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Missouri bans abortion except in case of medical emergency takes effect after Dobbs v. Jackson ruling

Supreme Court
Posted at 10:15 AM, Jun 24, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case originating in Mississippi that challenged Roe v Wade, most abortions are now illegal in Missouri.

The law — House Bill 126, which passed in 2019 — bans abortion except in the case of medical emergencies.

There are no exceptions in the case of rape or incest.

Any doctor performing an abortion would be guilty of a Class B felony and subject to having their license revoked.

A doctor who performs an abortion in the case of a medical emergency “shall have the burden of persuasion that the defense is more probably true than not.”

Women who have an abortion would not be subject to penalty under the law.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, abortions were legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy in Missouri.

House Bill 126 included a trigger that would outlaw nearly all abortions in Missouri should the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade, a landmark decision that provided a constitutional basis for abortion rights.

When the ruling was handed down in the Dobbs case, that trigger — known as the "Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act" — took effect.

Another section of House Bill 126, dubbed the "Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act," would have made the gestational age at which abortion was illegal incrementally lower had the Supreme Court's decision allowed.

But when the 6-3 decision struck down the 50-year precedent set in Roe vs. Wade, those clauses became a moot point.

House Bill 126 also requires doctors to provide any woman seeking an abortion receive printed materials with “information on the possibility of an abortion causing pain” despite the fact that there is no medical consensus on the subject.

It also requires abortion providers and family-planning agencies in Missouri that refer a pregnant woman to an out-of-state clinic to provide the same printed material.

Planned Parenthood in St. Louis is the only active abortion-provider in the state.

The newly triggered law, which passed on a 109-46 vote, also now requires all custodial parents, with some exceptions, to be notified in writing when a girl under the age of 18 seeks an abortion, even in the case of a medical emergency. Prior to House Bill 126, only one parent was required to provide consent for the procedure.

The law also doubles the amount of annual medical malpractice insurance an abortion provider in Missouri must carry to $1 million per occurrence and $3 million in aggregate.

“Tail insurance” in the same amount is now required for doctors performing drug-induced abortions if the drug includes a warning that birth defect, disability or other injury is possible to the fetus should the drug fail.

Doctors also must now certify in a report to the state having no knowledge that a woman seeking an abortion did so on the basis of “a prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome in the unborn child” or on the basis of the fetus' expected sex or race.

House Bill 126 also had clauses outlawing abortion at 18 and 14 weeks built in three years ago in case future legislative or judicial proceedings at the federal level allowed for such less-restrictive bans.

Those were rendered moot by the Supreme Court’s action, which allowed the most-restrictive eight-week abortion ban to go into effect.

Additional provisions of House Bill 126 include:

  • Requiring doctors who perform a third-trimester abortion deemed necessary due to a medical emergency to use a method “most likely to preserve the life or health’ of the fetus and to have a second doctor present to provide immediate medical care for the fetus;
  • Declaring Missouri “and all of its political subdivisions are a ‘sanctuary of life’,” including for unborn children, “in recognition that Almighty God is the author of life,” according to the bill’s text;
  • Maintaining existing requirements for doctors performing an abortion to inform patients of alternatives, the gestational age of the fetus and its “anatomical and physiological characteristics” and mandatory availability of an ultrasound 72 hours prior to an abortion procedure;
  • Allowing taxpayers to deduct up to 70% of donations to pregnancy resource centers, which are tax-exempt, non-residential facilities that “encourage women to carry their pregnancies to term.”

    Minimum donations are $100 and House Bill 126 keeps the $50,000 tax credit per year in place, but allows any credit in excess of $50,000 to be rolled over to the next tax year.

    Often these centers are affiliated with or run by religious organizations and not staffed by medical professionals.

Kansas does not have a trigger law after the state supreme court ruled abortion was constitutionally protected, but voters will decide on an amendment in August that could change the state constitution.

Passage of an constitutional amendment in August would not automatically trigger any law more restrictive than the current 22-week abortion ban, but it would pave the way for legislative action to pass more-restrictive laws.

Editor's note: House Bill 126 is an omnibus bill, which includes several different bills within one. Due to confusion over the working of the bill, the original article erroneously included information rendered moot by the trigger clause. Missouri law now bans all abortion except in the case of a medical emergency.