Missouri: the first ‘abortion-free’ state?

Even before last year, CDC data showed the state had the second-lowest abortion rate in the entire country. 

Downtown St. Louis (Chris Yunker/Flickr).

Earlier this month, the pro-life group Operation Rescue released an investigative report declaring Missouri as America’s first “abortion-free” state.

This achievement is fitting to commemorate on National March for Life day.

The report indicates that Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is no longer scheduling abortions; as this was the last abortion clinic in Missouri, there are currently no facilities performing the deadly procedure across the Show Me State.

Planned Parenthood and their media allies dispute the claim but the aforementioned location reported no abortions in December and now refers women 15 miles across the Mississippi River to a massive abortion facility in Illinois. (It remains debatable whether BJC Medical Center, with campuses throughout St. Louis, offers abortions.)

Regardless, the pro-life group Defenders of the Unborn organized a rally last week to celebrate the news and the number of abortions in Missouri decreasing significantly in recent years. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, fewer than 50 surgical abortions were performed in the state during 2020.

Even before last year, CDC data showed the state had the second-lowest abortion rate in the entire country. That rate dropped by 35 percent between 2016 and 2018.

The left predictably has overreacted to this news with misinformation, demonization and craven rationalizations.

The efforts to decrease abortions go back many decades.

Since the 1970s, Missourians have led an active pro-life movement. Catholic parishes have held large vigils at abortion facilities going back nearly a half-century. The Archdiocese of St. Louis even opened a pro-life convent next to the city’s Planned Parenthood, and also supports local pro-lifers through prayer and hospitality.

Missouri Right to Life is one of the largest affiliates in America. Pro-life candidates are abundant and successful across the state; both Missouri’s U.S. senators oppose abortion; and Republican Governor Mike Parson signed the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act” in 2019.

One of the most comprehensive “heartbeat” bills in the country, it contains gestational age bans at eight, 14, 18, and 20 weeks of pregnancy. It also bans abortions on the basis of race, sex, or Down-syndrome diagnosis. The Show Me State’s other pro-life laws include a three-day waiting period, along with informed and parental-consent laws.

Missourians also assist pregnant women in need. The Respect Life Apostolate, an agency of the Archdiocese, awards large grants to places like Birthright that assist pregnant and parenting mothers.

On the economic side, beginning 15 years ago, Missouri taxpayers became eligible for tax credits — up to 70 percent of their donation — if they supported pregnancy-help centers. Recent studies show qualifying centers served over 32,000 clients.

As we saw Thursday, President Joe Biden — seemingly a puppet of NARAL — will change federal policy wherever possible to fight against the unborn.

Missouri’s multi-faceted strategy of church engagement, legislation, passionate activism, and overall support for women can serve as a model for other states.