Mike Parson joins legal effort to convince Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

Missouri governor signs onto legal brief in Mississippi abortion case

By: - July 29, 2021 3:31 pm

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks to the media from his office in the state Capitol (photo courtesy of Missouri Governor’s Office).

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has added his name to the growing list of GOP elected officials asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Parson and 11 Republican governors submitted an amicus brief on Thursday in a Mississippi case weighing whether state laws that ban abortions before fetal viability are constitutional.

The governors, led by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, argue that the regulation of abortion should be left up to the states.

“A state may permit abortion. A state may ban abortion. A state may chart a middle ground,” the brief said, later arguing that taking the issue out of federal politics “should lower the proverbial temperature in these debates. No longer would abortion define the confirmation process for Justices. No longer would the issue dominate presidential campaigns.”

The case centers around Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The state originally argued the law complied with existing precedent. But last week, Mississippi’s argument was reframed to ask the court to overturn its decision in Roe that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is able to survive outside the womb.

Lower courts blocked the Mississippi statute. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last year, just months after Justice Amy Coney Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley filed his own amicus brief in the case earlier this week.

Throughout his time as governor, Parson has taken a firm anti-abortion stance.

His department of health attempted to shut down the state’s only abortion provider — a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis — by refusing to renew its license. The clinic sued, and an administrative law judge ruled the denial was improper.

Parson replaced the administrative law judge who ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor last month.

He also signed legislation in 2019 criminalizing abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. A federal injunction has blocked the law from going into effect, and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis will review whether it is constitutional.

More recently, his efforts to convince lawmakers to extend a tax on hospitals and other healthcare providers that is crucial to Medicaid funding earned him the criticism from anti-abortion advocates. They wanted the tax to include language prohibiting Planned Parenthood from being a Medicaid provider, something Parson fought against out of concern it could put the state out of compliance with federal law.

In their brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, Parson and his fellow GOP governors argue the court should “take this opportunity to correct the mistakes in its abortion jurisprudence and recognize that the text and original understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment have nothing to do with abortion.”

Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Parson is “forcing his state’s post-Roe reality onto Mississippians. We’ve warned about this day for a long time. If only Gov. Parson could spend the same amount of energy curbing the COVID-19 surge, which could actually save lives and improve worsening public health outcomes in our state.”

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.

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