Letter to the Editor: Anti-women’s health bills limit legal access to care

No other procedure has a legislated “thinking time.”

No corporate or governmental entity should be in a position to limit anyone’s legal access to care or to seize a controlling interest over any individual’s health care choices. Reducing that power constitutes a major step backward for health care.

Several anti-women’s health bills are making their way through the Missouri Capitol right now. Among these are Senate Bill 519 and House bills 1307 and 1313, which would triple the minimum waiting period for abortion, forcing women to wait three days to have an abortion after consultation with their provider.

The new bills are intended to delay care based on political and not medical reasons, unnecessarily putting women’s health at risk. Currently, there are no other medical procedures that have legislated “thinking times.”

While abortion is a very safe procedure, it is safer the earlier it is provided. The challenges women might face in scheduling travel, child care and work arrangements to get doctors appointments three days apart are exacerbated by the reality that these new bills might force travel across the state twice to the only provider in Missouri.

The Missouri House recently passed House bills 1307 and 1313, which are on their way to be heard by the Senate. Among the representatives who voted yes on the passage of these bills was MU alumnus and current representative of Boone County Caleb Rowden. Senate Bill 519 can also be brought up anytime on the Senate floor.

Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer’s position could be critical. He has stated his personal opposition to “elective abortions” but has said he didn't get elected to impose his will on anyone. Choice is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but in democracy, choice means the decision is up to the individual, not the government. Let’s call upon Sen. Schaefer to stand up for individual choice.

Adding a mandatory three-day wait between a consultation and procedure would make it significantly harder for working women or students from outside St. Louis to receive treatment. It appears supporters of this bill either doubt a woman’s decision-making ability within the 24 hours already required by law or simply want to further complicate an already emotionally, physically and mentally difficult process.

As the rhetoric and actions on this issue by many of our state senators and representatives have been inconsistent, I would encourage Boone County residents to contact Sen. Schaefer and ask him to vote no on Senate Bill 519 and House bills 1307 and 1313. This fight is no longer about who is “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” Instead of debating what divides us, let’s discuss what the majority of us do agree on, that these are decisions that should ultimately be left to a woman and her doctor.

Katie Youmans,

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