The question in the Missourian headline was simple: “Will the challenge to Roe v. Wade come from Missouri?”

The original question was asked in February, and the reason for the question has become increasingly clear. More than 20 bills have been introduced this year in our state legislature to further restrict the ability of a woman to get an abortion. Some of the bills would go so far as to deny an abortion — even in incidents of incest or rape — and to jail the physician.

HB 126, which comes closest to a denial of reproductive rights, is sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon. His proposed fetal heartbeat law is based on a draft bill from Faith2Action and the Christian-based American Center for Law and Justice. It would prevent abortions from taking place once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy.

The bill specifies that anyone who “knowingly performs or induces an abortion of an unborn child in violation of these provisions, except in the case of a medical emergency, is guilty of a Class B felony and is subject to suspension of his or her professional license.”

Additionally, the bill says, “it is the intent of the state of Missouri that abortion shall not be permitted in the state under any circumstances” except in a medical emergency.

We must also watch what’s happening in Alabama. There, the House of Representatives has passed a near-total ban on abortions. The proposed law states that a doctor caught performing abortions in the state would face up to 99 years in prison. Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins, the bill’s sponsor, said the purpose of his bill is to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Roe v. Wade is misinterpreted by some. Let’s take a quick look.

It started in 1965 with Griswold v. Connecticut. The two defendants in that case were Estelle Griswold, the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and its medical director, Dr. C. Lee Buxton.

They were arrested and fined $100 each for giving a married couple information and medical advice on how to prevent conception as well as prescribing a contraceptive device for the wife’s use, which conflicted with Connecticut’s Comstock Law.

The argument was that the law brought forth a “wide range of questions that implicate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Yes, the 14th Amendment says nothing about contraception or abortion. It does have to do with privacy and the due process of the law.

Justice William O. Douglas, writing for the majority, said that the “Bill of Rights have penumbras (shaded areas), formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance”; that “various guarantees create zones of privacy”; and that “we deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights — older than our political parties, older than our school system.”

Privacy applies “to all invasions on the part of the government and its employees of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life.”

This includes the right of a woman’s privacy to make her own medical decisions.

Roe v. Wade took the law one step beyond Griswold. In simple terms, Justice Henry Blackmun, writing for the majority, said that the woman had the right to an abortion and that the privacy of that decision and her right to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy was hers and hers alone.

Now, in Missouri, the secondary problem with HB 126 is the support of the Republican Party, which claims to want to reduce the government’s intrusion into our personal lives. This bill is, in fact, intruding in our personal lives.

Schroer wants to insert government control in a decision that should be the woman’s right to make. The party of less government has sought to intrude into our bedrooms and personal lives for decades.

Schroer claims that one of the reasons for his bill is that an increased number of deaths from legal abortions has outstripped those from before Roe v. Wade. He says his numbers include both women and female fetuses, which the Missourian has labeled as “misleading.”

In fact, the number of deaths because of abortions has decreased since before Roe v. Wade.


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

HB 126 and similar bills restricting the access to women’s health procedures and facilities must be stopped in their tracks. The premise for HB 126 is false; the bill should not pass through the legislative process or be signed by the governor.

David Rosman is an editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of his commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and InkandVoice.com.

Recommended for you

Join the conversation

When posting comments, please follow our community guidelines:
• Login with a social account on WorldTable.
• Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language or engage in personal attacks.
• Stay on topic. Don’t hijack a forum to talk about something else or to post spam.
• Abuse of the community could result in being banned.
• Comments on our website and social media may be published in our newspaper or on our website.