Senate Bill 96 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. This is another unconstitutional effort by Missouri politicians to ban abortion in our state. This inflammatory bill does nothing to fight discrimination on the basis of gender, race, or ability. It does nothing to support people with disabilities and their families. This bill is about one thing only: extremist politicians’ determination to eliminate Missourians’ access to safe and legal abortion.
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 96 forces physicians to act as government agents, shaming women into justifying their decision to have a safe and legal medical procedure.
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 96 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 with disabilities and their families. Our legislature should use the money it would have to spend defending this unconstitutional law in court 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 those with disabilities.