Submitted by Dr. Valerie French, OB/GYN
I’m a physician and a member the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the nation’s leading organization of women’s health care physicians. As an obgyn practicing in Kansas City, I'm honored to provide women with quality health care every day. But politicians are trying to pick and choose the health care options available to women and their families.
The Title X program has provided critical preventive care to US families for nearly 50 years, and now serves more than 4 million people annually. The Trump administration has released a policy called the “gag rule,” which will strip critical Title X funds away from health care providers who offer information about the full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion. This “gag rule” is blatant censorship and if enacted, will prevent health care providers from carrying out their ethical duty to provide complete and accurate medical information to their patients.
If the “gag rule” were to be our new reality, my patients and patients around the country would be immediately affected. Let me tell you about a woman I recently cared for, I’ll call her Sarah. Sarah had given birth 2 months before I met her and had gotten her tubes tied after delivery. You can imagine her surprise when her pregnancy test was positive. When I told Sarah that she was pregnant, she wanted to discuss what her pregnancy options were. As Sarah weighed the care of her 2-month-old, her financial situation and her health, she asked where she could safely obtain an abortion. As her doctor, we talked about how and where she could get an abortion. We talked about the necessary time away from her job and her family. We never once considered what politicians might think of us discussing a safe, legal, medical procedure. Everyone should have the right to information about their health care - including information about safe, legal abortion.
Politicians have no role in picking and choosing among qualified providers. Title X is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to providing low-income and young patients with access to essential family planning and preventive health services. Under this “gag rule,” more than 40% of Title X patients are at risk of losing access this critical care. Restricting access to care and information will increase rates of unplanned pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and undiagnosed medical conditions. Thanks to programs like Title X, our nation has achieved a 30-year low in unintended pregnancy. Teen pregnancy rates are the lowest in recorded history. These are TREMENDOUS achievements, and we need to keep fighting for more progress like this. We can’t afford to move backwards. The administration should advance policies that continue this positive trend, not undermine it.
I stand with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the American College of Physicians and many more professional medical organizations who demand that we put patients first and withdraw this “gag rule” without delay. This “gag rule” jeopardizes our patient-provider relationship and could prevent millions of people from getting the care they need. Instead of preventing access to medical information, policymakers should be focused on increasing access to the resources that Title X recipients need to lead healthy and autonomous lives.
Please join me in submitting a comment to oppose the Title X gag rule through this link. Comments close July 31.
Guest Post by Wendy Baird, Independence, Mo.
One of my biggest pet peeves is that it is near impossible to find information about candidates for local office. I know. Every year, I try to be an educated voter. And every year it is an ordeal, especially for the primaries when candidates are from the same party and therefore have many of the same positions on issues. It just shouldn’t be this hard.
I live in the 21st District in Missouri, which has three democrats running in the House of Representatives primary on Aug. 7. No republicans filed to run. The deadline to register to vote in the primary is July 11. You can register at https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/govotemissouri/register.
The three candidates running in the 21st district are:
Dan O’Neill, www.danoformo.com
Holmes Osborne, www.osborneformissouri.com
Robert Sauls, https://robertsauls.com
I reached out to all of them to ask them a few questions:
All three replied back to me within 24 hours, which is, frankly, amazing. They all agreed I could share their answers publicly, which I hope makes the process of deciding who to support in August a little easier for others.
Their full responses, only edited for formatting, are below:
Thanks so much for your interest!
Hi Wendy. I looked you up on Facebook and saw that you were protesting outside of Senator Blunt’s office. Very good.
I saw you on the Facebook page of [name redacted]. He is a friend of mine.
I’ve run for state representative twice in Lafayette County. I did not win.
Of the three candidates, I’m probably the most liberal.
We’ve picked up endorsements from several prochoice groups.
Also, we are a Moms’ Demand Action Common Gunsense candidate. We are looking for common sense ways to reduce gun violence.
The other two candidates back labor, as do I.
If I get elected, I plan on registering thousands of people in Independence whom I believe will vote our way!!!
Feel free to call me.
[phone number redacted]
When I asked if I could share this email, Osborne replied:
We spoke to Indivisible KC several months ago. Also add that we are for single payer and an increase in the minimum wage.
