Democrats call on Parson to address birth control legality,

JEFFERSON CITY − Democratic leaders from Missouri’s Senate and House of Representatives called on Gov. Mike Parson Monday to address access to birth control and ectopic pregnancies during a special session.

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo (Kansas City) and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (Springfield) sent a letter to Parson on Monday, requesting an “extraordinary session of the Missouri General Assembly to pass narrowly tailored legislation addressing these two issues.”

“We felt coming from both the House and the Senate and the entire caucuses, that shows a united front that this is something that we all desperately care about and want to get done,” Quade said.

Parson said during a news conference on July 1 he planned to call a special session to address tax cuts. Rizzo and Quade wrote in their letter that since Parson already said he would call a special session, addressing these two specific issues would “not result in additional costs to taxpayers.”

Quade said she and Rizzo felt a special session request would help provide guidance for people having trouble deciphering between opinion and law.

“Let’s provide guidance for folks,” she said. “Let’s ease the confusion and fear and make sure that our health care providers feel protected in providing that care.”

Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Parson quickly issued opinions that “triggered” parts of a 2019 law, Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act, after the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade. The law officially outlaws abortion, except in the cases of a medical emergency, in Missouri. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.

“We immediately saw lots of confusion from both our healthcare providers as well as citizens of Missouri in terms of what that law would actually mean,” Quade said.

Quade has already requested Schmitt release a formal statement on the legality of birth control. She said medical providers and legal experts have expressed concern and confusion regarding its legality, along with the definition of a medical emergency as it relates to ectopic pregnancies.

In an emailed statement to KOMU 8, Chris Nuelle, spokesperson for Schmitt’s office, said Missouri law does not prohibit the use or provision of Plan B, or contraception.

Quade told KOMU 8 that a simple statement from Schmitt’s office is not enough.

“We want an official legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office,” Quade said. “This is a very common thing that is asked for of his office, because they are the top prosecutorial office in our state. And we want their official opinion.”

Quade said though a response from both the governor and attorney general would be ideal, she has to be realistic.

“I don’t know that he’s going to say anything, to be honest with you,” Quade said. “But I really hope he does. Especially on the heels of him calling for his own special session dealing with tax cuts. If he wants to bring us all back to Jefferson City to do an additional session, then why don’t we do this while we’re there?”

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is responsible for regulating licensed abortion facilities/providers, and for monitoring all abortions performed.

Rizzo and Quade said the state health department has “confirmed the need for clarity” by its recent public statements, along with statements from Parson and Schmitt’s offices.

“Public statements and social media posts from your office and the attorney general’s office have also confirmed that the level of ambiguity around the law is at such an extreme level to warrant a response from the highest levels of state government,” the Democratic leaders wrote.

Quade says this conversation goes beyond legislators like herself.

“When we have this conversation around abortion, around health, or just reproductive health care, it impacts families, it impacts the children who are already here who are living with those families,” she said. “You know, so it is quite a ripple effect.”