Senate Bill 724 is another attempt by lawmakers to ban abortion in Missouri. It co-opts very real concerns about discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and ability to restrict access to safe and legal abortion. Senate Bill 724 does nothing to support people who face discrimination, including women of color and people with disabilities and their families.
This is another unconstitutional effort by politicians to ban abortion in our state. Senate Bill 724 would ban abortions based on sex, race, or prenatal testing that shows a Down syndrome diagnosis, and creates new criminal penalties for physicians who provide abortion. Opponents of abortion continue to seek different ways to intervene in personal and private decisions by playing politics with women’s health.
Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision that must be left to women, in consultation with their families, faith, and health care providers. This bill inserts the state into the exam room in an effort to restrict access to abortion. Senate Bill 724 forces physicians to act as government agents, shaming women into justifying their decision to have a safe and legal medical procedure.
This abortion ban will not make Missouri a better place for women and all people of color. Efforts to ban abortion based on race or sex are fueled by racist stereotypes. Supporters of sex- selective abortion bans claim they are necessary because of Asians who migrate to the U.S. and bring “backward” values with them. This stereotype about the values of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is not only ugly—it’s dangerous. These bans could lead to AAPI patients being singled out for special questioning and even being denied care.
This abortion ban won’t make Missouri a better place for people with Down syndrome. Instead, this is about politics and taking away women’s ability to make personal, private, and often complicated decisions. This bill does nothing to address the serious underlying concerns about discrimination against people with disabilities. This policy is not supported by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Organizations like NDSS focus on educating women and their families about Down syndrome when they undergo prenatal genetic testing. This bill does not do that.
Parents of children with Down syndrome have spoken out in various states against efforts to ban abortions based Down syndrome. These parents have pointed out that the bills are not about helping families and children affected by disabilities, but are instead using those children as a wedge issue in their efforts to ban abortion altogether.
Senate Bill 724 would threaten women’s lives and health by restricting abortion access for women who need them. This bill won’t reduce the need for abortion in our communities. Rather, it will eliminate women’s access to safe, qualified providers, forcing women to travel out of state or take measures into their own hands.
We encourage the Missouri Legislature to focus on measures that will support all people who face discrimination, especially people of color and people with disabilities and their families. Our Legislature should use the money it would have to spend defending this unconstitutional law in court to improve maternal and child health outcomes and to better fund programs like First Steps that support children with disabilities and their families. Expanding Medicaid would ensure increased access to health care for all low-income Missourians, including people of color and people with disabilities.