On Thursday, August 16, Reproaction teamed up with Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri and the Guild of Silly Heathens for a direct action in Columbia, Missouri centering access to medication abortion. This particular event was a part of Reproaction’s Medication Abortion Week of Action. The humidity was high, but the sun had mercy on us as we shared our message with folks walking and driving by the anti-abortion fake clinic we chose as the location of our action. Our message was clear: Pregnant people have the right to choose what’s best for them, and medication abortion is and should remain a safe and a viable option. Ten protesters showed up and held their signs high for abortion access – a right that has been consistently diminished in Missouri to the point that there are only three facilities where people can access abortion.
Abortion access is highly restricted in Missouri thanks to a state legislature that has prioritized legislating women’s bodies over most everything else. At the end of this year’s legislative session, state leaders voted to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements in an attempt to appease anti-abortion activists – a noted minority. This is especially harmful because Planned Parenthood is often the primary source of health care for low-income and underserved communities. One would think defunding an accessible facility that provides needed services to people of color would not gain enough traction in a state where Black pregnant people are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues.
Other notable restrictions in Missouri include state-directed counseling by the physician providing the abortion, after which a 72-hour mandatory waiting period begins. In addition to this, minors must also get the consent of a parent or legal guardian to get an abortion.
Amidst all of these restrictions, and the continued attacks on abortion access, a group of Missourians stood on a sidewalk on a busy street and told their community that medication abortion should not be aggressively regulated and access to it shouldn’t be limited by restrictions. There’s something about visibility actions that invigorates the spirit and strengthens one’s ability to continue what should be an unnecessary struggle for women to possess bodily autonomy!