Columbia rally sparks debate over women's issues

Thursday, August 23, 2012 | 11:08 p.m. CDT; updated 3:40 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 24, 2012
A crowd of about 120 Planned Parenthood supporters gathered Thursday for a rally in Columbia.

COLUMBIA — A blond woman going by “Pillamina” and donning a birth control dispenser costume led a rally of pink-clad women and men holding signs that said “Women Are Watching” outside Rep. Mary Still's campaign office Thursday evening.

“When women vote, Democrats win,” Still said with a smile — and to great applause. A crowd of about 120 supporters had come out to hear her and others speak as part of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s “Women Are Watching” bus tour, of which Pillamina was the ringleader.

Context about rape and pregnancy

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Links to articles on other websites address sexual assault and the science and beliefs behind pregnancy resulting from rape.

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The women’s health organization’s 11-state bus tour had been announced before Rep. Todd Akin’s controversial remarks on pregnancy and rape. Akin’s comments have catalyzed abortion and women’s health — issues that were significant considerations for many voters — into a lightning rod on the national campaign trail.

In Boone County, Still is seizing that fire as fuel in her bid to replace Republican Kurt Schaefer in his 19th District seat in the Missouri Senate.

Still said in an interview earlier Thursday that Akin’s comments were “a window into the views of the far-right fringe … very prominent in the (Missouri) House and Senate.”

“Todd Akin’s idiocy is a very convenient diversion for Rep. Still,” Schaefer said Thursday before Still's rally.

The crowd at Thursday’s rally — a solid majority wearing pink T-shirts with the “Women Are Watching” logo and holding matching signs — was a mix of mostly women and some men of many ages.

Schaefer accused Still of riding the wave of Akin’s controversy to divert attention away from her lack of leadership.

“We need to focus on economic development, job creation, public education funding, all those things I have been working so hard on for four years in the time that Mary Still has done nothing,” he said.

But Still said Akin’s comments have focused attention on an issue that some would rather avoid. She said Schaefer doesn’t want to talk about women’s health because he has a record of not standing up for women and that he doesn’t understand women’s health as a fiscal policy issue.

“The ability to plan your family provides you an opportunity to provide for your children in a way that will ensure that they have a better future,” Still said. “And certainly, reproduction” — including the option for a woman to choose abortion — “is a health issue for women as well. ... Access to contraception and emergency contraception prevents abortion,” she said.

But the difference between Still’s and Schaefer’s positions on birth control can be hard to find.

“Birth control is a medical issue and none of the government’s business,” Schaefer said. Access to family planning and contraception for both men and women is “an important part of anyone raising a family,” he said. "I absolutely agree with her on that."

After hearing that Still had accused him of not standing up for women, Schaefer vigorously refuted the charge. He pointed to restored funding for emergency room rape kits and domestic violence shelters, protections for rape victims who become pregnant, and $8 million in funding for smoking cessation programs for pregnant Medicaid recipients as part of his record in defense of women.

There will be time before Sept. 12 for them to hash out their credentials for local women's votes. Senate Bill 749, which would allow insurance companies to deny access to birth control for certain employees, comes up for a possible veto override that day. Both Still and Schaefer voted against the legislation, which passed nonetheless but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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Michael Williams August 24, 2012 | 10:44 a.m.

The Missourian writes, "But the difference between Still’s and Schaefer’s positions on birth control can be hard to find."

I do applaud the Missourian putting this assessment in the article. It provides a view independent of candidate rhetoric. Still is trying to ride the Akin story while Schaefer is trying to show he's not ignorant of the issue like Akin.

So, the positions are really not different according to the Missourian, and the rest of the article can simply be titled "What each candidate is saying about the other."

This is more balanced reporting, tho, and I do appreciate it. Without the assessment, the article takes on an entirely different tone and motive that I do care to see in a true "news" organization (I almost typed "legitimate" instead of "true", but sheesh that word is prolly not a good one to use right now.)

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 24, 2012 | 11:27 a.m.

Mary Still and all the other demo's trying to capitalize on this need to get a different platform. They need to get an argurment that holds water, this is not a Schaefer/Still issue. And as far as Women's rights!?! Most don't even know the definition or the current issues.

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 24, 2012 | 11:31 a.m.

Planned Parenthood was never about Women's rights! They don't support the family dynamic.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 24, 2012 | 11:35 a.m.

Having a child is a private, personal choice. If you can't support yourself, and you choose to have a child anyway, everyone else should have the choice not to help you avoid the financial consequences of that choice.

(Report Comment)
Sean Coder August 24, 2012 | 7:29 p.m.

Jimmy, you're correct in the assertion that having a child is a private, personal choice. Sometimes, people don't choose to get pregnant, as in the case of rape, ineffective birth control, etc. Women deserve to regulate their own bodies. Plus, your economic case is weak. Society would bear more costs without abortion because the children born to low-income mothers would most likely end up having a heavier economic burden on society.

(Report Comment)
Sean Coder August 24, 2012 | 7:32 p.m.

And along the lines of your logic, Jimmy, society should end all lifestyle choice medical practices... for example, insulin for Type 2 diabetes and chemotherapy for smokers with lung cancer. That sounds a quite tyrannical to me.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 24, 2012 | 8:15 p.m.

