Letter: House bill on abortion disrespectful of women’s right to choose

Thursday, April 24, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:59 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The Missouri House of Representatives has passed another in a long line of bills that would restrict abortion access in our state. HB1831 would add more hoops for women to jump through in the informed consent process and would create a new crime of “coercing” abortion. Those who support the bill claim that they are acting out of respect for women. Of course women should be fully informed and not coerced in any decision they make, but this bill shows a serious lack of respect for women in Missouri.

It shows a lack of respect for a woman’s ability to make an informed decision about her body by requiring that even more detailed information be given to the woman, despite the fact that the informed consent process for abortions in Missouri is already more highly regulated than for any other medical procedure. The bill seems to work under the assumption that any woman who would choose to terminate an unplanned pregnancy must be completely ignorant of what’s going on in her own body. This is patently insulting to women, especially because more than 60 percent of women seeking abortions already have children.

The bill also shows a lack of respect for women in domestic violence situations. Under the new laws in the bill, a woman would be considered “coerced” if she attempted to have an abortion because she did not want to bring a child into a violent situation. The language of the bill essentially states that a coerced woman is incapable of giving consent for the procedure. This is outrageously disrespectful to women because of the underlying assumption that a woman in an adverse situation is unable to make an informed decision.

Ultimately, the new rules and criminal penalties in HB1831 show no respect for women. They assume that women must be “protected” from their decisions and that they aren’t competent to understand their own pregnancies. Let’s hope that Missouri senators have more respect for women than their colleagues in the House.

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