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Missouri

Trigger Law Statutory Cite(s)

Does this law have a potential impact on IVF/Reproductive medicine?

Why or why not?

  • Seemingly no impact on IVF or other ART procedures.
  • The statute does not appear to be applicable to IVF and reproductive medicine services prior to implantation of embryos.
  • The first sub-section defines abortion as the act of prescribing or using any means with the intent of destroying the life of an embryo or fetus in its mother’s womb.
  • The second section of the definition explicitly defines abortion as the “intentional termination of the pregnancy of a mother… with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth or to remove a dead unborn child.”
  • An unborn child is defined to include everything the moment of conception including a zygote, morula, blastocyst, embryo, and fetus, but this term is used in the context of abortion. 

Does this law explicitly reference IVF, assisted reproductive technology or reproductive medicine?

There are no explicit references to IVF or reproductive medicine services. 

Are there any penalties in this law that could apply to ART procedures?

The law does not appear to be applicable to ART procedures. 

Relevant definitions

  • Abortion” is defined as “[t]he act of using or prescribing any instrument, device, medicine, drug, or any other means or substance with the intent to destroy the life of the embryo or fetus in his or her mother’s womb” or “[t]he intentional termination of the pregnancy of a mother by using or prescribing any instrument, device medicine, drug, or other means with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth or to remove a dead unborn child.”
  • Conception” is defined as “the fertilization of the ovum of a female by sperm of a male.”
  • An “unborn child” is defined as “the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth and at every stage of its biological development, including the human conceptus, zygote, morula, blastocyst, embryo, and fetus.”
  • A “medical emergency” is defined as “a condition which, based on reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert the death of the pregnant woman or for which delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
  • Reasonable medical judgment” is defined as “a medical judgment that would be made by a reasonably prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical conditions involved.”
  • However, a separate part of the code states that “[t]he life of each human being begins at conception” (Mo Rev. Stat. § 1.205.).
  • The section further defines the terms “unborn child” and “unborn children” to “include all unborn child or children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.” 

Do the definitions/terms of the trigger law apply to other areas of state code?

The definitions apply throughout the chapter of Missouri law entitled “Regulation of Abortions”. 

What is the “trigger” for this law to take effect?

The trigger law will only become effective if one of three actions occurs:
  • The Attorney General of Missouri notifies the revisor of statutes that the Supreme Court has overruled Roe and that it is “reasonably probable” that the section would be upheld as constitutional or by way of constitutional amendment or Congressional action the state’s authority to regulate abortion in accordance with the trigger law has been restored or granted.
  • Alternatively, the law can become effective if either the Governor of Missouri issues a proclamation, or
  • The Missouri General Assembly adopts a concurrent resolution recognizing that the authority to regulate abortion in accordance with the trigger law has been restored either by the Supreme Court, constitutional amendment, or Congressional action.

Key provisions: What does the law prohibit and when does it apply?

  • The law provides that “no abortion shall be performed or induced upon a woman, except in cases of medical emergency.”
  • The Act explicitly shields women who undergo abortions in violation of the law from liability for conspiracy: “[a] woman upon whom an abortion is performed or induced in violation of this subsection shall not be prosecuted for a conspiracy to violate the provisions of this subsection.” 

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