Sean, tyranny is forcing people to pay for other people's selfish, irresponsible choices, including choosing to have kids they know they can't afford, or losing a limb and being unable to work because they chose to eat themselves into obesity and diabetes.

Of course women should be free to choose abortion. And when they don't, they shouldn't expect everyone else to help support their children. That's the responsibility of them and their children's fathers.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle August 24, 2012 | 9:10 p.m.

Well, I'm here to defend (not really) Akin's Statements.

Quite frankly, women *do* have options to "shut that whole thing down." Just... not in the magical fairydust sense that Akin implied. There have always been "ways" and there will always be "ways" to shut that whole thing down. Until viability (a moving target but currently ~20+wks), the woman really has total and absolute control. This is why you can't end abortions without ending unwanted pregnancies.

Haven't I also made the point several times that you can't force a positive outcome? Instead of the fairy-tale idea that "evil" sex magically doesn't cause pregnancy, this is the real-life, practical outcome aspect that any kind of force used to control a pregnant woman potentially compromises the baby's outcome. We don't want that, do we?

Abstinence, first; then birth control, applied rigorously and liberally, (first, every time, regardless of marriage status) until you're ready for kids. For sure. I think it might make a difference, and I think it's time to try.

I wonder how many of our products have terms like "use liberally" or "apply liberally" on them? Now I'm curious... And once pointed out, I can imagine reactionaries like Frank throwing out products and/or calling or writing letters demanding to have the wording changed. <giggle> <giggle>

Dear women: Please organize, please register, please vote. And please, not for sex-issue obsessed control-freak wingnuts like Akin.

(Report Comment)
Steve Spellman August 24, 2012 | 10:17 p.m.

The giant birth control pill pack mascot was totally laugh out loud when I saw it this AM. At this rate, why not a condom mascot, too?
Nobody is talking about outlawing birth control pills. The rally is instead promoting subsidized birth control. And nonconsensual rape is still illegal.
On abortion: if we all have the right to life, liberty and property, the law needs to decide when personhood is achieved. fully at the age of majority: 18? When a kid could survive alone in the forest? The second the cord is cut? First breath taken? Birthed but still has the cord? Just before birth? 8 months gestation? Until end of the 1st trimester? At theoretical moment of fetus viability? Once the embyo is emplanted in the uteran wall? The law must draw a line and protect all those that are defined as people. I do not hear this course of logic at large in the public discussion, instead just these emotioned rants about rights for some at the expense of others, or accusations of immorality.
There is absolutely no consensus on abortion at the federal level. This issue is impossible to resolve in Washington, so should be a state issue. Not sure there is concensus here either. Yes, it is the women's body, but what if there is another person in there, too? I'd like to see a real debate on this, instead of crap rhetoic all over the place.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle August 24, 2012 | 10:50 p.m.

The line is actually at the intersection of viable and wanted, regardless of what anyone ever decides to codify into law about it. Didn't Roe V Wade more or less conclude the line was at the end of the first trimester?

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 24, 2012 | 11:00 p.m.

"Abstinence, first;"? ...... "I think it might make a difference, and I think it's time to try." That is a concession and you don't even know it!

I am "pro-choice". Abortion should remain legally available to any woman choosing to have one. The government should be no where near it, except in capacity of other health regulations. This would mean end to many, many Democrat votes, which is reason for the prominence of abortion issues, in most of our elections

I am conservative. I read labels of every product concerning fat intake, etc. "Liberally", would have nothing to do, on the can. You did not suggest "in the can". Conservatives are not against progress. Because of their other actions at the time, I opposed the healthful medical information being printed on the product as a waste of money (this was about the time our TV networks were caught setting up phoney scenes of sales of unhealthy produce and meat products. In other words it was your fault!). Since, I have controlled weight (problem since marriage) better than ever before, by watching fat intake, always indicated on those labels.

The "Dear women" is solidly in the liberal context of an election. If our economy is destroyed, women as well as men and children will be made to suffer immeasurably. Vote for the conservative, Todd Akin! If Harry Reid still leads the Senate, nothing will change!

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle August 25, 2012 | 10:02 a.m.

Whoa, I haven't been reading Frank lately.

He states, point blank, he thinks abortions should remain legally available to anyone who wants one (although his motivation for this position is just to sap Democratic votes); and further admits that "wasteful" product labeling requirements have ended up providing him with information that helps him take responsibility and improve his health (which actually saves a *ton* of money).

God Bless. That's a breath of fresh air!

Of course, as far as I can tell, the government already *isn't* anywhere near abortion (no direct funding), except in the context of being the entity responsible for keeping it legally available to anyone who wants one. Seems pretty much like the way it is now.

As for the rest, it looks like the political score here is:
McCatskill: 1
Akin: 1

Looks like a tie so far. That's why YOUR vote is important!

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 25, 2012 | 12:01 p.m.

Seems still impossible for you to read anything written in the English language, then repeat without a twisted version benefiting your liberal position. My statement indicated only that loss of Democrat votes would be an outcome if abortion was legally available to any woman who chose to have one, with the government no where near it. You may want to add that votes are the reason D' controlled government will continually Stay in the middle of abortion debate.

"Of course, as far as I can tell, the government already *isn't* anywhere near abortion (no direct funding),"

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 25, 2012 | 12:04 p.m.

Wait a minute, You wrote, God Bless? There, is the unexpected fresh air!

(Report Comment)

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