Akin isn't Missouri's only offender on women's issues
The Kansas City Star
The latest salvo in the war on women was fired Sunday by U.S. Rep Todd Akin, who told talk show host Charles Jaco that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because the “female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Rep. Akin’s astonishing remarks betray a gross insensitivity to rape victims, and a woeful ignorance of basic biology. His statements – including his unconvincing attempt to backpedal – were quickly decried by politicians in both parties.
President Obama called them “offensive.” Mitt Romney added that he would not oppose abortion in cases of rape.
Unfortunately, the same mindset of putting personal political ideology before the needs of women is pervasive in the Missouri Legislature.
This year it manifested in the passage of Senate Bill 749, a poorly developed piece of legislative overkill that could jeopardize access to contraception for hundreds of thousands of Missouri women and their families — this from legislators who want less government intrusion in the lives of Missourians.
I was relieved when Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill in July. However, efforts are underway for an override attempt in the veto session to be held on Wednesday, September 12.
SB 749 invites insurance companies to intrude upon deeply personal – and what should be private – decisions about contraception. It gives insurance companies the power to restrict access to contraception, even if employers and their employees want it.
For more than a decade, Missouri law has provided strong religious and moral protections to safeguard the beliefs of employees and employers regarding contraceptive coverage.
The protections apply whether an employer is a church or religious organization – or not. Employees and employers can opt out of providing or receiving contraceptive coverage, if it conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.
At the same time, current law acknowledges the rights of women and families who want to access contraception.
Senate Bill 749 shifts decision-making authority about access to contraceptive coverage away from Missouri women, and families and employers – and into the hands of insurance companies. That could set a dangerous precedent for the denial of other kinds of health care in the future.
If the Missouri Republican legislative leaders want to stop the war on women, they must get back in touch with real lives of 21st century women in Missouri.
I urge Missourians to contact their state legislators and tell them to sustain the Governor’s veto.
Sara Lampe is a Democratic Missouri state representative from Springfield, Mo.