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Anti-abortion organizers prepare for post-Roe realities in Missouri and Illinois

Mary Maschmeier, the founder and president of Defenders of the Unborn, celebrates the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v Wade as Ritika Chand-Berfeld, of Webster Groves, protests
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
From right: Mary Maschmeier, the founder and president of Defenders of the Unborn, based in St. Charles, rallies in celebration of a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, while Ritika Chand-Berfeld, of Webster Groves, protests the decision on June 24 outside Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri in the Central West End.

Editor’s Note: The guests claimed that “contraceptives can cause what’s called abortifacients,” a drug that causes an abortion. That’s not true. Contraceptives, including Plan B, do not cause an abortion. They prevent fertilization. Pregnancy only occurs when a fertilized egg has been implanted in the wall of the uterus.

A guest also claimed that “for a woman to take contraception of any form, it is not healthy for her.” The medical community agrees that while there are some risks associated with birth control, “all methods of contraception are considered okay for healthy women.”

We spoke with abortion rights organizers earlier this week.

It’s been nearly a month since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Except in cases of a medical emergency, abortion is banned in Missouri. Now, anti-abortion activists are looking ahead to what is next for their organizations.

072222_MN_MaryMaschmeier_Westbrook.jpg
Miya Norfleet
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St. Louis Public Radio
Mary Maschmeier is the founder and president of Defenders of the Unborn. Brian Westbrook is the founder and executive director of Coalition Life.

Brian Westbrook, founder and executive director of Coalition Life, and Mary Maschmeier, founder and president of Defenders of the Unborn, joined St. Louis on the Air to share what they are focusing on in a post-Roe environment.

“What we’re looking for is making abortion unthinkable,” said Westbrook. “If we look back in our history and think ‘Why did we ever think that abortion is OK?’ — that’s the goal of our organization.”

Maschmeier said her organization works with service providers to provide housing and other needs to new parents who initially sought abortions.

Anti-abortion organizers prepare for post-Roe realities in Missouri and Illinois

“If a [parent] needs housing, we provide that. We help them find housing. Sometimes we pay the deposit and the first couple months of rent,” Maschmeier said. “Whatever needs the mom has that brought her to the abortion clinic is what we do for them. Moms need medical care for their pregnancy and for their children. … Whatever that need is to care for that baby determines what we do.”

Coalition Life and Defenders of the Unborn also organize in Illinois. The organizations plan to expand their efforts there as abortion providers are seeing a surge in interest. And, despite last month’s victory for anti-abortion advocates in the Supreme Court, Maschmeier said her work isn’t done.

“The Human Life Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] is the only thing that will suffice,” she said.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Miya is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."

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