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Opinion: Protecting Life

“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” –Thomas Jefferson to Maryland Republicans, 1809.

A common theme from America’s inception is the importance of a government that will protect life and take steps at every stage to create an environment for Americans to live free and prosperous lives. Most Missourians would easily recognize the unalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” which serve as the foundation for our republic.

We believe Missouri’s pre-born children are entitled to that protection of life too, regardless of the circumstances of their conception, and since taking office, I have striven to protect them. Missouri led the country to enact and sustain pro-life legislation in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to return the regulation of abortion to states, and I am grateful to have earned the sole endorsement for Governor from Missouri Right to Life.

But while we have made progress, there is still much work to be done to promote life in Missouri.

First, we must ensure Missouri remains a leader in protecting life. There are currently efforts to enshrine in the Missouri constitution abortion on demand until the very instant before birth, removing parental consent, and opening the door for taxpayer funding of abortions. While abortion rights activists have been successful in other states by misleading with regard to the scope and intent of ballot proposals, my office is committed to protecting voters from misinformation. Any initiative put before voters will be factual and transparent and the professionals in the Secretary of State’s office will continue to provide guidance that gives voters the most accurate election information.

Second, we must take steps to create an environment in which women and children, some of whom are born into very tough circumstances, are able to pursue fulfilling lives. This means supporting mothers through every step of pregnancy, assuring them they are not alone. Missouri has more than 70 pregnancy resource centers across the state, which come alongside young mothers to offer healthy pregnancy and life skills classes, counseling services, and support to mothers and children on average for the first two years of a baby’s life. Missouri currently supports these organizations through the Pregnancy Resource Center Tax Credit program, which allows donors to qualified nonprofits to claim tax credits. As governor, I will prioritize the funding incentives for these crisis centers that support women and children.

We also need to strengthen Missouri’s foster care system, which oversees the care of more than 10,000 children. The best way to reduce the number of children in foster care is to focus on preventative services that help families work through difficult situations before they escalate into the necessity for foster care services. When these preventative measures fail, we must prioritize the good of the child and focus on finding forever homes outside of the state system. Other areas ripe for improvement are our hotline and case management systems – we must ensure concerned Missourians get valid responses and appropriate follow-up when they report child abuse. We can also do a better job tracking money the state spends to support children in the foster care system, ensuring the funds are going to those actually caring for our foster children.

Missouri is full of generous-hearted individuals who serve as foster parents, counselors and volunteers to support our most vulnerable citizens. As Governor, Jay will ensure the state partners with them to ensure all Missouri women and children have an opportunity for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” at every age and in every circumstance