Natalie Rose,15, of Springfield protest out side the United States Courthouse Friday evening. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

OPINION |

by Don Underwood, Republic

Missourians and their lawmakers should undertake a focused effort to reduce abortions through positive actions as well as providing care for mothers and their babies. 

In 2020, nearly 10,000 Missouri women went to Kansas and Illinois for an abortion (Missouri Independent, March 29, 2022). It is likely that thousands of Missouri women in the coming years will seek to thwart the state’s extreme abortion ban. The “trigger law” doesn’t even allow for an abortion in the cases of rape or incest. Additionally, low-income women unable to travel will be faced with the economic challenges of a new child. Lawmakers must respond by offering family caregiving legislation.

To lower the number of abortions in Missouri in a constructive manner:

  1. Institute a comprehensive, statewide requirement for sex education in public and private schools that goes into pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and relational values. 
  2. Provide taxpayer-funded, low-cost contraceptive programs and/or require health insurance firms operating in Missouri to do so.
  3. Require a livable wage for all Missouri workers and provide universal maternal health insurance to lessen the economic pressure for an abortion.

To provide care for mothers and their babies:

  1. Require businesses in the state to provide paid leave after a newborn child to ensure caregiving.
  2. Offer a woman a state-financed DNA test to legally establish the identity of the father so that the man under Missouri law may be required to share in the costs of the pregnancy such as health insurance, prescriptions, and emergency medical expenses. 
  3. Expand tax breaks and streamline adoption proceedings while increasing funding for foster parents.
  4. Increase funding for Medicaid and expand the Missouri Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to better serve mothers and children as well as other programs providing food, shelter, and health care.