News Violence

Missouri Republican Says God Blesses Raped Women With Pregnancy

Jodi Jacobson

A Missouri Republican who came to the defense of Representative Todd Akin told the The New York Times last week that, while "abortion is never an option.... If God has chosen to bless this person [the rape victim] with a life, you don’t kill it."

A Missouri Republican who came to the defense of Representative Todd Akin told the The New York Times last week that, while “abortion is never an option…. If God has chosen to bless this person [the rape victim] with a life, you don’t kill it.”

Sharon Barnes, who according to the Missouri Examiner is a “high ranking state Republican [who] came to the defense of her conservative colleague [Akin], who she believes only “phrased it (his statement) badly.”

Apparently, very badly, since Todd Akin claimed that women who were “legitimately raped” don’t get pregnant, because their bodies “shut that thing down,” and Barnes believes God is delivering a blessing to women who have been violated by rape.

According to the Examiner, Barnes did not elaborate on her views for post-pregnancy care, or costs.

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Barnes is no stranger to politics, and has been active for years. The Examiner lists the following titles according to her Linkedin profile:

  1. President of The 2nd Congressional District Republican Women
  2. President of The Republican Women’s Club of St. Louis
  3. Vice President, Membership Committee at National Federation Of Republican Women
  4. Vice President of The Missouri Federation of Republican Women
  5. Chairman of The St. Louis City Republican Central Committee
  6. State Committeewoman, 4th Senate District at Missouri Republican Party
  7. Committeewoman, 24th Ward at Missouri Republican Party
  8. Volunteer at GOP Missouri Republican Party

Of course, once again, a politician associated with the fanatical anti-choice, anti-woman movement has no qualms about re-victimizing a woman violated by rape that she has no choices, rights, or agency.

News Politics

Donald Trump Would ‘Absolutely’ Change Republican Platform on Abortion Rights

Ally Boguhn

The release of the GOP’s platform caused controversy in 2012 for containing no official exceptions for a total ban on legal abortion across the country.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday that he would change the Republican Party’s anti-choice platform to include exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

“The Republican platform every four years has a provision that states that the right of the unborn child shall not be infringed,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said during a town hall event on Today. “And it makes no exceptions for rape, for incest, for the life of the mother. Would you want to change the Republican platform to include the exceptions that you have?”

“Yes, I would. Yes, I would. Absolutely. For the three exceptions, I would,” Trump said.

“Would you have an exception for the health of the mother?” Guthrie continued.

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“I would leave it for the life of the mother,” Trump said.

The GOP’s official 2012 platform said that the party “assert[s] the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” The party advocates for “a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

Similar language was used in both the 2004 and 2008 GOP platforms.

“We have a general plank in there that affirms our belief in the God-given right to life and that governments are instituted to protect that,” former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, then-chair of the GOP’s Platform Committee, said upon the release of the platform in 2012, according to the Washington Post. “The specifics are largely left up to the states.”

The release of the GOP’s platform caused controversy in 2012 for containing no official exceptions for a total ban on legal abortion across the country. The document was released shortly after former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s notorious comment that abortions in cases of rape were not needed because, as the one-time lawmaker said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Exceptions to unconstitutional abortion bans have again become a topic of debate as Republican presidential candidates have offered different opinions on the matter throughout the race. Though Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) say they support exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) would only support an exception for life endangerment.

Trump’s murky positions on abortion rights have caused consternation in anti-choice circles. The leading GOP candidate said in March that abortion patients should face “some sort of punishment” if legal abortion was outlawed nationwide.

News Abortion

Missouri Lawmaker Resigns Amid Questions of Impropriety

Teddy Wilson

GOP Rep. Don Gosen (R-Ballwin) issued a statement Wednesday morning that he was resigning to “focus on my family," acknowledging "personal issues."

A Missouri Republican and staunch foe of abortion rights abruptly resigned Wednesday, and is now embroiled in a scandal amid allegations that he had an extramarital affair.

Rep. Don Gosen (R-Ballwin) issued a statement Wednesday morning saying he was resigning to “focus on my family,” reported the Kansas City Star. Gosen left the capitol after issuing the statement, which was requested by House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Bluff).

Gosen’s profile was scrubbed from the Missouri legislative website. However, the Rewire database shows that the lawmaker has a long history of sponsoring anti-choice legislation, including a bill to ban the use of telemedicine for abortion care and a bill to ban abortion based on the sex of the fetus or due to diagnosed genetic abnormalities.

The Republican caucus reportedly held a mandatory meeting for all of its members Wednesday morning, disrupting hearings and other legislative activity.

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After Gosen’s resignation, Richardson issued a statement making an apparent reference to previous scandals that have enveloped the legislature over the past year. Former Republican House Speaker John Diehl (R-Town and Country) was forced to resign in May 2015 after he admitted to sending sexually explicit text messages to a capitol intern. Former Sen. Paul LeVota (D-Independence) resigned two months later due to allegations that he sexually harassed interns.

“At the beginning of this year, I said the actions of this body would not be defined by a few. I was serious then, and I am serious now,” Richardson said, reported the Kansas City Star. “That’s why when I was made aware of the situation, I asked [Gosen] to resign last night.”

A person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke to Rewire on the condition of anonymity, said there are allegations that Gosen had an extramarital affair. The person said there allegedly exists a videotape of a sexual encounter between Gosen and a woman that took place at the capitol. The video is reportedly in the possession of a media outlet. 

Rewire emails to Gosen’s personal and capitol addresses for comment were not returned by press time.

Gosen, before leaving the capitol, seemed to indirectly address allegations of sexual impropriety in a statement to the Associated Press. “There’ve been some rumors, stories floating around the capitol the last week—some true, some not true,” Gosen said. “And with those come some personal issues that I’m addressing at home—none of those related to legislative duties, legislative activities.”

Rep. Linda Black (R-Desloge) told the Kansas City Star that Gosen’s resignation involved one of her friends, but she declined to give details.

Black was elected as a Democrat to the Missouri house during the 2014 midterm election. The day after she was elected, Black switched parties because she could not “square my social and moral beliefs” with the Democratic Party.

Gosen was first elected to the House in 2010 and served as the chairman of the House Insurance Committee. He is married and has three children. 

Gosen told St. Louis Public Radio that he did not regret his time as a state lawmaker.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here very much,” Gosen said. “I think the opportunity in the Missouri House and the Missouri Senate and any role up here in Jefferson City is an amazing opportunity. We’ve got a group of great people up here from both sides of the aisle taking advantage of that opportunity to serve their constituents.”

Rep. Deb Lavender (D-Kirkwood) told Rewire that the Democratic caucus is disappointed that the incident has prevented legislative work from being done, as the Republican caucus was in a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning to address Gosen’s resignation. 

Referring to the allegations surrounding Gosen’s behavior, Lavender said, “If indeed this rumor is true, then I continue to be dismayed to work in a capitol where this behavior seems to be unchecked, and that it continues to interfere with the business of the people our state.”

Lavender said she is dismayed at the continued scandals that have often derailed Missouri’s GOP-dominated legislature. “Given our last legislative session, how would we not want to root out any further existing issues, so we can finally put these issue to rest and move forward with the work for our state?” Lavender asked.

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