organize the first peaceful abortion clinic sit-in in St. Louis. After Lee helped with the event, he continued to engage in pro-life activism, despite being arrested several times and going to jail for a period of months.
Eventually, Lee became interested in law and started drafting some legislation for the Missouri General Assembly. In 1968, he became a full-time lobbyist, and has been one ever since.
“It’s something I firmly believe in. It’s something I enjoy working on a lot. It’s something that I’ve done for quite a few years,” Lee said.
The recent legislation that places new limits on abortion, such as prohibiting abortions after eight weeks, has sparked controversy and outrage in the community. However, Lee is in strong support of the proposed time-frame and has been actively working in legislation to oppose the recent lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against HB 126. Despite his firm favor for the laws, he also realizes the challenges they may create. He wants to help provide women with the resources to go through their pregnancy safely.
“I’m aware of what the law is and… personally I think all abortions should be prohibited, but I also believe that women should be given the resources they need to help carry their babies to term and also to help them after the baby’s born. I think both are necessary for the pro-life movement to be involved with, and I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in both aspects of that,” Lee said.
Ever since Lee became involved in the pro-life movement, he has had to face those with differing opinions who challenge his views. He has heard arguments criticizing legislation that lacks exceptions even in the case of assault victims. Still, Lee remains in total support of prohibiting all abortions.
“I’m not someone who engages in debates because there are people who do that for a living, but I’m happy to talk with pro-choice people at any time, and I’ve done so over the years. First of all, [I] try to understand where they’re coming from, and if they’re interested in hearing where I’m coming from. Abortion is a human rights issue. An unborn child is a human being and all human beings should be treated equally. An unborn child should have the same right to life as any other person,” Lee said.
For Lee, the right to life, even for an unborn fetus at eight weeks, is superior to all other rights. He understands the arguments that pro-choice individuals make on the right to autonomy and the right to control one’s own body, but he still regards the right to life above all others.
“It starts going into, ‘What about women who are poor, what about…’ all sorts of other stuff, and I get that. But it still comes down to a human rights issue. I understand the other person’s argument in terms of autonomy and right to control their bodies and things like that, I just think that the right to life trumps all other rights,” Lee said.

Deana Torres

Deana Torres was 26, living without her husband in India and about to take her board exams to become a doctor.
Then she found out that she was pregnant.
“I was very surprised. I wasn’t expecting this at all and I wasn’t prepared for it, to say the least,” Torres said. “My mom suggested that for practical reasons, I should consider abortion. I had my board exams coming and we were planning to move to a new country very soon. I had a 7-month old baby when I discovered that I was pregnant again, and I had no clue if I would be able to manage two small children in a new country when we already had a lot of other struggles in front of us. So, for some time, I contemplated the idea of abortion.”
During this turbulent period, Torres turned to her family for advice and help. However, she faced conflicting opinions among them, which led her to look inward to come to a decision.
“My dad and my in-laws didn’t like the idea of abortion at all, so I faced some confusion there. My husband was not staying with me at that time, so I couldn’t discuss too much with him. He was supportive in whatever I decided, so I realized that I had to decide this by myself,” Torres said.
Torres’ choice was difficult to make, especially in the midst of several major life changes. However, she continues to feel that it was the right one.
“It took some time for me to come to terms with the fact that I was in the process of becoming a mother of two,” Torres said. “I had to get rid of influences from parents and in-laws, and think for myself. I definitely had a component of fear regarding some health issues that may have complicated an abortion, but most of all, I think I got emotional when I realized that there is a living being in me that I would kill if I considered abortion. I also believed that none of the challenges that life could pose in the future were greater than the gift of giving birth to this baby. When I communicated this to my husband, he was extremely supportive as well, and so I changed my mind and never regretted it.”
After giving birth to her second child, Torres joined her husband in Singapore. Today, they live in Clayton with their two daughters.
Although Torres chose not to get an abortion, she believes that a woman’s decision on the matter is personal and dependent on their circumstances, not on society’s opinion of it. She is completely against HB 126.
“No woman, particularly an assault victim, should be made to suffer the consequences of an unwanted and victimized pregnancy,” Torres said. “I doubt the possibility of this legislature would ever arise if men could get pregnant as well.”

