Fact check: Plan B still legal in Missouri as Supreme Court considers fate of Roe v. Wade

The claim: Plan B banned in Missouri

A leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which established a constitutional right to abortion, triggered an influx of claims about reproductive rights as many around the country grappled with the implications of their potential overhaul nearly 50 years after Roe.

Politico first reported the leaked draft on May 2. The high court confirmed the draft’s authenticity the following day, when Chief Justice John Roberts announced an investigation into the source of the leak

One of the post-leak claims focused on Missouri, which earlier this year heard proposals from lawmakers seeking to allow lawsuits against residents who cross state lines to get an abortion and criminalize terminating non-viable pregnancies.

“They just banned plan B’s in Missouri,” read one May 8 Facebook post that was shared more than 200 times in one day. 

The claim also gained traction when former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, expressed concern about the draft opinion and claimed in a May 3 tweet that "even morning after pill, IUD will be illegal" if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Plan B pills are used as emergency birth control and work to prevent pregnancy primarily by delaying or preventing ovulation.

But there is no ban on using these pills in Missouri.

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The pill was still available for pickup in pharmacies around Missouri as of May 16, according to a USA TODAY review of pharmacy offerings. Even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, Missouri’s "trigger law"  does not explicitly mention or ban Plan B. 

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment. 

Protesters outside the Supreme Court in Washington on May 3, 2022, after a draft Supreme Court opinion published by Politico suggested the court is considering a decision that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

'Trigger law' doesn’t explicitly ban Plan B, other contraception

Even if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, Missouri’s existing abortion law does not explicitly ban Plan B or other forms of contraception, said Rigel Oliveri, a law professor at the University of Missouri.

“Some more action would have to be taken in order for people to start assuming Plan B is covered by the abortion law – that is not an obvious reading of it,” Oliveri said. 

Both St. Louis Public Radio and The Kansas City Star reported that Plan B and other forms of contraception would not be immediately affected if the law were to go into effect upon an overruling of Roe v. Wade. 

Check Your Fact and Lead Stories also debunked the claim of a Plan B ban in Missouri. 

But Oliveri said Plan B and similar pills could become a key point of debate.

She said most consider Plan B to be contraception and not a form of medication abortion, but it’s possible some could “try to push the law to cover that and prohibit that.”  At that point, Oliveri said courts would have to decide whether such a measure is a valid interpretation of the law. 

More: What the end of Roe v. Wade could mean in a nation without child care aid or family leave

Missouri's "trigger" ban, which is part of a 2019 bill that has been tied up in federal litigation, prohibits abortion except in cases of a medical emergency. But Oliveri said its language leaves room for lawmakers and prosecutors to “stretch the definition of what (abortion) means.” 

Another concern Oliveri said people have is that from the “logic and the reasoning of the opinion it’s very clear that it could equally apply” to cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird, which expanded rights to contraception.

Draft opinion fallout: Could rights to same-sex marriage, contraception be next? 

The draft noted that Roe v. Wade was based on the idea that the right to have an abortion is part of a fundamental right to privacy, neither of which is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Oliveri said contraception can be described the same way.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Plan B is banned in Missouri. The pills are still available for purchase in pharmacies around the state, and its "trigger law" does not directly mention or ban Plan B in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.

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