The far-right has already shown they don’t support bodily autonomy for women.
At what point does a fetus become a person, with all the associated rights and protections? If legislation recently filed in Missouri passes, that moment could be at conception.
The bill is called the Abolition of Abortion in Missouri Act and would establish human rights before birth. It does allow for a “defense” for the mother in case of “duress,” and for the times when a doctor’s efforts to save the life of the mother results in the “accidental or unintentional” death of the fetus.
However, the bill offers no freedom to seek an abortion, even at the earliest stages of fetal development, nor does it offer options for rape victims, including very young girls.
There also does not seem to be an explicit carve-out for the case where the mother’s life or health are at risk — only for when the fetus dies despite all efforts to keep both alive. The text reads, in part:
“The affirmative defense of duress for the offense of murder shall be available where the victim is an unborn child and the defendant is the child’s mother. This act also provides it shall be a justifiable defense if a medical procedure is performed by a licensed physician on a pregnant female to avert the death of the female which the [sic] results in the accidental or unintentional death of the unborn child and all reasonable alternatives to save the life of the unborn child were unavailable or were unsuccessful.”
A current battle in Texas is being fought by a mother who already has children and has learned that she is — in her wanted third pregnancy — carrying a fetus incompatible with life and that the pregnancy is putting her own life in jeopardy.
Despite that state’s supposed exceptions for the life of the mother, she’s had to beg a court for permission to end the pregnancy that has already landed her in the emergency room repeatedly and that could prevent her from ever carrying a pregnancy to term again — or, in the worst-case scenario, could deprive her living, breathing children of their mother.
After she received permission from a judge to have her doctor perform the necessary and life-saving procedure, the Texas Attorney General and State Supreme Court both moved to block her access, leaving her in limbo during a medical situation that could turn quickly.
The Texas patient’s experience showcases what happens when severe restrictions are placed on abortion access, with too-narrow exceptions to save lives.
Missouri’s bill will likely have similarly devastating results if passed.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.