Pro-Choice, Pro-Life rallies at Capitol during special session

Pro-choice, pro-life groups rally at...

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - In the same day, the Capitol was filled with two groups holding opposite ideals. 

A pro-choice rally was held in the Capitol at 11 a.m. Wednesday. NARAL organized the event, which featured speakers from Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and multiple women who have used Planned Parenthood for health care or have been affected by Missouri abortion laws. 

Rachel Goldberg is a NARAL member from Springfield. She spoke about her first pregnancy experience that included high-risk complications. She said because of Missouri abortion laws, she needed to drive to Colorado to have the procedure done. 

“I find it really insulting that they would call a special session to enact more of these laws that would hurt more women,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg said she believes the special session is a waste of time and money. 

“I think it just shows how much (Gov. Eric Greitens) disregards women’s health and rights, because this is clearly a show for his own political gain and on the backs of women like me,” Goldberg said.

Brenda Van Norman drove to Jefferson City from St. Louis with her husband. She said she had a child with multiple birth defects who did not live more than 12 hours. Back then, she said, there were no tests to be able to know that before the birth. Van Norman said if more anti-abortion laws pass, and the same complications she experienced were to happen today, she's afraid women will have to drive out of state for the procedure. 

"I have a granddaughter now that is pregnant," Van Norman said. "We don’t know if it’s hereditary but she’s letting her doctor know this has happened. And if it is hereditary, I’ve got one son that’s fine, there’s no problems, but I’ve got two granddaughters. That concerns me."

Rep. Bruce Franks, a Democrat representing St. Louis city, was also at the NARAL rally. He also attended the hours-long Senate committee hearing Tuesday that heard three pro-life bills. One of those bills, Senate Bill 6, would overturn a St. Louis city ordinance in his district. 

"We’re going to protect people from being discriminated against," Franks said. "We understand people have their religious beliefs, so we’re going to put the exemptions in here because we have to. So for the state to come and say, 'No you can’t do it,' that’s a problem. You’re taking that power away from local government, and taking that power away from the people who say, 'This is what we need to do in our city.' And we have a bunch of folks who aren’t from the city of St. Louis saying, ‘No you can’t do this in your city,’ when you don’t know the dynamics of what’s going on in our city.”

Just after 3 p.m., just two floors above where the pro-choice rally was held, Gov. Greitens hosted a pro-life rally that drew dozens of people. 

The second rally of the day featured speakers from local pregnancy-help centers, including employees and former patients, who shared their experiences. 

The president of the Missouri Right to Life organization also spoke. He said he believes this is the first time in state history a special session has been called to talk about life issues. 

Before Greitens spoke, a pro-choice woman interrupted a speaker's testimony, yelling her own opinion over the speaker's voice. Capitol police escorted the woman out of the rally while other attendees began chanting, "We are pro-life." 

After getting a standing ovation, Greitens talked about the need to protect the pregnancy-help centers and not cut their funding, something he said NARAL is trying to do. He also said "radical politicians" in St. Louis are trying to create an "abortion sanctuary city."

Greitens said the special session was called to protect the centers and to propose common sense health and safety standards for the people of Missouri. 

"I think what you’ve seen today is the tremendous support that exists across the state of Missouri for this really important work," Greitens said. 

When asked about the cost of this special session, and how much tax dollars are being used to fund it, Greitens said one of his responsibilities as governor is to defend life and protect life. 

"We had to call this special session because it’s really important work needed to get done," Greitens said. "As I mentioned, I came in as an outsider and I told people we were going shake things up. I told people we were going put an end to politics as usual and this work needed to be done. That’s why I called the legislature back, because they need to do their job and they need to get this important work done."

The governor also mentioned the Senate Resolution that was filed during this special session that would create an investigative team to look into the Office of the Governor. 

"I came in as a conservative and an outsider, and it is very clear that you have a few politicians that don’t want to be here for a pro-life special session," Greitens said. "Some of them are throwing a temper tantrum on the Senate floor. That stuff doesn’t bother us. We’re here to fight for the people of Missouri and we’re focused on our agenda, which is more jobs, higher pay, safer streets and better schools for the people of Missouri."

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