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Abortion-rights advocates raise their voices in the Pro-Choice Lobby Day

April 22, 2003
By: Inigo Apalategui
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 156, HB 365, HB 481, SB 34, SB 70, SB 110, SB 182, SB 393, SB 437

JEFFERSON CITY - More than 100 abortion-rights advocates from across Missouri gathered in the Pro-Choice Lobby Day in Missouri's statehouse today. Eight different bills seeking to restrict abortions have been proposed this year, in a more conservative and Republican-controlled legislature. The event was sponsored by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri and Missouri NARAL, state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"Thanks for coming to raise your strong voices and tell them they are wrong", said First Lady Lori Holden after her husband opened a meeting with elected pro-choice officials.

"The new legislation would take us to the same place we were 50 years ago in women's health", said Alison Gee, political director of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region.

During the Lobby Day, abortion supporters urged legislators to vote against two bills that have already been passed in their first chamber and that would restrict women's right to choose.

The first of them would require a 24-hour waiting period after counseling before a woman could have an abortion. Participants in the event said that mandatory delay laws do not make abortions safer, but they often increase the risk for women by pushing them later into pregnancy.

However, anti-abortion advocates argued earlier this year that a woman can regret having an abortion. Susan Klein, a lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life, said that "most women have no opportunity to sit and talk to a physician and they see the doctor for the first time in the abortion". She also said that the bill does not tell the doctor what he has to say to the woman.

The second bill would impose civil liability on any person assisting a minor to obtain an abortion without the required informed consent. This proposal would allow parents to sue anyone, including grandparents, clergy members or health care providers.

"We are more threatened than ever before", said Rep. Vicky Wilson, D-Columbia. "We care about life, but also about women's integrity making the most important decisions". Rep. Wilson said that there would be people criminalizing themselves just to get services they should be able to get in this country.

Abortin-rights organizations also urged lawmakers to pass the "Woman's Right to Know" bill, that would inform Missouri women about Emergency Birth Control. According to abortion advocates, informing about and providing "the morning after pill" could reduce the number of abortions by half.