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6/26/23 Missouri Mondays - Our Bodies! Our Democracy! Fighting for our fundamental rights!

Our Bodies! Our Democracy! Fighting for our fundamental rights and freedoms one year post-Roe!

Welcome to another Missouri Mondays!

“The importance of freedom … to make decisions about one’s own life, one’s own body. The freedom to be free from government interference when it comes to one’s private decisions — decisions that are about heart and home.” –Vice-President Kamala Harris

Saturday marked one year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned constitutional protections for millions and the right to access abortion in the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, leaving determination of abortion regulations up to the states.

Within minutes of the decision Missouri became the first state in the nation to ban abortion. “Even under Roe, abortion was largely inaccessible in Missouri and Missourians were already forced to flee the state to access this basic essential health care,” said Mallory Schwarz, executive director of Abortion Action Missouri (formerly Pro-Choice Missouri).” Even before the Dobbs decision, the GOP majority Missouri legislature and health department “made it more difficult to access abortion, including by instituting waiting periods, parental consent laws, requiring patients receive a pelvic exam for a medication abortion and challenging abortion providers’ licenses.” Missouri Independent

“Advocates for abortion access also say the decision has had spillover effects on other parts of health care, sowing confusion over the legality of contraception and concern over doctors’ discretion to provide emergency abortions. “It’s not just folks who need abortion that are impacted. It is pregnancy care more broadly. It is folks who need medication…to treat their chronic non-pregnancy related medical conditions,” said Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood in the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri. “And this is in a state that is at the bottom of the list for maternal mortality and morbidity.” Missouri Independent

“And the fight over putting abortion rights on the ballot continues to drag through the courts, with opposition from MO Attorney General Andrew Bailey. “While we believe that if Missourians had a chance to vote at the ballot box for abortion access that abortion access would win,” Schwarz said, “right now, there is so much remaining to be seen in what happens in the process that is underway. “In the meantime, we are prepared to, and are using, every tool that we can to continue to build back that access.” Missouri Independent

“A central goal of many abortion rights advocates in Missouri is to put abortion on the ballot — reversing Missouri’s abortion ban by enshrining reproductive rights in the constitution.

Advocates have submitted 11 different versions of a ballot proposal to protect the right to reproductive freedom. Abortion rights won broad support in states where the issue was on the ballot last year, including neighboring Kansas.

The legislature this year failed to pass a bill seeking to make it harder to amend the state constitution through the initiative petition process. Republicans pushing the bill argued initiative petition measures allow laws to be easily changed by big-money out of state interests. Legislative leaders made it clear the effort to increase the majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment was intended to block an abortion initiative. “If the Senate fails to take action on (initiative petition) reform, the Senate should be held accountable for allowing abortion to return to Missouri,” House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres said hours before session adjourned. House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, thanked Plocher for saying “the quiet part out loud.”

Though the legislature did not succeed in changing the initiative petition process, MO Attorney General Andrew Bailey is doing everything he can to prevent it from making the ballot. He is currently arguing he can refuse to certify a fiscal note summary on the cost of an abortion amendment in a case now in the state Supreme Court.” Missouri Independent

This cannot stand. We must take action to help support and elect those who will protect our rights and freedoms and replace those who don’t!

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Missouri in the News

“ACLU calls ‘shenanigans’ on Missouri AG’s refusal to follow court order on abortion petition”

“Complying with an order to certify the fiscal summary on 11 abortion petitions would be an “affirmative irreversible action” that he is entitled to refuse until an appeal is heard, Attorney General Andrew Bailey argued in a court filing Wednesday.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ordered Bailey on Tuesday to issue the certification to State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick “within 24 hours.” That time limit passed at 9 a.m. Wednesday with no action except Bailey filing an appeal with the Missouri Supreme Court.

