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KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

Missouri abortion rights advocates say that while new barriers exist, Missouri is not returning to a “pre-Roe world”

Chimene Schwach 062422 Protest Photo.jpg
Rebecca Smith
/
KBIA
Chimene Schwach spoke at a somewhat informal gathering the day the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was announced.

It has been just more than a week since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Missouri’s “trigger law,” which outlaws nearly all abortions in the state, was put into effect.

On the day the decision was announced – Friday, June 24th – Mallory Schwarz, the Executive Director of Pro-Choice Missouri, and Chimene Schwach, the Vice President of the Missouri Family Health Council Board, sat down with KBIA’s Rebecca Smith to discuss where abortion rights in the state go from here.

Chimene Schwach: I was with a group of people earlier today – younger women, and we were talking, and they were all just blown away, and they kept asking me, “How did this happen?” and “What do we do now?”

They’re all very scared, and I think that that is how much of America feels – even though most of us who work in the field saw it coming, most people just assumed this was settled law.

Rebecca Smith: So, like you said – your organizations have been preparing for this possibility for a long time, and I wonder now that it’s happened – what’s next?

Mallory Schwarz: We will continue to share education, to share information and resources because we know that 7 in 10 Missourians oppose political interference in access to abortion.

And maybe many haven't let this factor into their political decision making in the past, but it will now, and so we are prepared to rebuild abortion access in Missouri by electing the next generation of home abortion leaders.

And we know that's a long game – we have no illusions about the midterm elections.

Rebecca: You know, more immediately, what would you say to those Missourians who are scared?

Mallory: It's devastating –

Chimene: You know…

Mallory: Go ahead, Chimene.

Chimene: I was gonna say, as devastating as all of this is – and it is really devastating – is that it is important for people to remember that there are places where abortion is still legal and very accessible.

And while we will be spending a lot more time – literally getting there and more money to access that service, there are there are places where abortion is still legal

Rebecca: Mallory?

Mallory: I want to echo Chimene. Pro-Choice Missouri is never going to stop supporting, respecting, and having love for people seeking abortions.

And as more people are forced to flee their state to safe haven states, like Illinois, to access an abortion, pro-choice Missouri clinic escorts will be there to walk with them – to support and protect people just trying to get from their cars to a health care appointment.

There is a resource for young people in Missouri. It's the “Right By You” text hotline. You can go to rightbyyou.org, and teens – and really anybody – can text the hotline and receive all options, pregnancy support, and resources and information.

It's all anonymous, and it's a safe place for people to ask questions and figure out how to get access to care.

There is going to be a lot of messaging and fears about going back to pre-Roe world, but we’re not. Medicine has made incredible progress in the near 50 years since the Roe v. Wade decision first came down, and so there are ways for people to continue to access safe abortion – in this moment and going forward.

**Note: Chimene Schwach is also a candidate for the Missouri State Representative, House District 47

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.