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Abortion Rights Advocates Rally To Condemn Texas Abortion Law And Potential Missouri Ban

 Abortion rights advocates gather on the steps of the Old Courthouse to object to a recent Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.  Sept. 9, 2021
Chad Davis
St. Louis Public Radio
Abortion rights advocates gather on the steps of the Old Courthouse to object to a recent Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.

St. Louis abortion rights activists and political leaders gathered outside the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Thursday afternoon to protest a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and former state Rep. Cora Faith Walker, all Democrats, joined Planned Parenthood officials and other advocates in condemning the Texas law. Abortion rights advocates are worried that Missouri lawmakers will try to pass the same restriction.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the Texas law last week.

“Under this ban, people no longer have control over their lives, they cannot decide when they become parents and something that will greatly impact the trajectory of their life and their income,” Jones said. “Texas patients are now traveling hundreds of miles out of state to receive reproductive health services, and St. Louis will not sit idly by as we see our family in Texas coming across state lines.”

The Texas ban follows a Missouri law signed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in 2019 that prohibits most abortion procedures after eight weeks. The law is being challenged in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We don’t need more reproductive health restrictions,” Jones said. “Legislators all the way in Jeff City keep telling people here in St. Louis what we can and can’t do with our bodies, and I say enough is enough.”

State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, said she plans to introduce a bill in the Missouri legislature that is similar to the Texas law.

"If Republicans in Missouri do so, that would significantly harm women’s health care rights and access to a healthy abortion,” said Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

“Here, only one abortion clinic is left,” Rodríguez said, referring to Planned Parenthood’s clinic in St. Louis. “The hoops and hurdles that patients have to go through in order to navigate access to abortion care are insurmountable for the vast majority of Missourians.”

Rodríguez called on abortion rights advocates to demand that lawmakers reject a call to ban abortions after six weeks

Bush called on Congress to pass a law codifying the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortions.

“It’s [not a] matter if these bans will spread across the country, it’s a matter of when,” Bush said. “And for Missouri, it’s happening right now.”

Dozens of abortion rights activists attended the rally, including Avery Jones, a 22-year-old Washington University student. She said lawmakers must protect the right to an abortion.

“Even if I’m not going through it right now, other people will and other people in other states are at the moment,” Jones said. “We have to do something, we can’t let it play out with how people want it to play out.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.