Summary of Current (and Most Recent) Abortion and Personhood Laws

  • Missouri law currently prohibits abortion except in cases of a “medical emergency.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.017.
  • Missouri has not amended its abortion statute since the Dobbs decision; however, the Missouri Attorney General issued an opinion letter on June 24, 2022, which “triggered” the total prohibition on abortion noted above. 22 Op. Att’y. Gen. 2022 (2022) (providing notification that Roe was overturned and putting into effect Section 188.017).

Potential impact of the law on and references to IVF and reproductive medicine if any

  • It does not appear that current abortion restrictions in Missouri will apply to IVF or other reproductive medicine services outside the context of a pregnancy.
  • There are no explicit references to IVF or reproductive medicine services in the state’s abortion statutes.
  • The statutes defining “abortion” refer to “an embryo or fetus in its mother’s womb” and “the “intentional termination of the pregnancy.” 

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.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.015 (1).
  • Conception” is defined as “the fertilization of the ovum of a female by sperm of a male.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.015 (3).
  • 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.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.015 (10).
  • A separate part of the code states that “[t]he life of each human being begins at conception.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 1.205 (1).
  • 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.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 1.205 (3).

Penalties for violations of the applicable abortion restrictions

“Any person who knowingly performs or induces an abortion” may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, and a licensed provider may be “subject to suspension or revocation of his or her professional license by his or her professional licensing board.” Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 188.017 (2), 188.058 (1), 188.375(3).

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