Next Steps

The passing of HB 126 has raised a very important question for both Missourians and for the rest of the country. Why? Why do women get abortions in the first place?
Generally, the reason women get abortions is because they are not at a point in their life where they can take care of a child. Baumgartner believes that if the state is looking to restrict abortion, some of this responsibility should fall on them.
“If the state is really interested in life, what they would be doing would be making it easier to have a baby — providing them with economic support after that child is born, having high quality federal and state subsidies for child care, funding prenatal care. . . If we were really concerned with life, we would handle things more carefully. It wouldn’t be about abortion. It would be about providing services for women who are pregnant and families who have children,” Baumgartner said.
For abortion to truly be restricted, of course, actions will have to be taken in the Supreme Court. And this is exactly what Missouri and other states that have passed restrictive abortion laws thus far want.
“Missouri is yet another state that is trying to bate the Supreme Court to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade,” Baumgartner said.
If this were to happen, Baumgartner says the rest is fairly straightforward.
“Then, of course it would be up to the individual states, and part of that law that Missouri passed was basically a trigger law saying that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would be immediately illegal in Missouri. That would be very significant.”
The bating of the Supreme Court not only has implications for womens’ reproductive rights, but for politicians as well, according to Representative Mackey, who also serves on the House, Children and Family Committee. As such a divisive issue on constituents’ minds, politicians are more frequently placed in a more defined “box” in terms of their position on relevant policy.
“I consider myself extremely pro-choice, which is why many people who care most about that issue may consider me as a crazy far-left off-the-wing liberal, even though I may be moderate on other issues,” Mackey said. “We don’t want to put ourselves in a box. But then if we don’t do that, we’re letting the other side do it.”
With more and more citizens employing single-issue voting, politicians are scrambling to attach themselves to one side of prevalent issues such as abortion in order to get re-elected.
That being said, there are many stipulations of these bills restricting abortion that make it difficult to get politicians on board with every portion of the bill, even if they vote to pass it under pro-choice motivation.
Therefore, while lower courts may continue on as they have in regards to the initial bills, they may have a harder time getting pushed through the Supreme Court.
“HB 126 was an omnibus bill. It had probably six, seven, or eight independent bills wrapped up into it. We have a lot of unique portions of our bill, such as the section that states that God is the author of human life. I don’t think that helps the constitutionality of the bill,” Mackey said.
Although the recent legislation is undoubtedly divisive, Mackey is less concerned with the degree of his colleagues’ beliefs, and more concerned with their ability to work with others to find common ground on an issue in which voters all have a common goal of child safety.
“I’ve made relationships with people who are as passionate as I am on the other end of the spectrum. That’s what’s important in terms of how you’re treated by your colleagues. It’s not how ‘extreme’ your position is. It’s really ‘can you work with folks?’ and if you can do that, then you’ll earn the respect.”
Even so, anticipation for a reaction from the Supreme Court is high, especially with its recent appointees and its 5-4 majority.
In regards to the possibility of rolling back precedent, Baumgartner said, “I think it’s quite possible. With the two recent Supreme Court appointees, I do think it could happen. I think everything depends on [Chief Justice] Roberts’ decision. I think Roberts is very interested in making sure the Supreme Court does not appear to be political and isn’t politicized. He might be the key to not overturning Roe v. Wade. I do think it is quite possible, though, especially if one more liberal justice retires.”
Although tentative to make any definite assumptions about an upcoming ruling, Mackey is slightly more skeptical.
“I would be shocked if HB 126 were ruled word-for-word verbatim constitutional by our Supreme Court, even given it’s membership. I do think that there is a possibility that we see portions of Roe and portions of the status quo rolled back — we see more restrictions, we see it harder and harder for women in this country to access abortion care. Because of that, it makes our legislative bodies more important.”