Missouri is the fifth worst state in the nation for children who are victims of violence. It’s the 16th worst for preventable childhood deaths from all causes. It’s the 19th worst for children having children. It’s the 13th worst for children’s overall health. It has the country’s 16th highest rate of babies who die before age two.
Having proven that they don’t care about children after they’re born, the GOP super-majority in the Missouri Legislature and the unelected Republican Governor have instead focused their compassion on embryos, decreeing that women in Missouri can’t have abortions after eight weeks of gestation, before many women even know they’re pregnant, and at which point the embryo inside a woman’s body is the size of a small peanut and the weight of three raisins.
The claims of the religious extremists who approved the plainly unconstitutional “fetal heartbeat” act of being “pro-life” fall apart when you examine how easily they discard the well-being of real, breathing children. Missouri has continually failed to fully fund education, from primary school through universities. The state’s refusal to expand Medicaid puts the health of real children at even further risk. Missouri’s lack of health care for children was one of the reasons the newest report from the United Health Foundation ranks Missouri the 10th unhealthiest state in America.
It’s a problem freshman State Representative LaKeySha Bosley knows all too well. Her 79th House District includes some of the state’s poorest areas, stretching from Jeff-Vander-Lou on the North Side to Fox Park on the South Side. She’s seen the results of the state’s not-so-benign neglect of children’s health issues. And she’s baffled about the attention being paid to abortion.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s infuriating. It’s all of these things. You go through every series of emotion when you hear and see something like this,” said Bosley, referring to the new anti-abortion law that makes no exceptions for rape or incest, and threatens any medical professional to helps with a woman’s abortion after eight weeks with 15 years in prison.
“It’s my body. It’s for me to do. It’s for me to say. It’s not for you. You can’t do this. You can’t conceive. You don’t know what it feels like,” she said angrily. “For us to even consider this is in itself absolutely outrageous. But for us to actually pass it is more devastating than anything.”
The latest Bosley to enter public service — her father was 3rd Ward Alderman for 40 years, her brother was the city’s first African-American mayor, and another brother is the current 3rd Ward alderman — the 26-year-old first-year state Rep is worried that this law lays the groundwork for the state to outlaw at least some forms of contraception.
“If this is the blueprint, then yes. That could be a very big possibility. And I say that because you have no exceptions within this abortion ban,” she told The Jaco Report.
Bosley also claims that some Republicans told her privately that they were horrified at the bill but voted for it anyway.
“There are a few. But you cannot not vote the way that your party wants you to on some things.”
Bosley freely acknowledges that she’s not old enough yet to have become cynical about the legislative process.
“I refuse to give up, and I refuse to become cynical,” she said, noting that Democrats are a tiny minority in Jefferson City because of simple arithmetic — not enough Democratic voters.
“That’s why I tell every 17-and-a-half-year-old and every 18-year-old I know to register and vote. This is our future at stake.”