ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Last night, NARAL Pro-Choice America gathered leaders, partners, and reproductive freedom allies at their annual Power of Roe event, which celebrated a year of defending, and even expanding, reproductive freedom. At the event, NARAL proudly presented Missouri State Representative Cora Faith Walker with the Rising Star Award. NARAL also honored U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
“We’re incredibly proud of Rep. Walker for representing Missouri so well — last night in Washington D.C. and every day in the state legislature,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Alison Dreith. “She continues to fight for women and families every single day, getting real work done in a state that doesn’t make fighting for reproductive freedom easy. Sometimes the hardest work is done on a state level and Rep. Walker has proved she’s ready to protect and defend all women in Missouri.”
In Rep. Walker’s speech, she thanked NARAL Pro-Choice America for the award and highlighted why advocates must continue to fight. “I know that the infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates in my state rival that of developing countries, and I know that the disparities of those rates for women and children of color is even worse,” said Cora Faith Walker. “I know that in some zip codes in my district, black mothers and black babies die at disproportionately higher rates than white women—in some cases 3-4 times as high, even when controlling for income and education. I know that access to reproductive health is fundamentally a matter of justice and equity, and I’ll keep fighting for our freedoms.”
Rep. Walker is the ranking member of the House Children and Families Committee, where most bills that would further restrict access to abortion are heard. In 2017, Rep. Walker received a 100% score on NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri’s Legislative Scorecard. Additionally, she canvassed with NARAL Missouri’s team last summer in an effort to speak out against crisis pregnancy centers in the state and spoke out against Gov. Greitens’ abortion special session at the People’s Special Session. Her work continues this year with a bill to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the state and a co-sponsored bill to expand MO HealthNet benefits for postpartum women.
“This is a time in our nation’s history unlike any other. People—many who recognize they’ve been on the sidelines for too long—are stepping forward and rising up in new, bold ways to advance the values central to helping women and families prosper,” said Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Because of that, change for women is happening in boardrooms, the halls of Congress, workplaces, and kitchen tables across America. That’s why we’re so proud to celebrate our work defending reproductive rights, the 2018 candidates who will push progress in districts nationwide, and two warriors who are leading the way for women and families: Kirsten Gillibrand and Cora Faith Walker.
“We need champions in 2018 to continue representing our shared values in order to advance the great strides we’ve made. We have our work cut out for us—to realize the promises enshrined in Roe v. Wade and to take on fights that lay ahead. Cora, Kirsten, and our 2018 candidates give me hope that our progress is just beginning.”
In 2016, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri backed pro-choice candidates who share our values of freedom and equality, and will fight for reproductive rights. With our basic rights facing unprecedented attacks by anti-choice extremists like President Trump and Governor Greitens, NARAL Missouri will support champions like Cora Faith Walker in 2018 who will never compromise our most fundamental values, and will defend women and families in Missouri.