Gov. Mike Parson

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

Photo by Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

The elected prosecutor in Jackson County (Kansas City) reminded Missouri Gov. Mike Parson that he was not elected to his position when saying that he will be “held accountable” for signing into law a ban on abortion after eight weeks, even in cases of incest and other forms of rape.

“As a prosecuting attorney, I’ve seen first-hand the toll that rape, incest, and unplanned pregnancies take on women,” said Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who chairs the Missouri Democratic Party.

“It’s not the government or Governor Mike Parson’s place to get involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy. This is an extreme, unconstitutional ban that is cruel to women, including women who are survivors of rape and incest.”

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon), passed the Missouri House of Representatives 110-44. One supporter of House Bill 126, state Representative Barry Hovis (R-Cape Girardeau), said on the House floor that there is something called “consensual rape” and that it is more common than “a gentlemen jumping out of the bushes,” based on his experience in law enforcement.

Doctors who violate the new law’s provisions could face felony charges and jail time.

Medical professionals who specialize in bringing pregnancies to term sided with the elected prosecutor, not the un-elected governor.

“As providers of obstetric care, we all too often see the real risks of pregnancy – risks that only increase as pregnancy progresses, and risks that can lead to serious morbidity and even mortality,” the Missouri Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wrote in The American last week.

“Missouri currently stands at 41 out of 50 states, making us one of the states with the highest rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. This legislation will only serve to increase the numbers in Missouri and put our patients at a greater risk.”

Without responding to the specifics of criticism from the state’s medical professionals who specialize in pregnancy and childbirth, Parson insisted the bill “protects women’s health” in his statement about signing it into law.

Previously asked about signing a bill into law that criminalizes a woman who aborts a fetus that was the product of rape, even rape by a family member, Parson responded, “We think all life has value.”

Parson is a former Polk County sheriff and dairy farmer who was the state’s Republican lieutenant governor when elected Gov. Eric Greitens resigned under investigation for felony invasion of privacy and fundraising ethics.

“Ob-gyns and other women’s health care providers should not be threatened with criminal penalties for delivering evidence-based, necessary health care,” the state’s obstetricians and gynecologists wrote here last week.

“HB 126 would force clinicians to decide between their patient’s needs and facing criminal proceedings. All clinicians must be able to practice medicine that is informed by their years of medical education, training, experience, and the available evidence, freely and without threat of criminal punishment.”

Kansas City’s elected prosecutor had a message for Missouri’s unelected governor and his party, which introduced and passed the bill. She put this new law into the Missouri Republican legacy of Todd Akin, who was leading a race for U.S. Senate when he said in a televised interview that women’s bodies have a way of “shutting down” pregnancies caused by “legitimate rape.”

“Missouri’s latest expansion of anti-choice legislation, for the first time, expands the denial of bodily autonomy to survivors of rape and incest who become pregnant,” Baker stated.

“Sadly, this is the next extreme step in the evolution of the party of Todd Akin. Across Missouri we’re seeing a profound visceral reaction to the governor’s broad expansion of the denial of the right to choose and this ultra-extremist legislation. We support a woman’s right to choose. Period. We will and we must hold Governor Mike Parson and Republicans in the Missouri Legislature accountable for this disgusting policy.”

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