Guest Commentary

Greitens’ cheap political games cost our families

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens ignored our values by calling a special session to further restrict women’s access to basic reproductive health care and abortion.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens ignored our values by calling a special session to further restrict women’s access to basic reproductive health care and abortion.

If you look up “political opportunist” in the dictionary, you may just find a picture of Gov. Eric Greitens.

Just six months into his first term, Greitens seems to have found limitless ways to let hardworking Missouri women and families down. In fact, while the challenges that Missouri families face keep mounting, Greitens seems more interested in hanging out with the Koch brothers, cozying up to the political elite and appeasing fringe parts of his base than in listening to the needs of his constituents.

And the worst part: Greitens’ cheap political games are literally costing Missouri families their hard-earned money.

Rather than using his position to expand health care or rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, Greitens shamelessly robbed taxpayers of about $150,000 to finance two special legislative sessions, one to make it harder for women to access abortions.

Despite the consensus among the 7 in 10 Americans who agree that abortion access should remain safe and legal, Greitens ignored our values by calling a costly and extensive special session with the sole purpose of further restricting women’s access to basic reproductive health care and abortion.

Greitens rejected the calls of countless women and families across the state and refused to take the advice of medical professionals, faith leaders and even his own colleagues in the legislature who told him this was a detrimental move for women and families. Greitens even took to Facebook to publicly flaunt his extreme agenda. But even when hundreds of women commented publicly to tell Greitens to stay out of the private health care decisions that should remain between a woman and her doctor, he turned a deaf ear.

And after seven long weeks, Greitens carried out his cruel mission by signing a bill that would victimize women lowest on the economic totem pole even further. The oppressive bill will place unnecessary restrictions on the state’s only remaining abortion provider, funnel taxpayer money to deceptive crisis pregnancy centers that shame women who seek abortion care, and impose restrictive and medically unnecessary laws on Missouri women.

During the course of this costly, extensive and troubling session, Greitens wasn’t even in Missouri. In fact, he has a long history of not showing up for Missourians. Literally. Greitens has gone on five trips to Washington, has hung out with Donald Trump, has met with over 700 new donors at private D.C. events and spent his time palling around with political elites in Aspen, Colo. And just days after his special session that he claims was to “protect women,” he bailed on Missouri women yet again, skipping out on a National Urban League “Women of Power” event in St. Louis that he was scheduled to address.

But despite the soul-crushing special session we endured, and although the toughest challenges lie ahead, NARAL and our allies have never lost our drive. From Day 1 we have held Greitens and his allies in the legislature accountable for their out-of-touch ideology. And our work is nowhere near finished.

In the aftermath of this destructive special session, and as we look toward 2018, this must be a lesson for all of us. As we face some of the most severe restrictions on women’s access to health care in the country, holding our elected officials to the highest standards and electing champions to fight for the reproductive rights and freedoms of all of us is a top priority that we cannot compromise on.

The basic rights of women and families are not bargaining tools, and we won’t let up on this fight until we elect representatives who put aside their own political calculus and champion Missouri values.

Alison Dreith is executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.