Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a pro-life rally last week in Springfield.

Gov. Eric Greitens brought an uncompromising anti-abortion message to Springfield last Friday (June 9), where a Planned Parenthood clinic recently applied to offer abortions.

The Republican governor has called state lawmakers back to Jefferson City for another special session, tasking them with undoing a St. Louis anti-discrimination ordinance that worries pregnancy resource centers.

The St. Louis bill added reproductive decisions such as being pregnant or using birth control to existing employment and housing discrimination codes. Some pregnancy resource centers worry they’ll be forced to employ people with pro-abortion-rights beliefs. 

Greitens rallied Friday with fellow abortion foe Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who ran for president last year, at the University Plaza Hotel.

Speaking to between 100 and 150 supporters, Greitens urged the protection and defense of a “culture of life here in Missouri.” 

The rally had a campaign atmosphere for Greitens, a former professional speaker well-practiced at reading a crowd.

The audience responded with loud applause to Greitens’ line about the special session “canceling (lawmakers’) vacations.” 

The General Assembly, a part-time body made up of citizens from across Missouri, convenes for regular sessions in early January and adjourns in mid-May. Greitens previously instructed lawmakers to pass a bill designed to bring a steel mill and aluminum smelter to southeast Missouri. 

Supporters held signs expressing anti-abortion sentiments and listened attentively as Greitens asked them to pray for pregnancy resource centers that feel attacked and to pray for him and his family.

“I know Gov. Huckabee agrees with me on this: You can’t ever pray too much,” Greitens continued. “And you can also say a prayer for some of these career politicians in the Senate and hope that they see the light and do the right thing.”


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at a rally with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in support of next week’s pro-life special session on Friday, June 9.

The House passed legislation nullifying the St. Louis anti-discrimination ordinance, but the measure stalled in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats alike have occasionally feuded with the governor.

This also was an opportunity for Greitens — the only Republican statewide candidate not endorsed by Missouri Right to Life — to burnish his conservative credentials and to continue turning up the volume of his anti-abortion beliefs.

Huckabee, a staunch abortion opponent, had nothing but praise for Greitens, calling him “one of the great heroes of life in the entire country” and saying that if former President John F. Kennedy had lived in the contemporary era, he would have included a chapter on Greitens in his book, “Profiles in Courage.”

Before the abortion rally, the two Republicans spoke at a Veterans of Foreign Wars conference. Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, thanked members of the audience for their service and spoke briefly about his own time in active military duty. 

The situation in Springfield 

 The two politicians continued from Springfield to Joplin, and the two southwest Missouri cities were fitting backdrops — both are home to clinics where Planned Parenthood plans to begin offering medication abortions. 

“We have (recently) submitted applications to the state to gain approval to start providing abortion services,” Planned Parenthood spokesman Jesse Lawder told the News-Leader.

Lawder said in April that Planned Parenthood has arranged with a physician who is willing and able to work with the Springfield clinic. He was not able to say how long it might take before Planned Parenthood would start offering abortions. 

Planned Parenthood started moving forward in Missouri after a federal judge ruled favorably for the organization, which aims to strike down two abortion-related rules similar to restrictions in Texas deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016.

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Asked by a reporter afterward about the plans to offer abortions in the Ozarks, Greitens reiterated his goals to protect pregnancy resource centers and to advocate for “common sense health and safety standards” such as annual inspections for abortion providers.

Greitens declined to comment directly on the Springfield clinic and also would not say whether he was aware if any pregnancy resource centers, such as the one he visited Thursday in St. Louis, had been forced to hire anyone with pro-abortion views yet. He noted that the St. Louis center he visited currently is engaged in a legal battle against the local ordinance.

Your neighbors at the rally

The enthusiastic crowd brought together anti-abortion advocates old, young and in between. 

Some people, like retired Baptist preacher Bruce McNeely, attended because they wanted to meet Greitens and Huckabee in person. Others were there specifically to oppose abortion.

Jo Wilson, a retired grade-school teacher, wants the practice of abortions to be banned.

“I don’t think it’s right,” she said, adding that she believes “we lose a lot of great potential” by aborting what might otherwise be humans with God-given talents.

Some of the more youthful supporters included Jill, Will and Emilee Kuschel of Monett. Their parents, Veronica and Ken, previously ran a center in Aurora and promoted adoption as an alternative to abortion. 

Jill said she and her twin brother Will were adopted in 2004 when they were 4 months old because their biological mother wasn’t prepared to take care of them but couldn’t bring herself to have an abortion. Emilee, who is preparing to move from high school to college journalism studies, said she helps out at the center. 

For the three young Kuschels, it was important to attend the rally because of their personal experience seeing adoption as an alternative to abortion. Jill added that she was eager to hear what Greitens and Huckabee had to say about the issue, and Emilee noted that she was particularly concerned because she had recently heard of an article discussing do-it-yourself abortions.

“That’s very dangerous and not OK at all,” she said.

She would have agreed at least on that issue with a number of the pro-Planned Parenthood protesters who assembled across the street, such as Carlissa Gilliam, a retired nurse living in Springfield.

Gilliam said her aunt died after a coat-hanger abortion. She was concerned about the policies being promoted at the rally.

“Anything that’s anti-choice impoverishes women,” she said.

Greitens pro-life

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a pro-life rally June 9 in St. Charles. Greitens held a similar rally the dame day in Springfield.

Gil Mobley, a local physician, had a much blunter message with his sign, intended to direct anti-abortion activists to “Christian Taliban Event Parking.” 

Mobley said he had consulted with several people for advice beforehand and acknowledged his sign was over-the-top, but he went ahead with it anyway. He also passed out copies of a News-Leader article to prove to people that the governor aimed to repeal the anti-discrimination ordinance in St. Louis.

Mobley added he “used to be anti-abortion before anti-abortion was cool” and also referenced the dangers of do-it-yourself abortions: “Coat hangers kill people.”



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“I know Gov. Huckabee agrees with me on this: You can’t ever pray too much. And you can also say a prayer for some of these career politicians in the Senate and hope that they see the light and do the right thing.”


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