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Letter to the Editor: Passage of waiting period bill an infringement

New legislation aims to make decisions for women.

March 7, 2014

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The Missouri House has recently passed House Bill 1307 and House Bill 1313 that would take the already 24 hour mandatory waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion and triple it to a 72 hour waiting period.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling that the 24 hour waiting period is a more than adequate time restraint for a woman to wait while seeking an abortion, Missouri politicians and proponents of this bill continue to try and put Missouri women’s health at risk by proposing bills that put unnecessary waiting periods on a safe and legal medical procedure that is safest the earlier it is done. Abortion is a deeply personal and complex medical decision, but when bills like HB1307 and HB1313 are passed it infringes on the decision making process that should be left between a woman, her family, faith, and doctor or medical provider.

No woman decides to have an abortion like one would decide to buy shoes or a house, like many politicians have alluded to in hearings on these bills. Missouri women seeking an abortion must go through biased counseling to try and change their mind on having the procedure, often times taking long trips with extended time away from work and family, and waiting the current 24 hour mandatory waiting period before she can access an abortion. To assume Missouri women seeking an abortion have not already had more than enough time to come to their own decision on the best option for them, whatever it may be, is naïve and shows a lack of trust in women.

If it were truly the well-being and health of Missourians these politicians were concerned about, they would be more concerned about expanding Medicaid in Missouri than forcing unnecessary restrictions on women. I urge you to call your Missouri state senator and put a stop to these bills before they endanger the lives and well being of Missouri women.

Ellie Busch,

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Article comments

March 9, 2014 at 8:42 a.m.

Keith Fredereick: As the sponsor of HB 1313, I would like to give you something else to think about. A well designed study published in 2006 by Jonathan Klick may give you another perspective on the issue of a waiting period. There were 921 suicides in Missouri in 2011, approximately 22 % of them women. Mr. Klick's research clearly shows that in states that institute a waiting period, the female suicide rate in that state is reduced by 10%. The study is well designed and controls for other variables. That means that currently 20 women per year in Missouri don't take their own lives due to the 24 hour wait. My belief is that 72 hours will help save more women and their babies. Suicide in Missouri takes more lives than homicides, DWI and AIDS combined. We should do more to prevent these tragedies, and this is a step in the right direction.

March 9, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.

Ellie Busch: "Klick’s findings lack transparency and plausibility. First, if mandatory waiting periods are indeed associated with a 30% decline in suicide rates, then such large discontinuities should be apparent in the time series of suicide rates in the states that have enforced these laws. Klick provided no such figures or even simple difference-in-differences of suicide rates in states with counseling and waiting period laws and neighboring states without them. Second, it is unclear why Klick included suicide rates from 1981, when the first laws were not enforced until 1992. Nor did he analyze the association between suicide rates and mandatory counseling and waiting period laws in this earlier period, which accounts for over 60% of the sample; such an analysis could have served as a check for spurious associations. Third, Klick found that mandatory counseling and waiting period laws were protective against suicide, but that Medicaid financing restrictions increased suicide rates. Yet he did not provide a convincing explanation for these seemingly contradictory results, given that both types of restrictions decrease women’s access to abortion. Klick speculated that Medicaid restrictions reduce the number of abortions, but that the resulting unwanted births among relatively poor women lead to depression and suicide. In contrast, he suggested that mandatory counseling and waiting period laws may also reduce abortions and increase unwanted births, but that nonpoor women may respond to unintended childbearing with greater acceptance of the child, and so suffer less depression and be less likely than poor women to take their own lives. Klick further argued that if these laws have no effect on abortion rates, they may still reduce suicide rates by helping women become more comfortable with their decision to terminate the pregnancy, thus reducing postabortion regret and depression. He provided little support for these various speculations. Finally, Klick included women aged 25–64 and excluded those aged 18–24. The latter age-group has the highest abortion rate, while many of the older women that he included were beyond their reproductive years. A test of the effect of enjoined mandatory counseling and waiting period laws would have helped to determine whether unmeasured confounding variables were influencing the results." - from the Guttmacher Institute

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