Dalila Omerovic, Staff Writer

When I first found out about the fire at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri, my first thought was that the fire had to be an act of arson. My assumptions turned out to be true. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the fire as a possible hate crime and are even offering a $10,000 reward for information that can lead to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for this crime. The investigation is still ongoing and as of now, there have been no public updates regarding possible suspects.

It is important to note that the clinic in Columbia does not provide abortion services. The only Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortions is in St. Louis. New state requirements for abortion clinics were adopted in 2017 and the St. Louis clinic was the only location able to fulfill them. Sasha Ingber of National Public Radio finds that under the new requirements, “Abortion providers must secure admitting privileges at hospitals located within about 15 minutes from their health centers.” The mandate was created in order to help patients in case they experience any complications from the abortion and could quickly provide them with hospital access. Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Emily Miller addressed these concerns and stated that abortions are already incredibly safe. As a result of the requirements, one clinic exists for all of Missourians seeking abortions. It’s clear to see that the mandates are involved in an effort to limit access to abortion in Missouri. Across the state, there are many who cannot afford to travel to St. Louis if they are in need of an abortion.

If it wasn’t already difficult enough to get an abortion in Missouri, the statehouse advanced a bill to the state Senate this week that would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks for some pregnancies. The other provisions in the bill would create a ban on abortions based on race, sex, or an indication of Down syndrome, and require that both parents are notified before a minor receives an abortion. Representative Judy Morgan from Kansas City has spoken out against the bill, stating that the bill would ‘effectively ban all abortion in Missouri’ and could hurt a lot of people because there are no exceptions included for victims of rape and incest.

Republicans hold both a majority in the Missouri House and Senate, so they may be able to pass the bill. Republican Governor Mike Parson supports the legislation and would likely sign the bill into law. However, the bill’s future remains uncertain. If the law were to be enacted, it could be taken to the courts. Here, the state would hope that their legislation is upheld and even possibly overturn the landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal nationwide.

The political agenda our representatives have been pursuing certainly reflects aspects of Missouri’s political culture. The hate crime at Planned Parenthood earlier this month is a clear example of the extreme lengths opponents of abortion will go to, from creating the strictest restrictions in the nation, to setting buildings that offer reproductive health care on fire. The passage of this bill would set us back in history and have disastrous effects for anyone seeking a safe, legal abortion. Missouri’s state government should not have the ability to regulate women’s reproductive rights in such a scrutinizing and vile manner.