The ACLU of Missouri, representing Anna Fitz-James, a St. Louis doctor who submitted the petitions, then filed a motion asking Beetem to order Bailey to comply. The ACLU motion argued that the attorney general’s office is not among parties entitled to an automatic stay when a judgment is appealed. That is wrong, Bailey’s office wrote in a response brief filed Wednesday afternoon. While Beetem issued a writ of mandamus, he put in a footnote in his decision stating that if that form of an order was not available, he would have issued a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction. That footnote, Bailey’s office argues in the brief signed by assistant attorney general Samuel Freedlund, means that a 1969 case stating appeals of “an order in the form of a mandatory injunction” results in an automatic stay of the order.

“The reasons behind an automatic stay on appeal of a judgment commanding a litigant to take any affirmative action action are clear,” the brief states. First, it preserves the current situation and avoids confusion if Beetem’s ruling is reversed, it states. “Furthermore, the automatic stay prevents an appeal from being rendered moot by a judicial decision compelling the disputed (and, oftentimes, irreversible) affirmative action prior to any appellate review,” Freedlund wrote.

Beetem has not scheduled a hearing on the ACLU’s motion to enforce his order.

Jefferson City attorney Chuck Hatfield, who worked in the attorney general’s office under Democrat Jay Nixon, said Bailey’s actions, first refusing to certify the fiscal note summary and now refusing to comply with the court order, are unprecedented in his experience. “This has never happened as far as I can tell,” Hatfield said. “This has never happened where an attorney general has refused to certify a fiscal note because he disagrees with the substance of the note. “I don’t think it has ever happened that an attorney general has not obeyed a direct court order like this.” When the appeal was filed to the Supreme Court, he said, Bailey’s office should have asked for a stay of Beetem’s order. “I think they put themselves at risk of being in contempt,” Hatfield said.”


“Missouri lags behind most states in children’s health, report finds”

“Missouri ranks in the bottom third of all states for children’s health, according to a recent report using data from 2021.

The annual Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, released this month, evaluates states on four metrics of child well-being. Those are: health, economic well-being, education and family & community.

For overall child well-being, Missouri ranks near the middle: 28th of 50 states, with 50 being the worst. Other Midwestern states, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin, were in the top ten of all states for child well-being.

Bringing down the state’s overall ranking was one factor in particular: children’s health. Only 15 states in the country had a lower rating for children’s health. “Our health rankings are part of the problem,” said Tracy Greever-Rice, program director of Missouri KIDS COUNT.

“We have work to do here in Missouri around infant mortality,” Greever-Rice said. “And we also have work to do, like many states with large rural populations, in terms of teen and adolescent deaths.”

Only 10 other states had the same or worse rates of child and teen deaths as Missouri, one of the factors included in the health measure. The rate of child and teen deaths was 39 per 100,000 in Missouri in 2021 — up from 32 per 100,000 just two years earlier. The state’s trend mirrored the national trend, which increased from 25 deaths per 100,000 to 30 deaths per 100,000 from 2019 to 2021

Greever-Rice said several factors could have contributed to the state’s relatively high rate of child and teen deaths in 2021. “Particularly at risk — and a change that we’ve seen over the past few years — are adolescent boys in more rural areas,” Greever-Rice said, “and of course, Missouri, like everywhere else has been impacted by the opioid and fentanyl epidemic. “So we just have some high risk populations here that we have work to do around.”

Suicide rates among young people have increased nationally over the last several decades, particularly in rural areas, where mental health services can be scarcer, research has found.

Firearms became the leading cause of kids’ deaths in the United States in 2020, surpassing car accidents. According to Children’s Defense Fund, Missouri was one of ten states that accounted for half of all child and teen gun deaths in the nation from 2011-2020. Bills to limit access to guns failed in the legislature this session.

Other indicators of children’s health — the rates of low birth-weight babies, children without health insurance, and children who are overweight or obese — were all slightly worse in Missouri than on average, according to the report.

The best states for children’s health, according to the report, include Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, while the worst are Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.”





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