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50 years after Roe v. Wade, Missouri groups for and against abortion rights continue work

Sunday marks 50 years since the United States Supreme Court issued the historic decision to give women a constitutional right to abortion. This year, however, the anniversary of the decision looks different to pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion groups.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, meaning states now have the individual right to decide whether or not to ban abortion.

“It was roll up our sleeves time, you know?” Bonnie Lee, with Team P.L.A.Y said. “It wasn't, you know, popping a cork and having a party because we know we've been doing this for years.”

Lee was preparing for an anti-abortion rally on the Missouri capitol steps in Jefferson City when she heard word of the Hobbs decision.

“Women will not be harmed by abortion in Missouri,” she said. “But we also know that unplanned pregnancies are not just going to go away because we're human.”

That same weekend in Missouri, pro-abortion advocates organized marches and protests against the overturned decision.

“We are in a world we never expected,” CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Emily Wales told ABC 17 on June 25. “Where care at the local level that is personal and private and often necessary is not available.”

Seven months later, 18 states eliminated access to abortion, including Missouri. Both anti-abortion groups and pro-abortion rights groups are continuing their work.

“We know women are still going to need help, so our role doesn't change,” Lee said. “The work is even stronger to prepare to help and care for and provide the resources and opportunities to women for the life of their children.” 

Over the past few months, Team P.L.A.Y. has taken stances against Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, a medication sometimes mixed with other substances used for medical abortion. The group maintains that the medication is dangerous for women to take, both physically and emotionally, Lee said.

“We know the stories and we help people,” Lee added. “We see [our work as] even more important, and how exciting that is, because we do empower women.”

In a written statement, Planned Parenthood Great Plains added that it plans to continue its work as well.

"A year ago, we marked this anniversary in celebration,” Wales wrote. “Of a person’s right to make their own health care decisions without government interference. Today, our reality is very different.”

Despite the overturned decision, the organization said they’ve expanded its services across Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Some of those expansions include introducing telehealth abortion care in Kansas and opening new health centers. Those centers offer STI testing or treatment, family planning and primary care, they wrote.

Wales added that the group has been continuing to protect access in Kansas. For those in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma she wrote, “we are here, and our doors remain open.”

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Abby Landwehr

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