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Missouri Making Gains in Women's Equality

Missouri Women says a new voter id law on the November ballot could suppress their vote. (Missouri Women's Leadership Coalition)
Missouri Women says a new voter id law on the November ballot could suppress their vote. (Missouri Women's Leadership Coalition)
August 26, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Missouri has made some strides when it comes to equal rights for women, but on this "Women's Equality Day," which recognizes the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, advocates say there's still a lot of work to be done, especially when it comes to equal pay and reproductive rights.

Jane Crigler, president of the Missouri Women's Coalition, said there's another big issue in the state that affects women: the Voter ID law that will be on the November ballot. If approved it would change the state constitution by requiring everyone to produce identification.

"Women are the ones who change their names oftentimes when they get married, and so now they have to make sure that their registration is in their new name," she said. "Some of the older women, for various reasons, don't have the kind of ID that's going to be required."

In Missouri, voters already have to show some ID, but many documents are accepted including utility bills and state university student IDs. Democrats say the law is an attempt to drive down turnout among minority voters. Republicans who support it say it will cut down on voter fraud.

Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said that and other issues such as reproductive rights are examples of why women have to keep up the fight to make their voices heard.

"Some 300 laws have been put on the books, actually passed and signed by governors, at the state level, restricting in one fashion or another women's access to reproductive health care, whether it's through defunding family planning clinics or outright banning abortion care," she said.

Crigler, who was just honored by the Missouri Women's Network, said women are making some strides towards equality.

"I think the fact that we have a woman candidate for president, I do think there's going to be some other benefits from that with some local races," she added.

August 26th, Women's Equality Day was set aside by Congress in 1971 to mark the 1920 passage of the law that guaranteed the right to vote to women.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO