Report: Missouri Failing Women
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - After a legislative session in which the state passed harsh new abortion restrictions and failed yet again to expand Medicaid, advocates say it's no surprise Missouri earned failing grades in a new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.
Seileach Corleigh is president of the Missouri chapter of the National Organization for Women, and she says this is the result of what she calls an all-out war on women led by conservative lawmakers.
"I feel sad and outraged but unsurprised because this is the direction things have been going in. I also feel frustrated that so many people out there don't know that this is going on," she says.
Last fall, lawmakers overrode Governor Jay Nixon's veto of a 72-hour waiting period for abortions, with no exemptions for rape or incest. The report ranks Missouri 44th in the nation for reproductive rights, and 41st for protecting the health and well-being of its female citizens.
Lawmakers have argued that reforms must first be made to Missouri's existing Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, before expanding it. But Corleigh says allowing nearly 150,000 Missourians to stay in what's known as the "coverage gap" means denying struggling women basic preventive care as well as family planning.
"They don't want to give poor people help in supporting their children that they have, and they're basically making sure that women have more," she says.
Missouri did not earn any grades higher than "C" in the report, which also looked at work and family issues, employment and earnings, and political participation.