Governor's abortion advising board meets opposition
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Governor's abortion advising board meets opposition

Date: December 3, 2007
By: Bria Scudder
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Abortion-rights activists called for an end to the governor's task force at a press conference held less than two hours before the task force met Monday. Abortion rights activists challenged the board on its research and objectivity in a press conference prior to the meeting.

"This is in fact a one sided conversation of the extreme anti-choice forces." said Sen. Joan Bray D- St. Louis County.

Kerry Messer, founder of Missouri Family network, chaired the board meeting. He said that the governor chose people who shared his views on abortion rights. They support the governor's anti-abortion stance and are looking for ways to limit the number of abortions in Missouri, Messer said.

"It's not a place for debate or for a dialog beyond our commission.", he said.  "The governor makes no bones about being pro-life."

The task force discussed coercion for abortions, disproportional numbers of abortion in the black community and negative emotional effects of women after abortions.  Board members said they had heard statement from women who said they felt pressured to have abortions.

During Monday''s hearing by the task force, abortion rights activists lined up to ask questions.  But the witnesses did not find a receptive audience from the governor's task force.

One member -- Joe Dalton, director of Pregnancy Resource Center at Rolla -- laughed after several of the questions and comments.

"There was not anything about prevention," Michelle Trupiano of  Planned Parenthood said at the news conference prior to the task force meeting.  She said that she thinks that the task force should look to increase access to sex education and preventive measures.

But that suggestion was rejected by task force chair. "This task force is not commissioned with dealing with that issue. We are looking at abortion's impact." Messer said during the task force meeting.

The Rev. Rebecca Turner, of Missouri Religious  Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, said that eliminating abortion will not get rid of the social and health problem that may lead to abortion.

At the abortion-rights news conference, Bray charged the governor's motivation for task force was politics.  "He's trying to "get back in the good graces" of those that are opposed to stem cell research, Bray said.

"That's all he's got", said Pamela Sumners, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri. "He's "electorally in the toilet"

Many of the abortion rights activists said that they believe that the task force meetings were hidden in attempt to prevent those who opposed  their anti-abortion views from coming.

Turner said that the board is not receptive to her views despite her Christian background. She said that the board promotes the idea that good religious people don't support abortion. "We're there to threaten that perception" she said.

Messer said that he wants the media to show more research supporting the anti-abortion rights stance. "I didn't realize that there was as much academic research on our side...There's tons and tons of academic research. I was right without being educated."

"If the media is only reporting from one point of view, then we have to ask ourselves why." said Dalton.