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Opinion: An open letter to St. Louis suburban moms from Missouri GOP

Dear Suburban Moms,

Many of you may have read a scathing article written by St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Tony Messenger last week addressing suburban moms. The article paints the story of a fictional young woman who was raped on her university’s campus, becomes pregnant, drops out of school, then develops an opioid addiction. All of these events in her life supposedly occurred at the hands of Republicans this legislative session. Messenger’s unorthodox portrayal as the Missouri Republican Party’s spokesperson was quite unusual, misleading readers with half-truths. The Missouri GOP invites all moms to read our side of the issue per Messenger’s commentary. 

Contrary to his characterization of suburban moms, we believe that women are strong, not weak. The suburban women we know can handle anything that comes their way. One thing we can agree on is this, suburban moms are important; Messenger’s story was not only misleading in facts, we feel it was an insult to all women. 

Congresswoman Ann Wagner, a suburban mom, recently launched a forward-thinking Suburban Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives prioritizing issues affecting American families each day throughout the United States, such as “paid family leave, rising cost of childcare, transportation needs, educational opportunities, and accessible and affordable healthcare.” Women who empower women through proactive legislative solutions will work to ensure a greater quality of life that they and their families deserve.

The Missouri Republican Party appreciates the recognition that the lowering of taxes from the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act beneficially decreased taxes for 51 percent of taxpayers. Republicans worked tirelessly to lower them and in Missouri incomes rose five percent in the last year. The University of Missouri Board of Curators did in fact vote to raise tuition by five percent, as was previously reported by Messenger, but the raise was to account for inflation, educational upgrades and program expansions.    

Messenger misstated that “Missouri is among the lowest-funded higher education systems in the country,” we argue its high-quality affordability. 

According to the UM Board of Curators, “Tuition increases at the University of Missouri-Columbia over the last 10 years are the lowest in the nation compared to the 49 other flagship universities,” and “48% of MU undergraduate students graduated with no debt; The national average is 30%… the four UM System universities have reduced the cost per degree by 40% over the past 18 years while the number of degrees awarded has risen by 65% during the same period.” 

Title IX reform on the other hand did fall short of passage, however can we really blame us parents who want to protect both our son and daughter? The 1972 Education Amendments constructively protect against discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded institutions. Further, provisions for justice could have provided protection against race discrimination and gender bias. 

Here in the State of Missouri we hold no selective prejudice against unborn children on the basis of sex, race or diagnosis for Down Syndrome. Missouri Stands For The Unborn Act became law on May 24th, protecting against discriminatory actions and protects a woman’s safety in a medical emergency. Here’s a serious question — should the death penalty be a fix because of how one was conceived? All life is precious to us when we stand up for justice against biological prejudice.

Republicans also during this past session acted to expunge criminal records of minors who are victims of sex trafficking. In addition, Congresswoman Ann Wagner’s bill was also signed into law last year by President Trump allowing states and victims to go after sex traffickers online. 

Implementation of these safeguards are to ensure your daughters safety by guaranteeing paths to justice – to fight for victims and effectively track these predators to end modern day slavery. Elected officials like Wagner and State Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman, who sponsored the latest sex trafficking bill, are on the forefront of defending our family’s future.

Moreover, despite Missouri not having a statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, 84 percent of the state’s population already has a database run by St. Louis County that covers 72 jurisdictions. Although we continue to push for PDMP, this fact was missed in the analysis by the columnist. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page even agreed that, “Our PDMP is first-class, as any in the country.” 

The Missouri GOP strives for transparency across all roads of public affairs, yet we found Messenger at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch including himself as an authority reference, along with several colleagues as credible secondary sources on multiple issues, however as a spokesperson that is kind of a no-no. 

Our state’s priority is to its people. We are supporters of women, opportunities and family. That’s what the GOP is about.

Your friends and neighbors working for you, 

Missouri Republican Party