There was outrage over a bill prefiled in the Missouri Legislature by state Rep. Rick Brattin (R-55) that would revoke a scholarship from any college athlete who refused to play for a reason unrelated to health. Brattin’s outrageous bill was clearly a reaction to the strike that Mizzou football players took to call for the resignation of UM system president Tim Wolfe and demand the university to address the racism, sexual assaults and lack of diversity on campus. Brattin’s bill has since been withdrawn.
What has gained very little attention is a similarly outrageous bill that was prefiled on the same day by state Rep. Mike Moon (R-157). House Bill 1794 would establish the "All Lives Matter Act,” changing the laws regarding the finding that life begins at conception. At first glance, this bill is another attack on abortion rights, but there is more to it.
First, this bill says that life begins at conception even before a doctor has the chance to say a pregnancy has occurred. When life begins is a question each person must decide for herself or himself. These issues involve matters of personal, moral, religious and scientific beliefs. This is an area where politicians should have no role.
Secondly, it deliberately undermines “Black Lives Matter,” a movement formed after the senseless killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson. One reason “Black Lives Matter” is so important is that it states the obvious, but the obvious has not yet been historically realized. It is a statement of outrage and a demand for equality, for the right to live free of constraint.
Rep. Moon also cosponsored legislation for 2016 requiring all public restrooms, other than single-occupancy restrooms, to be gender-divided – an attack on transgender persons. So, trans lives do not matter to him. Moon also called for a special legislative session on the Syrian Refugee crisis to halt "the potential Islamization of Missouri." So, Muslim and refugee lives also do not matter to him. And those examples are just from the past month.
Finally, black women have had very little reproductive choice, historically. During slavery, they wereforced into childbirth. Then, they were forced into methods for sterilization. Since then, black women have had to bear the burden of the“welfare mom” stereotype. This bill continues the trend in Missouri, that women should not make their own decisions. Again, the lives of women – and especially black women – do not matter to this legislator.
We must deplore this bill, and demand House Bill 1794 be withdrawn from consideration. Instead, we must encourage the passage of bills, that truly reflect that “All Lives Matter” – including, but not limited to, the Fair and Impartial Policing Act, Ban the Box, the Family Medical Leave Act, and Medicaid Expansion in Missouri.
Alison Dreith is interim director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.