A Missouri state representative who once beheaded a chicken on Facebook to make a point about abortion wants police officers to stop women from terminating pregnancies.
Mike Moon, a Republican Missouri state representative, introduced a bill he calls the Right to Due Process Act, which redefines a fertilized egg as a person with all the constitutional rights of any other citizen. The suggested law then requires police and the courts to “affirmatively enforce” the Missouri constitution’s due process clause which guarantees legal rights to people, effectively turning any attempt to terminate a pregnancy into murder.
Moon also filed a bill to “abolish” abortion in Missouri, and specifically cites “murder by abortion”. The law makes no exemptions for rape, incest or apparently for women who have pregnancies which are not viable and potentially fatal, since the proposals strike references to abortion exemptions for maternal health.
Despite multiple calls to his office, Moon’s legislative assistant said he was not available for comment.
His bill did not lay out how, exactly, law enforcement would “affirmatively enforce” such a provision. But a frequent collaborator of Moon’s, the state representative Ben Baker, said the legal focus was right to be on conferring rights to fetuses.
“The main thing for me, is understanding again – if it is a life and we believe it is a life then it should have rights just like the rest of us,” said Baker. “But how we go about that line of where we would forcefully deal with that situation – I think we have to take a lot of things into consideration,” he said.
Baker said he would seriously consider such a proposal as Moon’s, although he is not a co-sponsor at this time.
Abortion is legal in all 50 US states because of the landmark 1973 US supreme court decision Roe v Wade. While the decision is imperiled by an abortion case scheduled to come before the court in March, it remains in force across the country.
Both Moon’s bills are long-shots. The “due process” act has only one co-sponsor: representative Jeff Shawan who did not respond to a request for comment. The bill to abolish abortion has no co-sponsors.
“Representative Moon’s bills rarely receive hearings and rarely make it to full score votes,” said M’Evie Mead, the director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri. “His desire in this debate is focused on getting a lot of attention,” she said. She said policies to limit sexual and reproductive health services have “costs, real human costs”.
The bill is a reminder of an eight-week abortion ban law Missouri passed less than a year ago, and mirrors other extreme proposals from states such as Ohio.
In Ohio, a group of extreme anti-abortion lawmakers proposed a law which created a new crime, “abortion murder”, and required doctors to try to “re-implant” ectopic pregnancies, a procedure which does not exist in medical science.
Such proposals represent a fissure in the anti-abortion world. Mainstream groups such as the anti-abortion March for Life continue to focus on proposals to winnow down women’s rights incrementally. Others, like Moon, feel emboldened by the Trump administration’s conservative record on appointing judges and its public rhetoric to ban abortion and want to see how courts handle any challenge.
Moon is a longtime anti-abortion extremist. In 2017, he decapitated a live chicken on Facebook to call for an end to abortion. In the video, he then removed one of the chicken’s internal organs, and said Missourians needed to get “to the heart of the matter”, and ban abortion.
Anti-abortion activists commonly compare abortion to slavery, and Moon has also sought to make that comparison literally. He introduced a bill to create an abortion exhibit at the Missouri state museum, one that would be required to be shown alongside exhibits on slavery.
When a statue of the Greek goddess of agriculture Ceres was removed from the state capitol’s rotunda for cleaning, Moon opposed its replacement, arguing it was “pagan” and offensive to Christians.
Just this session alone, Moon has introduced bills to require internet service providers to block “obscene” websites or face penalties (later withdrawn); to allow parents to opt their children out of sex education in public schools; and a bill to prohibit doctors from treating children with gender dysphoria with hormones or surgery, under penalty of losing their license.
In addition to his work against abortion, Moon is the co-chair of the Missouri chapter of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. The Christian group pushes legislation to enshrine rightwing Judeo-Christian values into law through public declarations, such as “In God We Trust” placards, and “religious freedom” laws used to deny services to people of other faiths and beliefs.
“These abortion bills are a key part of a larger agenda to codify a far-right evangelical Christian America,” said Rachel Laser, the president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In 2019, Missouri was one of a handful of states which passed a ferociously anti-abortion law called “heartbeat bills”, which bans abortion at six weeks (in Missouri’s case, abortion is banned at eight weeks). But Missouri’s law was not just a six-week abortion ban.
It also held that if the eight-week ban was found unconstitutional, which it almost certainly would be, then another ban at 14 weeks would go into effect. If that is found unconstitutional, then 18 weeks, and if that too is found unconstitutional, then at 20 weeks. The law also held that if Roe v Wade were ever overturned, the state would automatically outlaw abortion.
Missouri’s health department has repeatedly attempted to shutter its last remaining abortion clinic in St Louis. It denied the clinic a license to operate, which is now being challenged in court.