The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High


The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High


The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High


Revoked: The life-or-death nature of abortion rights

The Show-Me-State chooses to show women who calls the shots
Lauren Holcomb
Since the Supreme Court’s repeal of the federal law protecting a women’s fundamental right to abortion, many states have begun to restrict access to or even ban abortion. On June 24th, 2022, Missouri was one of many states to move to ban abortion. “Missouri is giving fetuses more rights than humans who’ve been on this world for many years. If someone [wants] to have an abortion because of whatever [reason], it should be their choice. You don’t know why they’re in that position and you don’t know why they need an abortion,” senior Mars Allendorph said.

Disclaimer: This article mentions abortion, sexual assault, incest and abuse

On Feb. 7, Missouri senators voted against an amendment that would allow the abortions in cases of rape and incest. This decision comes less than two years after Missouri’s “trigger law,” a response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, went into action to effectively ban abortion in the state. 

Who would’ve expected this in a state that has never had a female governor or where women make up less than 30% of the state government?

Currently, Missouri only allows abortions in medical emergencies when “a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” This definition is vague and has dangerous implications, as it does not provide a clear outline of when an abortion is acceptable. This has already been seen in the case of Missouri woman Mylissa Farmer, who had a non-viable pregnancy. Her water broke 17 weeks into her pregnancy, and doctors told her the baby was going to die, threatening a high risk on Farmer’s life as well. Despite the threat, Missourian medical practitioners were not sure if they could provide an abortion because her baby still had a heartbeat. It was later ruled that the hospital endangered Farmer by not providing her care, but due to the vague legalities associated with the abortion-banning bill SB699, the doctors had good reason to be hesitant. 

A doctor who performs an abortion when the woman does not qualify for a “medical emergency” can be charged with a Class B felony. This could mean five to 15 years in prison and a likely revocation of their medical license. With these strict penalties, it’s hard to imagine any doctor would be very willing to perform abortions, particularly in cases where it’s not evident whether or not the woman’s life is fully at risk. This leads to cases like Farmer’s, in which women are denied essential healthcare out of fear, endangering their lives.

Even worse, in 2023, one Missourian bill was proposed that would charge women who receive abortions with homicide. Though the subsequent controversy led to the withdrawal of the bill, the fact that this was even considered a serious option reveals that women who seek abortions are demonized by lawmakers who will be assumed.  

Senators are not hiding their disdain for abortions and women who receive them, either.  Democratic Sen. Tracy McCreery was the one to propose the amendments that would’ve allowed abortion in cases of rape and incest, believing that Missouri had gone too far in its ban. However, all 24 Republican senators voted against it —  the group of which only seven were women and allwere white. 

One Republican senator in particular, Sen. Sandy Crawford, used his Christian beliefs as his opposing evidence.

“God is perfect. God does not make mistakes and for some reason he allows [rape] to happen. Bad things happen,” Crawford said. 

Not only is Crawford’s claim a hideous violation of the First Amendment, which requires the Separation of Church and State, but implying that God purposely allows for rape and incest is a slap in the face to victims of sexual assault everywhere. Crawford is taking women’s rights away and then cowering behind the excuse of religious necessity. 

Regardless of the disgusting nature of that comment, arguments of morality in general are completely irrelevant in the discussion of abortion, whether religious or secular. The issue of abortion stems from scientific, medical and constitutional means.

Forcing someone to remain pregnant can be medically negligent. Pregnancy-related complications can lead to serious, long-term effects such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Even the typical pains of pregnancy can cause severe discomfort. Nausea, vomiting, fatigue and breathlessness are all normal side effects of pregnancy that no one should undergo against their will. 

“[Pregnancy] is not a fun process. When [my mom] was pregnant with me she could not even get out of bed,” Allendorph said. “Senators are forcing people to go through that process against their will [which] is straight-up torture in some situations. Some people can die from pregnancy.” 

And it’s not just cruel to the mother. Children born as a product of incest are far more likely to have birth defects and developmental issues that will affect them for the rest of their lives, and children born as a result of rape often have poor relationships with their mothers as they serve as a reminder of the trauma she has experienced. 

