To The Editor:

Abortion is emotional and divisive, with people from both sides feeling passionately on the issue.

Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. The difference is we on the pro-choice side believe it is not an issue to be legislated. Instead, it is a private and personal choice made by a woman and her doctor. They are the only ones who need to know why she makes the heart-wrenching decision not carry a fetus to term. Government bodies, the majority of which are made up of men, do not have the right to govern when a woman chooses to have a child and with whom. Despite a pelvic examination being required in order to obtain an abortion, Missouri Republicans made the absurd decision to require an additional pelvic examination, thus sanctioning state-approved sexual assault.

Making abortions illegal or more restrictive will not eliminate them. It will, however, make them unsafe and dangerous to the health and the life of women. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, 1 of every 550 women who underwent illegal abortion died of complications. Pro-choice also supports readily available reproductive health education and universal access to birth control.

There is no legal or biblical definition of when life begins. To take one Christian denomination’s definition of when life begins and apply it to secular law violates the separation of church and state. No one should be forced to follow the tenets of a religion, whether it is Islam, Protestant, Catholicism or Judaism.

Finally, as Sister Joan Chittister says, “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth.”

Sadly, our state has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the United States. If Missouri were a country, we would rank 111th. If Republican legislators truly cared about life, they would improve the lives of women and children instead of forcing women who have been raped or are victims of incest to raise unwanted children in probable poverty. Additionally, many businesses who could grow our economy do not support backward leaning bills like this one.

Nationwide the abortion rate has been falling. There are many other measures that could be taken to continue the decrease and improve the health of Missouri women and infants. Making abortions so restrictive or illegal is not the answer.

This new bill is wrong for women and wrong for Missouri.

Barbara A. Woodruff


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