JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Could Missouri’s abortion ban prevent businesses and conventions from coming to the state?
The National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is still looking for where to hold their 2025 conference and while St. Louis and Kansas City are on the list, the organization is deciding if state policies like abortion should be a factor.
“I think we’re going to be written off the list for a lot of conventions,” Sen. Greg Razer (D-Kansas City) said Wednesday. “They say you jump into these social issues and they are going to run and that’s what we are seeing.”
Democrats like Razer say it was only a matter of time until the state’s trigger law affected business.
“I think we’re going to see conventions that would be coming to St. Louis or that would be Kansas City, throughout the state, moving,” Razer said. “This is something we’ve been warned about.”
Within minutes of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month, Missouri became the first state to ban abortion. The state’s trigger law makes all abortions illegal except for medical emergencies.
The General Assembly passed the “Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act” in 2019. Within the legislation, there’s a “trigger law,” meaning abortion would be abolished with a proclamation from the governor or the attorney general. The proclamation was signed minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court issued the decision by Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
Hours after the decision was released, Planned Parenthood announced it stopped abortions in Missouri. The only clinic left that performed the procedure was in St. Louis in the Central West End.
“These are really anti-democratic groups who do not want the people of this state to set their own laws and I think that’s irresponsible and I think it’s anti-democratic,” U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) said.
Republicans like Hawley say the state’s law isn’t changing.
“It is vital that the people of Missouri not be held hostage by any corporation or woke group that wants to try and force the people of Missouri to change their laws,” Hawley said. “If Disney can’t blackmail Florida, these groups are not going to succeed in blackmailing Missourians.”
Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, testified in front of a U.S. Senate committee Tuesday, telling members the clinic in southern Illinois has tripled the number of patients since the Supreme Court’s decision, saying wait times went from three days to three weeks.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement, “Kansas City is committed to offering an equitable, welcoming, and inclusive environment for everyone, including our visitors. That commitment did not change with a flawed Supreme Court decision and will never change.”
In a tweet earlier this week, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said “abortion bans are bad for business.”
Melanie Marquez Parra, the chief communications officer for NACAC, told Missouri Chief Capitol Bureau reporter Emily Manley the organization’s board of directors and leadership team will meet later this summer to decide what parameters will be used in their decision.
Until then, “We are pausing our site selection process to weigh a range of factors. Kansas City and St. Louis are among several sites under consideration while our organization takes time this summer to discuss guiding principles for how event locations are chosen.”
Visit KC works with organizations like the NACAC to bring conventions and business to the Kansas City area. In a statement, they said they are watching this matter closely.
“Equality, diversity, and inclusion are principles and practices that we uphold for every visitor and resident regardless of race, gender, background, preferences, experiences, and choices. Kansas City is open and welcoming to all. Visit KC is a nonprofit organization and must remain neutral in all matters political and otherwise. Though Visit KC is traditionally an apolitical organization, we do not condone legislation that is discriminatory in nature. We continue to advocate against and watch this matter closely.”
Razer said he’s not surprised the ban is affecting business and expects it to continue unless lawmakers make a change. He is one of the Democrats calling for a special session to fix the law to protect all types of birth control and to define medical emergencies.
“There is a lot of ambiguity in this law and quite frankly, I’m not sure it’s there unintentionally,” Razer said. “We need to clarify that Plan B and an IUD are legal and that doctors can perform surgeries on women with ectopic pregnancies. Until we clarify this, this is a dangerous place for women to be.”
The law defines a medical emergency 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 a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
Parson said earlier this month all forms of contraceptives are still legal in Missouri.
Last year, in Missouri there were 48 abortions performed at an abortion facility in Missouri. In June, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce also said that crime is hurting the state’s economy. According to the Chamber of Commerce’s “Safer Missouri, Stronger Missouri” report, Missouri has the fourth-highest rate of gun deaths in the country. Employers around the state have warned the Chamber of Commerce something has to be done in order to grow the workforce and investments.
“Crime is out of control unfortunately all across the country but we’re seeing it in jurisdictions in our state too where you have prosecutors that will not prosecute violent criminals,” Hawley said. “The answer is to prosecute criminals and to put more cops on the street.”
The Show-Me State is a top 10 state for a host of undesirable crime measures. Missouri also ranks sixth in violent crime per capita and ninth highest in property crimes per person.
“We have violent crime happening in our cities all the time and the response from the state legislature is a shrug of the shoulders,” Razer said. “They [Republicans] want to be tough on crime but not so tough that they will try to take the guns out of the hands of someone we know to be mentally unstable.”
Here is the list of recommendations from the report:
- Deploy evidence-based and hot spot approaches to crime reduction
- increase and protect tools to support policing
- Address substance misuse and mental health
- Reduce recidivism among those on probation or parole
- Improve training and employment opportunities for incarcerated individuals
- Increase public safety staffing
- Improve public perception of law enforcement
- Increase prosecutorial consistency and transparency