At its heart, the foundation of the nation in The Declaration of Independence guarantees citizens the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Forced pregnancy interferes with all of these, especially the pursuit of happiness. 

The fact of the matter is that morality arguments have completely warped the abortion issue beyond recognition. Behind the shroud of politicization and conservative pearl-clutching, the simple fact is that abortion is a medical procedure that is genuinely needed by thousands of women every single day. 

In Mississippi in 2023, a 13-year-old girl was denied an abortion after a stranger raped her. It’s difficult to read this story without being purely enveloped by the tragedy of the situation; however, the fact is that with current abortion laws, this exact scenario could happen here in Missouri, too. 

Rape is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can suffer through, and no one should be forced also to give birth to the baby of their rapist — but especially not a child. Adolescent girls are physically not ready to have babies; teen mothers are more likely to contract eclampsia, which causes seizures,  and puerperal endometritis, which can cause sepsis if left untreated,  as well as have premature babies at higher rates and babies with lower birth weights. 

Reproductive coercion — abusive behavior that interferes with someone’s ability to make decisions about their reproductive rights — is another concern heightened by the lack of abortion accessibility. A common example of this is tampering with contraceptives, like hiding birth control pills or poking holes in condoms to force a woman to have a baby. 

Even in cases in which a fetus was conceived during consensual sex by an adult woman, not having access to abortion has serious psychological side effects. Studies have shown that women who are unable to obtain abortions when they need one are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety, lower self-esteem and lower life satisfaction.  

Furthermore, it’s not just the mother who’s affected. Children of unwanted pregnancies often have higher rates of fearfulness and have lower scores on verbal development tests, even if their verbal memory is fine. In extreme cases, children from mothers who were denied abortions were found to be less well-adjusted socially and more frequently in psychiatric care and criminal registers. 

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Despite the many detrimental effects of unwanted pregnancy, considering the poverty rate for single parent households in Missouri, which is almost 20% higher than the average Missourian households, it’s clear that a woman needs support to raise a child. Therefore, if an abusive man gets a woman impregnated, she will likely stay with him. This is also because abusive men often isolate their female partners from their friends and families, so if she were to get pregnant, she would likely already have no other support. Thus, he would be able to weaponize her pregnancy and successfully trap her in an unhealthy relationship.  

The risk posed to pregnant women by domestic violence is affirmed by the fact that women who don’t have access to abortion experience an increased rate of physical violence from men. Disturbingly, homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women and women who are recently postpartum. Pregnant women in abusive relationships are simply not safe, and neither are their children. Making them stay pregnant is endangering their lives, so by denying access to abortion, Missouri senators are aiding and abetting abusers. 

To argue against Republican senators that they also have wives and daughters who are also vulnerable to the trauma of being raped and impregnated is completely futile. The second their close female family member gets unwantedly pregnant, they suddenly lose their aversion to abortion; a clear example  is when pro-life politician Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvanian representative, pressured his mistress into getting an abortion in 2017. Or Tennessean congressman Scott DesJarlais, who bragged of his 100% pro-life voting record, despite supporting his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage. Even worse, during his time as a doctor, he pressured a young patient he was having an affair with to get an abortion. 

But to a young, working-class girl, they do not have the same options. 

Having a baby severely impairs a woman’s future wages, and single moms are more likely to be impoverished because they lack a second income to support them. This is particularly relevant because Missouri has a relatively high number of single mothers.

But it’s not just the fact that pregnant women are impoverished — it’s also significantly harder for them to get out of poverty.  

Single moms are the most likely out of all groups of women to begin college but not finish it. This is because the stigma around single mothers often detirorates their support system, putting pressure on the mother to support her baby completely, even to her own detriment. This is harmful to long-term financial status. A person with a bachelor’s degree makes 84% more than a person without; a college education is more than necessary to make even a living wage, let alone also raise a child. Additionally, Missouri women only earn 79.5% as much as their male counterparts, further necessitating that they prioritize work over education. 

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If a girl gets pregnant and has no financial or emotional support, whether that comes from a partner, friends or family, her future is irrevocably changed, often for the worse. Adoption is commonly suggested as a viable option, and it’s a seemingly fair suggestion to make, but it’s not sustainable. There are already approximately 13,000 children in the Missourian foster care system, and very few of these children are being properly looked after. 

