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MISSOURI- BECOMING A TOTALLY ANTI-WOMAN, ANTI-CHOICE STATE

Imagine you are the parent of a 15 year old girl. She's a serious student, a good athlete and has a great group of friends that she hangs out with. One evening she is walking home from a friend's house, cutting through the subdivisions, when a man appears. She tries to remain calm as he is following her, but eventually he catches up, drags her into a deserted area, and rapes her. She manages to get home afterwards, crying, dirty and somewhat bruised. As a parent you are not sure where to take her first- the hospital or the police station?

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The aftermath is horrible for your whole family. Your daughter can't get through an entire day at school or sleep at night, she spends most of her time in her room but she is terrified to be alone. And you are terrified to leave her alone because of her depression and PTSD.

Eight weeks after the rape, things are starting to improve. She is still pretty dependent on the counselor you found her, but she has started to talk to her friends a bit more, and she even smiles every once in a while. The man that did this has still not been caught despite her having given a description to the police, but you try not to talk about it.

Then, she comes to you with an unthinkable question. "How would I be able to tell if I am pregnant?" You ask her about her symptoms and it's not sounding good. You bring her home a pregnancy test and it comes out positive, so you go to the doctor. As you are sitting with your OB-GYN (she has never been to an OB-GYN before), you tell her the circumstances of your daughter ending up in this situation. The last thing that your daughter needs is to carry a child of a man that raped her, that would be an every day reminder of something she is trying to get past. The solution seems to be obvious.

Then your OB-GYN reminds you that you live in Missouri. A state with some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country. Your daughter's pregnancy has progressed beyond 8 weeks, therefore no abortion cannot be performed. You ask, "isn't there an exception for cases of rape or incest?" Unfortunately no, the OB states. Your daughter is faced with carrying a pregnancy to term that was the result of a horrible crime. She is given the choice of giving up the baby for adoption after carrying it for 9 months or keeping a child who will never know its father. She will never get child support for this child. She may not even be able to finish high school.

This is a very likely reality soon in Missouri. The Missouri House of Representatives has passed a bill that severely limits a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, even if it is the result of rape or incest. Missouri House Bill 126 was overwhelmingly passed by our conservative, male dominated House on February 26. The bill states that if the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, all abortions in Missouri would automatically be illegal. In addition, the bill states that if a "fetal heartbeat" is detectable, an abortion cannot be performed. And no abortion can be performed after 8 weeks of pregnancy.

Unfortunately for many women, they don't even knowthey are pregnant until they are about 8 weeks along. And there could be a sound of a fetal heartbeat well before that time. Also devastating for some of those same women, because the bill does not include exceptions for rape or incest, the state is likely to lose Federal Medicaid funding. So those same kids that the state is going to force the woman to give birth to will likely not have health insurance!

Governor Mike Parson is in full support of this bill, and will surely sign it if the Senate approves it. Which means that if a woman needs to terminate a pregnancy, she will have to go to another state to do it.

Why do our legislators (mostly men) think that they have the right to take control over women's bodies and lives? This shows a very low opinion of women. Amazingly enough, many of the female house members also voted for this bill. Where is their self respect? Can we do anything about this? Yes!! You can still call your state senator and let them know that you believe this bill is taking important rights away from women. Let women be the ones to make this decision, not the state.

If you can call your state senators before this vote happens maybe we can stop it. Here are the phone numbers for several, hopefully yours is on this list: Andrew Koenig: West St Louis County area: 573-751-5568; Jill Schupp: St Louis County: 573-751-9762; Bob Onder: St Charles County: 573-751-1282 and Jamilah Nasheed, St Louis City and some of North County: 572-751-4415. Tell them to vote NO on Senate bills 279, 139, 345 and 312. You can also locate your senator here (and you can email them): https://www.senate.mo.gov/2019-senator-listing-2/

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