Missouri State Representative is an Embryo Vigilante

Surprise, surprise. Missouri’s state representatives are coming for our rights—again. This time, the threat comes in the form of an ultra-archaic resolution pushed forward by Republican Missouri Rep. Mike Moon. Because once again, as we all know, none-uterus-having humans are just so good at proposing laws and regulations regarding other people’s bodies.

This latest anti-choice resolution, originally proposed by Moon two months ago, would recognize fetuses as human beings in the Missouri state constitution. More specifically, the bill seeks to grant the right to life to “unborn children at every stage of biological development”—a tactic that reproductive justice organizers are certainly familiar with.

This past Tuesday, a Missouri House committee passed the resolution, while making a few amendments: All exceptions that originally existed within the bill for cases of rape, incest, or births that would threaten the life of the mother were also removed. According to Moon, his goal in proposing this bill (a bill, which, you know, seriously restricts women’s rights and undermines their own agency in making decisions about their health, their body and their future) is to “set a foundation in the Constitution that protects the health of women and unborn children.” Ironic, no? And the best part? Moon’s proof of expertise: “As a former embryo myself, I want that protection for all embryos, present and future.”

*rubs temples*

That’s cute. I was an embryo once, too. And yet, that somehow still doesn’t make me an expert on anyone else’s body but my own. I was an embryo once, and that still doesn’t give me license to propose legislative measures that infringe on the rights of other currently living, breathing people. People being embryos at one point is biology doing what biology does because that’s how babies are made. I mean, let’s level with each other for a second here, Mike—former embryo to former embryo—are you really trying to pass off your level 1 basic grade sexism as some honorable heroism on behalf of…embryos everywhere?

But maybe he’s coming from some deeply-felt sense of gratitude. Maybe his sincere appreciation for life and the opportunity to live it has turned him into an embryo vigilante. But from my vantage point—and again, former embryo to former embryo here—my appreciation for life also involves a consideration of my rights while I’m living it. My appreciation for life involves an unwavering commitment to advocating and protecting my own autonomy and access to resources, in addition to autonomy and access for other marginalized communities. I appreciate my life enough—again, as a former embryo (specificity is key, amirite?)—to call bullshit when I see bullshit. And this resolution is bullshit.

To be clear, the “right to life” argument is nothing new. However, its persistence is certainly concerning, especially in a state like Missouri, where there remains only one clinic in the entire state that still performs abortions. For Missouri residents who may want an abortion, this produces a clear challenge in regard to transportation. This, in addition to Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period required by law, means that people are forced to either figure out round-trip transportation twice, or find housing for their 3-day-long wait. And then of course, for working class people, many of whom may have families—in which case childcare becomes an additional hurdle as well—taking off work for that long might not be feasible. For individuals under 18, an impromptu 3-day-long trip across the state becomes a relatively insurmountable challenge. Abortions are still legal in the state of Missouri, though barely, and even then, they remain incredibly inaccessible.

Not to mention Senators in Missouri are also currently seeking an indictment against Mary Kogut, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, on charges of contempt for essentially refusing to violate the privacy of her patients. So. Things are pretty rough in the Show Me State right now. Missouri is notorious for its conservative track record in regard to reproductive rights. Missouri’s reproductive justice organizers and their allies could probably use all the support we can give them. Check out Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri’s Facebook page for more details on how to get involved and stay in the loop.

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Jacqui Germain is a published poet and freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her work is focused on historical and contemporary iterations of black, brown and indigenous resistance. She is also a Callaloo Fellow, and author of "When the Ghosts Come Ashore," published through Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press.

Jacqui Germain is a published poet and freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri.

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