The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 1, 2012

Sandie Morgan, guest columnist: A serious choice — for more than women

By Sandie Morgan
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — A widespread opinion lately has been that this is one of the most important elections in years. Voters in Missouri have a very important choice to make for the U.S. Senate, the middle-of-the-road Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, or the extreme, radical Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin.

Each year, the 100 U.S. Senate members are rated from 1 to 100 on where they stand from conservative to liberal. McCaskill is rated at number 50 on this scale, the perfect place for a moderate, nonpartisan senator willing to put Missouri’s interests before the interests of party.

Congressman Akin is a conservative also representing many traditional values, but recent statements by the congressman also characterize him as radical. So there are important differences that should be considered as you choose for whom to vote.

Recently, Akin made a statement about women’s reproductive health — that in cases of rape a woman’s body shuts down its ability to conceive. He has also expressed views that the government shouldn’t pay for contraception. The bill he co-sponsored with Rep. Paul Ryan, the Sanctity of Life Act of 2009, would not simply ban abortion, it could turn many forms of birth control into the legal equivalent of a murder weapon. Thus, Ryan and Akin’s personhood bill could render the act of using many forms of oral contraception the equivalent of a homicide crime.

He has apologized for his statement about rape, and while he should be forgiven for not understanding how a woman’s body works, it doesn’t change the fact that he has views on women and contraception that are not only incorrect but have possible repercussions in other areas.

In a study by the Washington School of Medicine, in which women were given free contraceptives at no cost, the program substantially reduced unplanned pregnancies and cut abortion rates by 62 percent to 78 percent over the national rate.

“The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies,” said lead author Dr. Jeff Peipert, the Robert J. Terry professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Unintended pregnancies are a major problem in the United States. Each year, about 50 percent of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, far higher than in other developed countries. About half of these pregnancies result from women not using contraception and half from incorrect or irregular use. The Contraceptive Choice Project enrolled 9,256 women and adolescents in the St. Louis area between 2007 and 2011. Participants were 14 to 45 years old, at risk for unintended pregnancy, and willing to start a new contraceptive method. If you would like more information on this study, go online and look up birth control and reduced abortion rates.

No matter whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, many want to see abortions limited. Your vote for Sen. McCaskill and her support of contraception as opposed to Rep. Akin’s stand against contraception could help with that limitation.

Abortion is an issue important to men as well as women, and a vote for Sen. McCaskill is the better choice for reducing abortions and for our state.

Sandie Morgan lives in Joplin.