Monday, May 20, 2019

Kansas City Democrat: Passage of anti-abortion bill is a dark day for Missouri women and their health caregivers

(From Rep. Ingrid Burnett, D-Kansas City)

I’m sure you’ve already heard the news regarding the very restrictive and punitive law passed on the last day regarding women’s rights to access safe, medical abortion care. I couldn’t be more opposed to this bill.

Forcing women and girls to carry to term pregnancies that they did not assent to in cases of rape or incest; pregnancies that are medically complicated and beyond saving; and threatening women and their health care professionals with 6 - 8 years of prison for utilizing the doctor-patient relationship to base decisions on what the circumstances present is clearly wrong. This is a dark day for Missouri women and their health caregivers. 

Governor Parson has made it clear that he is eager to sign on. I stand with the dozens of women who came to the capitol to protest and the thousands of women across the state who will be harmed by it. While my one sole no vote was not enough to defeat it, I am grateful for the 45 other strong legislators who joined with me in voting no and standing up for Missouri women.

For those of you who came that day, thank you for your advocacy. I am grateful that there are brave women and men like you who recognize and work to educate lawmakers and voters in regards to the need for women to have authority over their own health care, and the opportunity to have frank, comprehensive and private counsel with their health care provider without government interference. 

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

I believe if the Missouri Legislature really wanted to reduce the number of abortions, we would work to make our state an environment that is welcoming to mothers and children. 

Things like daycare, early childhood education, affordable and if necessary subsidized health care coverage, access to healthy food options and food prep education. Mothers and fathers need living wages with paid leave for family care events. Families need access to reliable transportation to access school and work. I could go on, but I think I made my point.

Understand, I am not advocating that the state provide all of these to all citizens. I am suggesting that we develop and enact policies that facilitate an economic environment that supports healthy families and safe communities.

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