Voting just after midnight on Wednesday, lawmakers of the Missouri Senate passed restrictive abortion legislation that would, among other things, allow employees and landlords to discriminate against women who have terminated a pregnancy.
As The Kansas City Star reported, Governor Eric Greitens had called lawmakers into session in the hopes of counteracting a recent ruling by a federal judge. The ruling struck down a law requiring that abortion doctors have hospital admitting privileges, and that abortion clinics meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers. Such regulations have been criticized as placing deliberate and unnecessary restrictions on abortion clinics and providers.
“We want to protect life,” Greitens said during an anti-abortion rally last week. “We want to defend life, and we want to promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri.”
The new legislation would allow the state’s attorney general to prosecute violations of abortion laws — something that only local prosecutors are currently able to do. And Missouri’s Attorney General Joshua Hawley is staunchly pro-life.
The legislation also requires state health inspectors to conduct annual, unannounced inspections of facilities that provide abortions, and implements new requirements for pathologists who work with abortion clinics. Perhaps most disconcertingly, the legislation seeks to roll back on a St. Louis ordinance that prohibits landlords and employers from discriminating against pregnant women, women who use contraceptives, or women who have had an abortion.
Hundreds of activists — pro-life and pro-choice alike — gathered at the Missouri Capitol Wednesday to voice their opinions on the provision. But the legislation was ultimately passed during a late-night vote.
“Passing further restrictions on women’s access to abortion in the dark of night is shameful, at best,” Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, told The Kansas City Star. “Republican senators know this, or they would have allowed the hundreds of people rallying at the Capitol on Wednesday take part in the process.”
Read more at The Kansas City Star.