Of course, it’s admirable to foster a child for purely humanistic reasons, but that’s not the reality many foster children’s experiences. In 2021, 75% of foster children suffered neglect, 16% experienced physical abuse, 10% experienced sexual abuse and 6% experienced emotional abuse. It’s not any more moral to give a child up in a system that is riddled with abuse than it is to terminate a pregnancy. And to everyone who continues to suggest this as an option, how many children have you adopted?

Pretending that giving up a child is not hard is also ignorant. By evolution, many women begin to feel maternal instincts for their child within moments of seeing them. Even if a woman is unable to care for a child, it’s entirely against natural design to expect women to want to give up their child, affirmed by a survey in which 89% of mothers answered ‘extremely true’ to the statement “relinquishing my child was a traumatic experience.” 

To propose that women could carry an unwanted pregnancy for nine grueling months and then immediately give it up to a stranger after going through the trauma of birth, as if it’s a simple solution, is the best representation of the pro-life movement possible: well-intentioned, but ultimately ignorant. 

Additionally, no contraceptive is 100% effective. Most are familiar with this phrase as a trite adage in backward sex education, but it’s true. However, that doesn’t mean that expecting strict abstinence is the solution. The average age for a girl to become sexually active is 17.3 years;  while whether or not that is an appropriate age for this is subjective, it does mean that politicians interested in laws surrounding abortion should consider this number when forming legislation that affects these teens. 

Contrary to what we would like to believe, no girl who is sexually active is exempt from the risk of teenage pregnancy. By age 17, over half of American girls have had intercourse. To pretend that girls at West are all exempt from the risk of teen pregnancy is to live in denial. In 2023, Missouri had the 13th highest teen pregnancy rate in the United States.  

Many girls at Parkway West have bright futures to look forward to, and they should be able to continue to look forward to them. Of the 82 students that have submitted to the “2024 Senior Send-Off Map,” an interactive map that depicts the class of 2024 seniors’ plans, about 72% of those seeking higher education were girls.  

Yet despite these futures, the current abortion law would expect them to give that up in a second if they accidentally fell pregnant. Ruining the futures and ambitions of innumerable bright young girls and women can hardly be considered “pro-life.” In fact, the legislation passed in the name of the pro-life movement has only hindered the quality of life for thousands of women.

Contrary to widespread belief, the ultimate goals of the pro-life movement are not contradictory to those of the pro-choice movement. The motive of the pro-life side is truly just to decrease the number of abortions performed in the United States. And pro-choice doesn’t mean wanting women to have abortions; it simply means wanting women to be able to make the choice for themselves. 

However, the true basis of these movements are often overlooked because the divisiveness of abortion has allowed politicians of any party to capitalize on the fears of either the pro-life or pro-choice movements. 

“Abortion is probably one of the most polarized issues as far as conservatives versus liberals go. It tends to be one of those issues where people have pretty hardcore stances: either pro-abortion or anti-abortion. There’s not a lot of wiggle room in between, [so] this is probably one of the greatest issues that creates our current party polarization,” history teacher Jeffrey Chazen said. 

The truth of the matter is that there isn’t anything wrong with wanting fewer abortions to be performed. The only thing wrong with the pro-life movement is the tactics being used: namely, restricting the freedom of women. There are a number of humanitarian methods like universal healthcare, affordable daycare and decreasing the wage gap that we can use to decrease abortion rates, and they could even potentially unify both the left and right. 

It’s dangerous to villainize Republicans as a whole. Though Republican politicians may utilize machiavellian methods to remain in power and control women, that doesn’t necessarily reflect Republican citizens. In 2020, 35% of Republican citizens were in disagreement with their party over abortion. Additionally, one campaign to restore abortion rights in Missouri was Republican-led. The campaign ended in February, withdrawing its attempt to get an abortion-centered initiative on a ballot to allow for a rival Democrat campaign to move forward without competition. Despite its lack of success, the campaign proved that no demographic of voters is truly monolithic, the Republican party included.

