Gov. Holden rallies for women

First Lady Lori Holden and Missouri NOW representatives applaud Gov. Holden´s work for women.

First Lady Lori Holden and Missouri NOW representatives applaud Gov. Holden´s work for women.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Signs reading “Pro-child, Pro-family, Pro-choice” floated throughout the Capitol rotunda Feb. 17 as representatives from Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, Missouri National Organization of Women and Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice congregated to listen to addresses given by Gov. Bob Holden, First Lady Lori Holden, as well as Senator Maida Coleman (D-St.Louis) and Miss Missouri, Amber Etheridge.

Lori Holden spoke on the work her husband had done to ensure the protection of the rights of women. She urged the audience to continue to support the governor and other elected leaders who support their views.

“We are strong today, because we can draw from their strength,” she said.

Gov. Holden talked on the importance of organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

“For many, many women, these low-cost programs are all they receive,” he said.

“Family planning does reduce abortion. Our records in Missouri prove that since 1990 abortions in Missouri have decreased.”

He questioned Missouri legislators on why they continue to intrude on women’s personal lives.

“Why do these legislators feel they need to be smack dab in the middle of the most important issue a woman can make?” Holden said. “What goes on behind closed doors is none of their business.”

Contraception and the access to contraception for all women in Missouri was something the governor thought was important to the decrease in abortions.

The governor said $5 million was set-aside in the 2004 budget to go toward family planning. He accused the Republican legislators of cutting the money out of the budget before it could even be voted on. The year 2004 is an election year, and the governor urged everyone to become involved in the campaign, to give generously and to work every day to make sure Missouri government supports women.

“If they don’t stand with us, let’s find someone to replace them,” Holden said.

“Don’t tell me you can’t get reelected on this issue.”

The governor concluded with a statement promising the crowd that he would veto any legislation that reached his desk that was not pro-choice.

Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R-Webb City) rebuked the governor’s claims that the House had kept money from going toward family planning.

“The House did not appropriate money to go to an organization that gives abortions or assists in abortions,” Stevenson said.

“I presented an amendment that would include alternatives to abortion.”

Contraception, as defined by Stevenson, included birth control, not “the day after pill” or any other such drug and he felt it was a good thing to have available, but not something the state should necessarily be responsible for paying for.

Rep. Marilyn Ruestman (R-Joplin) said that legislators were elected by the will of the people to represent the will of the people.

Ruestman supported a woman’s right to choose, however she believed it was a right that needed to be carefully examined.

“There is a 24-hour waiting period before you can get a lone,” Ruestman said. “Shouldn’t there be 24 hours before a woman makes this important of a personal decision.”

She referred to legislation passed in 2003 that would require women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion.

“All we are asking is that you take this time and think about it,” she said. “We are not telling you what to do.”