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'Deep-seated misogyny': Bill filed in Missouri would allow homicide charges for women terminating pregnancy

Founder, CEO of InnovateHER KC
Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 04, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers began their legislative session on Wednesday.

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A bill filed by Missouri Sen. Mike Moon, a republican from Ash Grove, would allow women in Missouri to be charged with murder for terminating their pregnancy if it advances through the state legislature.

"I can't imagine what it is like to have your experience, something so personal and potentially scary compounded with, 'Am I gonna be prosecuted?'" said Lauren Conaway, founder of InnovateHER KC.

Conaway founded InnovateHER KC, a networking group made up of at least 6,000 women.

After years of helping share their stories, every now and then, she's reminded of hers from 20 years ago.

"I went to the doctor — actually, Planned Parenthood — and they told me, 'Congratulations. Surprise, It's a baby,'" Conaway said.

Lauren Conaway
Lauren Conaway protesting for reproductive rights before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

After she heard of SB 775, she felt a mix of emotions.

"This is deep-seated misogyny, racism and hatred of women," Conaway said.

The "Abolition of Abortion in Missouri Act (SB 775)" includes an exception if a medical procedure performed by a licensed physician is necessary to avoid the death of the mother.

The legislation faces criticism across the political spectrum. Many anti-abortion advocates don't support it. Sen. Moon introduced an identical bill that failed last year.

"Our hope is that it doesn't see the light of day and it's dead on arrival," said Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri.

Missouri was the first state to ban abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Under the current law, there are limited exceptions.

"We think the law we have in Missouri is sufficient to protect the mother and her unborn child, and we will work vigorously to oppose this legislation," Lee said. "This type of legislation has never gone anywhere."

Sam Lee
Sam Lee, pro-life lobbyist and director of Campaign Life Missouri, testified against MO SB 356 last year.

Lee thinks the best approach is to include compassion. He believes pregnant mothers should be offered services and help free of charge so they feel like they have the option to continue carrying their child.

Twenty years ago, there weren't any abortion laws to take away Conaway's choice.

"I look at generations of women to come and think their choices will be limited," she said. "Not only that, some of them will die because they didn’t get the medical care they needed."

Conaway said her voice is for women who don't feel like they can share their story and the thousands of women who might look up to her now.

"It has very little to do with me and everything to do with them," she said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson told several news outlets when the bill was filed that he did not support it.

The Missouri Catholic Conference released a statement in opposition:

The Catholic Church has consistently been at the forefront of efforts to safeguard the fundamental principle of the right to life. Through its ministries and advocacy, the Church supports efforts to protect the unborn and to address the underlying social causes for abortion by expanding care and resources available to mothers. And for those women suffering from the pain of an abortion, the Church offers healing and hope through its Project Rachel Ministries.

Legal efforts to punish women after an abortion are inconsistent with these fundamental principles and with the history of the pro-life movement. The Missouri Catholic Conference opposes any legislation that would seek to criminalize the mother. We respectfully ask members of the General Assembly to oppose such measures and to work on legislation that provides life-affirming resources for women and children.
Missouri Catholic Conference

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes also sent a statement voicing their opposition to the bill:

This bill highlights what we already know to be true, anti-abortion lawmakers in Missouri harbor extreme views that have never been about the health and safety of those they serve, but rather control over a person’s body and choices.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes

Moon's office didn't respond to KSHB 41's requests for comment.