Just last month, Missouri governor and Republican Mike Parson proposed spending almost $130 million to help low-income families access childcare and create tax credits to support childcare providers. This is an incredible feat that will certainly help to support mothers and children; more of this should be encouraged, because this is how abortions are prevented without forcing trauma upon innocent women. 

Money matters when it comes to deciding whether to have a baby. For many women, the costs associated with pregnancy and raising a child can be overwhelming. sp access to affordable abortion options is crucial because it allows individuals to make choices that fit their financial situation. “[Poorer women] don’t have the money to take care of a child. So, if they’re forced to have a child, that could be really devastating,” junior Avri Buehler said. (Lauren Holcomb)
Many additional  movements can be initiated to naturally lower abortion rates. One would be increasing the minimum wage. Currently, Missouri’s minimum wage is $12.30. Raising this would allow poorer families, the demographic that unwanted pregnancies primarily affect, to support their children and themselves.  

Another would be providing more maternal leave and paid paternal leave. Many women simply can’t afford to leave their jobs. Affordable childcare would also help with this for women who can absolutely not leave their jobs because it would provide a way for them to continue to work while ensuring their children will be taken care of. 

Making college more accessible would also increase the number of single mothers who attend. This is not only beneficial to the mother, who will be in a better financial position to better obtain her goals, but her children will also be more educated

Improved mandatory sex education would be a simple and preemptive tactic. Schools in Missouri are not required to teach sex-ed, and if a school chooses to teach sex education, they are required to encourage abstinence. The curriculum does not have to be sequential, meaning that the subjects being taught do not necessarily have to build off of previous lessons; therefore, repetitive lessons are far too common. This is all quite unfortunate, because the source of lowering teen pregnancies and abortion comes from increased sex-ed. It’s necessary to strengthen our education so that the next generation doesn’t live in ignorance.

It’s true that even after instituting every single one of these measures, women will still get abortions. But that is true of abortion bans as well. Unsafe abortions — also known as back alley abortions — were estimated to have claimed the lives of 68,000 women annually in the 2000s. Unsafe abortion is still one of the highest causes of maternal mortality today, particularly in countries with restrictive abortion policies. 

There are a plethora of things that curb women from seeking abortions besides restricting their rights. It’s easy enough to dismiss pro-life individuals as misguided people who don’t understand their own goals, but the politicians who are enacting pro-life policies are taking advantage of women’s bodies and utilizing this issue to meet goals of their own. 

The truth of the matter is that the people undergoing abortions are living, breathing women whose potential lives could be ruined if they are unable to access an abortion. They don’t need judgement and hatred in this vulnerable time, they need our help. 

Missouri’s gubernatorial election is set to take place on Nov. 5, 2024. Many of West’s 2024 seniors and juniors will be eligible to vote by then.  

Missouri’s Secretary of State and Republican Jay Ashcroft is more than happy to take on the burden of oppressing women. Ashcroft was endorsed by the pro-life organization Missouri Right to Life, whose website advertises a hotline to report “Pro-Abortion” signature gatherers who seek signatures for a pro-choice initiative petition. It makes sense why the organization chose to hitch their wagon to Ashcroft, as his views on abortion are about as extremist as theirs. 

When a spokesperson was asked if Ashcroft would consider amendments allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest to the bill, the spokesperson simply replied that Ashcroft supports the “existing law.” And in a matter of how to word a question concerning abortion on a ballot, Ashcroft suggested that the ballot ask voters if they are in favor of allowing “dangerous and unregulated abortions until live birth.” This misleading and fear-mongering language was rejected, much to the disapointment of Ashcroft

Republican and Missouri Sen. Bill Eigel has equally extremist but far more misinformed views on abortion. In the hearing where the amendments to add exceptions for cases of rape and incest were originally discussed, Eigel brought up an interesting concern while speaking to another senator with an opposing viewpoint. 

“You want to bring back the institution of abortion so that kids can get abortions in the state of Missouri. A one-year-old could get an abortion under this,” Eigel said. 

If he wasn’t a potential governor, the absurdity of the situation would be hilarious. The lack of any sort of medical knowledge is obvious and quite comical. 

