The decisions made in the Missouri State Legislature at the end of this past legislative session will serve as a stain on America’s history of progress and equality.
As a first-term legislator, I am committed to protecting the safety of all women and all Missourians. I am therefore hurt, confused, and angry that my fellow legislators have chosen to support a bill that is intended to show political loyalty rather than to uplift the welfare the women of the Show Me State.
HB126, also known as the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act”, is an attempt to subvert the U.S. Constitution in order to eliminate a woman’s right to choose. As if this wasn’t bad enough, it goes further by eliminating any exceptions for rape or incest. Missouri may stand for the unborn, but our state’s government has decidedly taken a seat when it comes to the health and safety of our mothers, sisters, and daughters.
My colleagues claim that this bill is intended to show that the state of Missouri values life. They say that they are just walking a righteous path by obeying the Christian commandment that “Thou shall not kill.” Those same colleagues, however, are enthusiastic supporters of the death penalty. I have been unable to understand how the Creator that is cited in this bill would be supportive of a government that chooses who can be put to death, as long as it is after they’ve left the womb.
As well, in a state where 14.6 percent of residents live below the poverty line along with 19 percent of children, I find it hard to find biblical or constitutional justification for my colleagues to continue their assault on our social safety net. Former Vice President Joe Biden once said, “Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.” Missouri’s Republican-led legislature has shown us their budget. They do not value life.
They do value guns, though. The majority party is so set on preserving gun rights that they are willing to ignore the consistent and frequent loss of life happening to our school children on an internationally unmatched scale. It is a horrifying fact that children have died senselessly and those that say they value life have failed – or, worse, refused to answer the call.
I know there are staunch 2nd Amendment supporters who will ask me to look in my own backyard before judging their gun policies. I am fully aware of the problems that my city faces with regard to crimes and gun violence. No one is more frustrated than those of us who are attempting to wage a battle against those ills. We just also happen to understand how social and economic inequities contribute to violence and crime, turning them into the only means of survival in a system that often lacks humanity. Helping to create sensible gun laws without taking away the rights to own guns can be one part of a larger, more intentional reform that helps us save lives in the future.
This editorial does not have the right words to illustrate my anger and frustration at our state supporting the limitation of rights for women – those words don’t exist. This new law signed by Governor Mike Parson is beyond medieval.
HB126, along with the other draconian measures passed this session, illustrates how undervalued women are as full and equal participants in our society. This legislation is nothing short than disingenuous and mean. Do not be surprised if this leads to many women making the choice to leave our great state for somewhere they are treated as equals. For now, Missouri is not that place.
Wiley Price (D-St. Louis) represents District 84 in the Missouri House of Representatives.