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28th Feb 2024

Outrage over law that prevents pregnant women from divorcing in Missouri

Anna Martin

In Missouri, a judge can’t finalise a divorce if the woman involved is pregnant

The decades-old law has come to light once again after a recent ruling in Alabama declared that frozen embryos are children.

Since 1973, Missouri statute has refused to allow any divorce to be finalised while the wife is carrying a foetus so that questions of custody and child support can be decided before the couple fully split up.

Democrats in the state have now introduced new legislation in the hopes of having it overturned.

Ashley Aune, a Missouri state representative spoke to to Fox 4 Kansas about her hopes for change for pregnant women.

“It just doesn’t make sense in 2024,” she said.

She explained that one woman in Missouri couldn’t divorce her abusive husband because of the law.

“Not only was she being physically and emotionally abused, but there was reproduction coercion used. When she found out she was pregnant and asked a lawyer if she could get a divorce, she was essentially told no.

“It was so demoralizing for her to hear that. She felt she had no options,” she told the publication.

During a public hearing on the bill, Julie Donelon, CEO of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, staunchly backed it by providing information on domestic abuse.

She explained how research has proven that “Abusers use rape and reproductive coercion to maintain power and control and keep their partner from leaving the marriage.

“By sabotaging birth control, coercing someone into pregnancy, and by forcing rapid repeat pregnancy, the barriers to and danger of leaving an abusive relationship increase exponentially.”

On top of this, she noted the scary fact that women are more likely to be murdered during or soon after their pregnancy than they are to die from the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths.

Despite this, there are fears that the amendment won’t be passed after comments from the state’s Republican governor, Mike Parson, and state senator, Denny Hoskins.

During an interview with The Kanas City Star, Hoskins suggested that it would be acceptable for women in dangerous situations to be granted a divorce but added that he feared the idea of making separating too easy during pregnancy.

Hoskins stated, “Just because the husband and wife are not getting along or have irreconcilable differences, I would not consider that that would be a good reason to get divorced during a pregnancy.”