Birth control, fertility care not addressed in Missouri ‘trigger law’

Following the leaked Supreme Court draft that would overturn Roe v. Wade, there has been concern about how Missouri’s “trigger law” would impact other forms of birth control — like intrauterine devices and emergency contraception — and fertility care like in vitro fertilization.

However, abortion-rights groups say the trigger law will not impact access to those reproductive services, despite claims to the contrary. 

What is the ‘trigger law’?

In 2019, state lawmakers passed a bill that was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson that banned abortions at or after 8 weeks, with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. That part of the bill was taken to court, where a federal judge blocked those provisions.

More:Federal appeals court blocks sweeping Missouri abortion law

However, the bill also includes a “trigger” that bans abortion statewide if Roe is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. That measure goes into effect following an opinion from the attorney general, a proclamation from the governor or a concurrent resolution passed by the legislature, all of which are Republican-controlled entities that would likely move to enact the law immediately.

Will Missouri’s ‘trigger law’ ban methods of birth control like IUDs and Plan B? 

No. According to a May  tweet from Planned Parenthood, “Birth control does not meet the criteria for the definition of abortion under MO law. Since birth control prevents pregnancy (and does not end an existing pregnancy), overturning #Roe will not block access to birth control.”

This is because emergency contraception is not the same thing as the abortion pill. The abortion pill ends pregnancy. Emergency contraception prevents an egg from being released and fertilized.

Hormonal IUDs work the same way, preventing an egg from being released and also by thickening cervical mucus, which traps sperm and prevents it from reaching the egg. Copper IUDs contain no hormones, but the copper ions create an environment toxic to sperm, killing the sperm before it reaches the egg.

The 2019 abortion ban only applies to those who are already pregnant.

More:Abortion is still legal in Missouri. Here’s what could happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Will the ‘trigger law’ impact IVF?

No. The trigger law doesn’t specifically mention IVF, nor do other bills currently in Missouri Legislature.

“Just the facts: Current Missouri abortion law does NOT jeopardize #BirthControl (like IUDs), Emergency Contraception (EC or”Plan B”) or fertility care (IVF), and neither do any of the bans we’re currently watching in #MoLeg,” said a May 5 tweet from Pro-Choice Missouri.

Susan Szuch is the health and public policy reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter @szuchsm. Story idea? Email her at sszuch@gannett.com.

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