However, it’s concerning how if somehow a one-year-old got pregnant, Eigel would find it humane to force a toddler to have a child — something that would certainly mean death, as no toddler has the physical or mental capacity to be pregnant for nine months, let alone give birth. It’s interesting how Eigel cares so much about children up until they’re born. The concept of a child is so much more appealing than the child itself. 

Though the lack of empathy from Eigel and Ashcroft alone is off-putting, it is still probable that this unfeelingness will not be punished and instead be elected. 

“Right now, Missouri is a pretty conservative state, and currently, abortion is banned in Missouri. So legislatively, we are on the conservative side. Unless something dramatically changes, the Republicans are going to win. And I’m pretty sure that the Republican candidate will be very much an anti-abortion candidate,” Chazen said. 

Out of the three declared Republican candidates, Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe is certainly the most liberal in the matter of abortion, having announced that he is open to making amendments in cases of rape or incest. Shocking how in the year of 2024, a Missouri Republican candidate merely being willing to consider to allow for a woman to get an abortion after she was raped is somehow a breath of fresh air. 

Minority leader Crystal Quade is one of only two Democratic candidates, and the only one out of the five declared candidates to openly identify as pro-choice. In addition, a large amount of her platform has been dedicated to abortion rights and her desire to restore them fully. Of course, since Missouri is so overwhelmingly Republican, it’s difficult to say honestly whether or not she will be successful. 

This does not mean that all hope is lost, however. Missouri may join other states in allowing citizens to vote directly on the matter of abortion. Earlier this month, the initiative to put abortion on the ballot received twice as many signatures as needed, moving women one step closer to being able to make their own choices regarding their bodies and futures. “We have seen when conservative states have opened [abortion rights] up to voting, for instance, in Kansas and Ohio. The people of Missouri might end up having the power to expand abortion rights if it’s allowed to be voted on by the residents of Missouri,” Chazen said.

Even more important than how we vote is how we act in our day-to-day lives. Love thy neighbor. As previously established, there are a myriad of reasons why someone may choose to get an abortion and the decision and process can be and often is traumatic for many women.  In any event, no one needs the additional stress of pro-life protestors callously calling them murderers. 

So, regardless of one’s individualistic stance on abortion, the perspective of women impacted by this matter should be one that is centered in empathy. Acknowledge that many women who choose abortion did so to survive and recognize that wanting to punish women for premarital sex and not using contraceptives is a signal that one should take a step back and question the belief system underpinning their self-appointed moral authority.    

Who knows, maybe you’ll need that same empathy someday.  

“I challenge [people who victim blame] to think about how [women who seek abortions] feel in those situations. Try and feel, because when you experience trauma of any kind, you don’t get away from it; it changes your brain chemistry and you live that every single day. [Do we] truly want to live in [a world] where [such a large] portion of the population is afraid to step outside their homes?” Allendorph said. 

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Lauren Holcomb
Lauren Holcomb, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 12 Years on staff: 3 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath. Who is your hero? Either Joan Didion or Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
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  • C

    CarleeMay 15, 2024 at 10:09 pm

    Everything about this situation is so scary. People shouldn’t be backing their political choices with religion. Absolutely ridiculous

    • W

      Will GonsiorMay 16, 2024 at 10:11 am

      Why not? Most people agree that political leaders should be moral, but different leaders interpret that differently. “All political leaders should govern like humanists” is a really arbitrary take, and the system was designed to prevent any one ideology from being the “standard.” Instead, people vote for politicians that represent their views and have similar philosophies on what is and is not moral. For many politicians, such as Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden, the conception of morality comes from religion. They don’t understand how to interpret what is and is not moral without religion — for instance, Joe Biden can’t weigh whether to prioritize his strong belief in the existence of a Jewish state, his desire to uplift fellow democracies, and his desire to protect the Israeli people from Iran over the needless loss of life to American weapons without understanding that through the lens of his faith. The founding fathers anticipated that leaders would govern after their own ideologies and instituted checks and balances as well as a system of limited government, which suppress the extent to which leaders can remake the country in their own image. That said, I do take issue with leaders who are unwilling to pursue the programs such as the child tax credit that allow women to raise children and thereby limit abortions if they truly believe that abortion is murder. There are many who do have a ridiculous approach to this issue.