Protesters demand overturn of Missouri's abortion law

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JEFFERSON CITY - Hundreds of protesters convened at the state capitol Saturday to rally against the state law restricting abortion.

Through the wet drizzly morning, nearly 200 protesters led chants of "my body my choice" among others. The group then marched together to the governor's mansion on Madison Street.

Women, dressed in red handmaids costumes and white bonnets, lined the metal fencing at the mansion. The handmaids costume has, in recent years, become a symbol of the pro-abortion rights movement.

Saturday, the handmaids stood solemnly with their heads bowed. The other protesters, in contrast, yelled harmonious chants toward the mansion. They demanded Gov. Mike Parson and lawmakers who voted in favor of the state's recent abortion law, be voted out. 

Liz Victrola, one of the handmaids, said lawmakers should consider the people who voted them into office.

"We are not scared. We will vote you out," Victrola said. "You better take care of your women. If you think you can control us, if you think you can silence us, you are wrong and we will vote you out."

Earlier this month, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft struck down a third petition for a referendum. The petition sought for the state's new abortion law, which bans the procedure after eight weeks of pregnancy, to be placed for a vote in 2020.

Ashcroft said he could not approve the petition. He cited an emergency clause in the bill which he said exempts the bill from a referendum vote.

Victrola said she disagrees. She said she believes Ashcroft fears the results of a potential referendum vote.

"The fact that they won't put it to a vote just tells me they know what will happen if they put it to a vote," she said. "We will vote it down."

Currently Missouri has one clinic in St. Louis that provides abortion services.

Friday, the state's Department of Health and Senior Services declined to renew the clinic's license. The DHSS said Planned Parenthood only corrected four of 30 deficiencies found during the clinic's March inspection.

Because of a previous preliminary injunction, the clinic remains open and can continue to perform abortions until a judge makes a final ruling.