Stop Putting Lives at Risk: Allow Divorce While Pregnant in Missouri
  1. United States
  2. Mo.
  3. Letter

Stop Putting Lives at Risk: Allow Divorce While Pregnant in Missouri

To: Rep. Gallick, Sen. Brattin, Gov. Parson

From: A constituent in Belton, MO

February 26

I am writing to urge your support for HB 2402 (Aune), which proposes enabling the court to issue a judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation for pregnant individuals. Presently, in Missouri, a pregnant individual or their spouse can initiate divorce proceedings, but the divorce cannot be finalized until after the birth of the child. Tragically, homicide ranks as the leading cause of death among pregnant women in the US, with a higher likelihood of women being murdered during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth compared to the leading obstetric causes of maternal death. A significant portion of these preventable homicides are linked to the deadly combination of intimate partner violence and firearms. Denying a pregnant person the ability to divorce an abusive spouse often heightens the risk of preterm birth and other pregnancy complications. Research indicates that intimate partner violence increases the likelihood of delayed or nonexistent prenatal care, either because abusive partners prevent pregnant spouses from leaving their homes or because fear of abuse or evidence of injuries discourages pregnant individuals from attending appointments. Intimate partner violence during pregnancy is also associated with increased rates of preterm labor, low birth weight, miscarriage, and abortion. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, approximately 25% of women experiencing physical or sexual abuse from their partners also report reproductive coercion, which involves being forced into pregnancy through various means such as sabotaging contraception or marital rape. This tactic is frequently employed by abusive partners to trap their spouses in violent relationships, particularly in states like Missouri where finalizing divorce during pregnancy is prohibited. The current legal landscape in Missouri poses a perilous situation. Pregnant individuals are unable to finalize divorces, abusive partners convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse retain firearm rights, and abortion is outlawed. This combination jeopardizes the lives of Missourians. HB 2402 represents a crucial step towards rectifying these issues, and I implore you to lend your support to this important measure.

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