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Abortion Rights Supporters Rally for Access to Contraception

More than 40 people from Southwest Missouri came to Jefferson City Monday to rally for legislation that promotes birth control, emergency contraception and sex education. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports on how religious views played into the rally.

About 350 people rallied as part of the Lobby for Women's Health event in the capitol rotunda. Abortion rights supporters from all over the state came together to push the issue of preventing surgical abortions by providing easy access to contraception.

Some people at the rally held signs with messages like "abortion is a moral choice" "clergy for choice" and "young spiritual and pro-choice."

Judith Dillon had a sign.

It wasn't just signs that carried religious messages.

One of the speakers at the rally was Rabbi Annie Belford of Congregation Shaare Emeth in St Louis, a reform congregation.

The group of 43 people who came to the rally from Springfield got a send-off before they headed to the capitol by Roger Ray, senior pastor of National Avenue Christian Church.

Among the group was Doris Ewing, chair of the social justice committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Springfield.

One of the bills that Doris Ewing and others who attended the rally are lobbying against has to do with sex education.

Republican Representative Cynthia Davis, who owns a Christian bookstore is sponsoring a bill that would prevent anyone who works for groups like Planned Parenthood from providing sex ed in public schools.

Those participating in the Lobby for Women's Health event oppose Davis' bill because they say it erodes the role that public schools play in preventing teen pregnancy.

But Davis has a different view.

Planned Parenthood officials say they don't have any agenda when they go into public schools. They say their sex education instructors are trained to talk about abstinence and contraception as well as consequences of choices teens make.

As abortion rights supporters made their way through the capitol for their lobby day, they wore buttons and stickers with the message "responsibility equals prevention."

But when it comes to access to contraception, Davis says that whether it's teens or adults, choosing contraception, not abstinence is irresponsible.

Davis' sex education bill has gained committee support and is slated for two and half hours of debate on the House floor.

Abortion rights supporters say this bill is just one of several they're watching and working to defeat as part of their ongoing lobbying efforts.

They ended their lobby day Tuesday with remarks from various clergy who support access to contraception and abortion rights.