JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Nearly 500 members of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, the National Organization for Women and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice converged here March 15 to pressure Republican Gov. Matt Blunt and the state Legislature to back off their assault on the reproductive rights of this state’s women.

“This year anti-choice legislators are not only targeting access to abortion, but are also targeting sex education and family planning services,” Michelle Trupiano, Planned Parenthood’s grassroots organizer, told the World. She cited two examples of the all-out attack on reproductive and sex education: the “Provider Gag Rule” which would prevent any agency from receiving state funds if they provide pregnant women with information about all options; and the “Sex Ed Prevention Bill,” which would prevent any provider of abortion services from providing sex education to students in any public education or secondary school in the state.

State Representative John Bowman told the World, “This state is going backwards faster than warp-speed. Family planning is the best way to prevent abortions, but they want to get rid of family planning and reproductive educational services. Matt Blunt doesn’t care about the needs of the people in this state. All he cares about is Big Business.”

Ninety-seven percent of Missouri’s counties have no abortion provider, and the state’s women are subjected to biased abortion counseling and mandatory delays, according to

NARAL’s 2005 report, “Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Rights in the United States.” NARAL has ranked Missouri as a “Grade F state,” with one of the worst reproductive rights records in the country.

“The continued attacks by Republican and Democratic hardliners are designed to deny women their reproductive rights,” said Kathy McKemy, president of Missouri NOW.

Lobbyists urged their elected officials to support the Patient Protection Act (SB 458). Currently, Missouri pharmacists are permitted to turn women away without filling prescriptions from their doctors for birth control and emergency contraception. SB 458 would require pharmacists to fulfill their professional responsibility to fill any prescriptions written by a women’s physician.

In the Capitol rotunda, Dem-ocratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said, “We have to stay focused on our fundamental principles: prevention, education and access.” Carnahan added, “Our struggle for reproductive rights is really a struggle about hope, compassion and common sense.”

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