Candidate explains views on abortion

Ronna Ford

Editor's note: The following letter to the editor was written by Ronna Ford, the Democratic candidate for the 129th district for the Missouri House of Representatives. Ford wrote this letter last week but accidentally sent it to the wrong email address. Had the Laclede Record received the email, we would have printed it. Because we did run a letter that was pro-Republican and anti-Democrat, I am posting this letter online for people to read. I will also be posting the pro-Republican letter online as well.

Ford is facing off against Republican incumbent Rep. Jeff Knight on Tuesday.


To the editor:


For the past year, I've been going door-to-door in Laclede and Dallas counties. In the past few weeks, an exceptional number of people have asked me to clarify my views on abortion. It’s much easier to address it in print than on the fly because the issue is complex and it should be. Women don’t have babies in the abstract. They bear them in a complicated and imperfect world. I find it so hard to boil my views down to some quick party-aligned label. My opponent likes to claim that he's "pro life." Well what does that really mean?


To me, being "pro life" is about caring for the lives of women and children and babies. Not in the rhetorical sense, but in the sense that there are real, practical things we can do to improve peoples' lives. When we improve access to affordable housing, the abortion rate falls. When poor women have access to safe and reliable transportation, the abortion rate falls. When poor women have good-quality health insurance and affordable childcare, the abortion rate falls. When we fully fund sex ed, the abortion rate falls. When contraceptives are free and easy to get, the abortion rate falls. 


Here's what doesn't work: making abortion illegal without any thought to the needs of struggling women. We've tried that before. We know how that movie ends. During the 1860s, a flurry of states criminalized abortion. Over the course of that decade, dozens of anti-abortion laws were put on the books, but historians say the demand for abortion didn't even dip. It did have a big effect, though. Abortion was  illegal in the U.S. for more than century, from the 1860s to 1973. During that period, scores of women served time in jail. Many went to the morgue. Nearly half of all maternal deaths in New York in 1967 were from illegal abortions. Doesn't sound very pro-life to me.


Four years ago, a health research team interviewed hundreds of women who had had abortions. What they found was this: the vast majority of them were 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Almost all of them had a least one child already. Almost universally, they told the interviewers that poverty was the driving force behind their decision to seek an abortion. Making something illegal doesn't make it go away. If we really want to change things, then we need to make life better for women. It's not the easy answer, but it's the only thing that's going to actually work. 


Thank you printing this statement. I hope to see everybody out on Tuesday! 


Ronna Ford


The Laclede County Record

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