I am the most experienced and the most qualified. A little bit of information about me: I was born and raised in Independence, Missouri. I have lived here for approximately 30 years. I grew up in a one bedroom house along with my mom and sister in Eastern Jackson County. My mom taught me the value of hard work. She worked tirelessly to put food on the table. She taught me to use my voice to speak up for those who did not have one. It is ultimately the reason I became an attorney.
I made good grades in high school but I couldn't afford college, so I began my college career at the Metropolitan Community College. I waited tables and worked at the John Deere factory in Kansas City, Missouri. I earned grants, scholarships, and good enough grades to get into William Jewell College. It was through hard work and dedication that I became the first person on either side of my family to graduate from college. After college I went to law school and graduated with a law degree.
I am a prosecuting attorney. In addition to being a prosecutor, I am also a captain and Assistant Staff Judge Advocate in the United States Air Force Reserves. I have been a previous public defender, and an attorney who has handled abuse and neglect based on behalf of the state of Missouri.
Many people don't like lawyers. I understand why people are frustrated with lawyers, but Missouri has never had fewer lawyers as law makers than they do right now. Less than 8% of law makers are lawyers in the Missouri General Assembly. That matters because it costs the state millions of dollars a year. When law is vague, or unconstitutional, or just wrong, it has to be litigated, and much of this can be avoided if lawyers are more involved with creating law.
I will give you an example. Currently it is a class D felony (up to 7 years in prison) to posses drugs. It is a class E felony (up to 4 years in prison) to posses guns and drugs, which means a defendant can get 7 years for possessing heroin and only 4 years for possessing heroin and an AK-47. That is ridiculous. This matters because courts have no choice but to treat the higher level felony as a lesser included under the Blockburger test. This means that I have to dismiss the count that gives the higher range of punishment if I win both counts at trial. This can be easily fixed with additional language in the statute, but more importantly it would be avoided if more lawyers were involved in making law.
In the only union member in this race. I'm the only lawyer in this race, and I personally understand the struggles that many of my constituents have had to face. I grew up poor. I worked my tail off to get here and I have dedicated my life to public service. I could make twice as much in the private sector but I don't because I believe in working for you.
On the day I filed for office, I spoke with many state legislators. I made it a point to speak with democrats, but I also made it a point to speak with some republicans as well. Bill Kidd is a neighboring representative and when I came to his office he asked me why I thought to reach out to him. I told him for two reasons: 1.) My grandparents are in your district and even though they can't vote for me, they will have my sign in their yard, and perhaps more importantly 2.) I told him that I know you are a union supporter. My father was UAW, my grandfather was UAW, and I am a member of Local 42. I told him that while I know we will have our differences, I think it is important to establish a dialogue and be able to come together on like minded issues.
I don't simply want to be a rubber stamp. I want to be able to talk with moderate conservatives to try and get things done. My job, education, profession, and life experiences best suits me for this role.
I am a prosecuting attorney and have been one for approximately 6-1/2 years. I was a public defender for approximately 3-1/2 years. I have prosecuted and defended thousands of cases. When I was a public defender I had to work with prosecutors, when I've been a prosecutor I've had to work with defense counsel and public defenders. The point I am trying to relay is that working with opposition is what I do every single day. I have had discussions with PDs (public defenders) who have told me that even though we may not always agree, they appreciate working with me. They like working with me because I am fair, I play above the board, and I will always listen. The same could be said of me when I was a PD.
You've asked about my strategy in working with opposition. This is not a new concept for me. I have been doing this every day for the past decade. I believe the first component to this is to treat each other with respect. In life we would all go further if we would focus on our similarities rather than our differences. Quite frankly I believe that many of the racial problems of today could presumably be solved if we would look at our similarities rather than our differences.
It should not be any different with politics. The staunch conservative across the aisle has a daughter in grade school. As a father I believe we likely have the same concerns. Is my child going to get a good education, will my child be safe at school, will my child be subject to bullying, etc.? It's about using those similarities and working toward a common goal. Understanding that we may not always agree, but recognizing that at the end of the day we are all human, and that many of the things we want out of life coincide with one another. Recognizing that no matter what, everyone gets a baseline level of respect. I have had to prosecute people who have committed some very vile and disgusting crimes, but I've always treated them with respect. I've always ensured fairness in my dealings, and I've never resorted to dirty unethical tactics and foul play.