Missouri - The Show Me Life State
By Pamela Fichter
Missouri has been a leader in the battle to restore the right to life of innocent unborn children. Through the combined efforts of various groups - each with a different focus but united in their mission - Missouri may soon become the first state without an abortion clinic.
Following the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions, Missouri resident abortions reached an all-time high of 21,671 in 1980 with twelve surgical abortion clinics operating in the state. Missouri pro-lifers came together in the cause of life on various fronts. The Archdiocese of St. Louis opened the first archdiocesan pro-life office in the country. Other religious groups, such as the Lutherans for Life and many Baptists and Evangelicals also joined the battle. Pregnancy resource centers opened throughout the state to offer life choices to women in crisis pregnancies. Through the years, various groups have maintained a prayerful witness and provided sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics. Groups like Defenders of the Unborn, Coalition for Life, 40 Days for Life and Protectors of God’s Precious Infants have provided spiritual support and life-saving information at the very gates of these death clinics and have saved countless lives with their presence.
Missouri Right to Life, under the original name of Missouri Citizens for Life, was organized in 1974 as the only state affiliate of National Right to Life to work for life-saving legislation. Missouri Right to Life has been at the forefront of the battle for life in Missouri through education, grassroots activation and legislation. Over 50 pro-life laws have been passed in Missouri including the following:
Only physicians with hospital privileges perform abortions; one parent consent before minor’s abortion; two custodial parent notification; ban public funding of abortion; ban partial-birth abortion w72-hour reflection period before an abortion; tax credits for pregnancy resource centers; establishment of Alternatives to Abortion program; Safe Place for Newborns Act; ban abortion of viable infants; ban web-cam abortions; whistleblower protection for abortion workers; annual on-site, unannounced inspections of abortion clinics; no marketing of baby body parts from abortion; abortion clinics abide by Ambulatory Surgical Center Regulations; abortion clinics have complication plans on file with Department of Health; ban abortion when baby has heartbeat and can feel pain; ban abortion when Roe v Wade is overturned; increase tax credits for pregnancy resource centers; increase requirement for malpractice insurance; ban abortion for race, gender, or Down syndrome wSimon’s Law - protect parental rights for minor child’s healthcare.
These efforts have resulted in abortion numbers dropping to 1,354 in 2019, the lowest number since Roe. The numbers for the current year are on track to be even lower. Pro-life laws are clearly making a life-saving difference in Missouri. In addition to these falling abortion numbers, all but one Missouri abortion clinic has closed. This last clinic, which is in St. Louis, has been on the verge of closing for over a year after the Missouri Department of Health (DOH) refused to renew the clinic’s license. This clinic has had 75 ambulances in the last 10 years, and an on-site DOH inspection revealed multiple violations of health and safety standards. While a state commission overturned the Department of Health's decision not to issue a license to the abortion facility, planning is ongoing to appeal this decision. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the burden of complying with the many pro-life laws in Missouri has forced the St. Louis abortion clinic to move its main operation 30 minutes east of St. Louis in Fairview Heights, Illinois, where there are basically no restrictions on abortion. Unfortunately, that clinic is attracting many Missouri women. However, even if Missouri becomes the first state without an abortion clinic, the battle for life will continue. The anti-life forces won’t stop working to overturn the Missouri restrictions on abortion as well as advancing other anti-life issues such as embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and euthanasia.
Currently, Missouri voters will be considering a state constitutional amendment on the August 2 primary that would expand Medicaid eligibility for another 100,000 people. The amendment contains no language to prevent taxpayer funding for abortion through Medicaid. The only protection is the much-threatened Hyde Amendment which must be passed every year as part of the federal budget. The Medicaid expansion amendment is being supported by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League. Missouri Right to Life PAC opposes this amendment.
While the battle with anti-life forces continue, Missouri’s success in closing abortion clinics and reducing abortion numbers serves as a great example of how to win the fight for life. Missouri, the Show Me State, has truly become the Show Me Life State!
PAM FICHTER is Past President and current Eastern Region Chairman of Missouri Right to Life.