Yesterday I testified against Senate Bill 408 at the Missouri State Capital in Jefferson City, MO. SB 408 is one of the heartbeat ban bills that you might be hearing a lot about in the news lately, which prohibits an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The summary of the bill is: "Requires the use of a fetal heartbeat detection test prior to an abortion and prohibits an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected". It also adds larger penalties to doctors that fail to perform a fetal heartbeat test at most 96 hours before the abortion.
You can read the bill summary and find links to the full bill here. I'm going to talk more about it and what heartbeat ban bills do, the assumptions they're based on and so on on my next blog, but today I'm going to focus on the good parts of the experience (and there's no real way I can say anything positive about a bill like this - it's incredibly dangerous and uncompromising).
This was my first time personally testifying against a bill, and I found it to be a very exciting and tiring process. I went with M'Evie Mead, the Director of Policy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood of MIssouri. I have been meeting with people like M'Evie and Alison Dreith (Executive Director at NARAL Pro Choice Missouri) and some State Representatives to learn how I can expand my ability to help and continue moving forward with advocacy, and their advice and guidance has been invaluable. Alison was at the hearing too, as well as Rachel Goldberg, whose story I have shared here, and whom I was ecstatic to meet in person. Rachel perhaps more than any other person has helped guide me through the testimonial portion of advocacy, and has kept me looped in on opportunities to do so in Missouri.
After sharing my testimony, which largely was a very positive and empowering (and of course very sad) experience, I was able to meet Representative Bruce Franks Jr., whom Jim met while he was in DC, Representative Stacey Newman and numerous other individuals that I have been eager to meet for some time.
It was incredibly invigorating and also exhausting to be at Jefferson City. Invigorating in that it's very rewarding to have Senators, even those that might oppose your point of view, be touched by your story and thank you for coming to share it. And also exciting and inspiring to meet others that offer help and guidance and even simply share their time and expertise with you, like M'Evie, Alison and Rachel. I'm so new to this that I felt in many ways I enrolled in a masters class when I'm still only ready for an undergraduate course! But it makes for a long day full of ideas, excitement, new and old faces and seeing a lot of uphill battles, so by the time I got to bed last night, I was more than ready.
More in the next blog about my experience in Jefferson City.