The 5 Q's: Missouri's 7th Congressional District candidates (Question 4)

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Jul. 15—In this feature, we put five questions before Missouri's 7th Congressional District candidates. Twelve candidates are vying for the seat held by Billy Long, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Roy Blunt.

Candidates are Republicans Jay Wasson, Eric Burlison, Audrey Richards, Camille Lombardi-Olive, Sam Alexander, Alex Bryant, Paul Walker and Mike Moon; Democrats John M. Woodman, Kristen Radaker-Sheafer and Bryce F. Lockwood; and Libertarian Kevin Craig. Wasson, Burlison and Bryant did not return multiple requests for comment.

The candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.

What are your thoughts on abortion? Why do you support or oppose Roe v. Wade, and what steps would you like Congress to take next?

Richards: I don't think Congress should do anything; it is now a state issue. Furthermore, Democrats have had 50 years to codify Roe v. Wade into law and chose not to. Why? Because it is their No. 1 fundraising issue. This is what Democrats do. They elevate the voices of vulnerable people whose stories can help their fundraising efforts. Then they get elected and never follow through on the promises they made to those people. Before you look to Republicans for making this change, ask the Democrats why they sat on their heels for five decades.

Lombardi-Olive: I am pro-life. When I was 37 years old, I became pregnant with my third child after a miscarriage and six years of infertility and surgeries. My former husband and I had given up hope of having a child when I became pregnant. Since I was high risk, carrying to term had risks. I chose a female OB-GYN who was also a liberal, thinking she would be my best advocate. However, when my AFP test came back positive, meaning my child may have had Down syndrome or another abnormality, she insisted I have an amniocentesis to confirm. I declined based on the risk of scarring, and decided that if my child was born with a challenge, that I would rise up to it and do my best to stimulate and nurture their development. She did not want to deliver what she assumed was a defective baby and even encouraged abortion.

I changed doctors, and my son was born with an 8 on his Apgar test. He sang before he started speaking, and we didn't learn that he had different challenges until he entered kindergarten. My son is autistic. He also tested college level in math and English when he was 9 years old. He has a hard time making friends, holding on to relationships, living on his own, keeping jobs and picking friends who do not take advantage of him. He is also a caring and compassionate human being whose faith in God and Jesus Christ have gotten him through tough times. He sends money to a Christian family in Africa, though he can barely afford his own bills. They gave their youngest child my son's middle name, Edward, as a special honor for helping them. God gave us children with challenges to teach us patience, compassion and how to become better human beings. All human life matters, unborn and born, because we never know what that life will do to make the world a better place for everyone. Abortion takes that all away. My son's life matters; all life does. Jeremiah 1:5.

Alexander: I am a physician, and my duty is to protect and help all life to heal. The Supreme Court has returned the abortion issue to the states where it can now be determined by the residents of those states what human life policies should be.

Walker: I believe in protecting unborn life. There was always something wrong with Roe v Wade. The Supreme Court was trying to make the Constitution say something that it really didn't say. I think it is correct to send the issue back to the states to decide their policy. I believe abortion should be extremely rare.

Moon: The 1973 Supreme Court decided that women had the right to end the life of a developing human for any reason. Many, if not most, viewed this decision as the law of the land. Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes only the Congress to make law. Since the courts cannot make law, the 1973 decision should have been ignored by several states. The issue of deciding for or against abortion belongs to the states. Congress, or the federal government, has no say in the matter.

Woodman: I spent more than two years just gaining an understanding of this one issue alone. As a result, I've crafted a game-changing, breakthrough solution. If you're pro-choice, my solution doesn't just massively protect women's reproductive rights. It actively expands the availability and affordability of abortion services. If you're pro-life, my solution is measurably more than five times as pro-life as the "pro-life" politics we've all been sold. That's because we could only ever reduce abortion by about 10% by force, through trying to make it illegal and unavailable. My approach is: Let's make it unnecessary. Almost every abortion begins with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy — so let's reduce those. Doing so is proven to allow us to slash our abortion rate by at least 50%. We could aim for the lowest abortion rate on Earth. But we can only ever do so through service, not by trying to dominate women and their choices.

Here are a few points, out of 19: When people can afford to have families, they have families. When they can't, many have abortions. We know this for certain. Bringing back the American dream will reduce our abortion rate. We must have strong support for families. Sex education that actually works. Widespread availability of effective contraception. Every moment we spend trying to ban abortion is a wasted opportunity to actually reduce it through service. As with guns, we can keep fighting — or solve the problem, with both sides getting almost everything we want.

Radaker-Sheafer: The overturning of Roe v. Wade is unlikely to have the effect desired by the pro-life movement. Conservative, pro-life commentator David French estimates that at best, ending the protections of Roe would decrease abortions by 10%. I have outlined steps I would take to reduce abortions while still maintaining the right for one to choose when and if to have children. Affordable access to health care professionals and birth control, such as IUDs and emergency contraceptives for everyone, including in underserved rural areas. Improving health outcomes and reducing maternal mortality rates. Extend the expanded family tax credit that kept 3.7 million children out of poverty in July-December of 2021 and reached more than 61 million children in the U.S. Comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education in schools. Access to affordable, quality mental health care and proven addiction treatment for all. Guaranteed paid parental leave. Affordable child care for all families. Providing support and increasing resources for women seeking to leave abusive relationships and dangerous living arrangements. Increasing penalties for rape and sexual assault while making reporting safer and easier for victims.

Lockwood: Supreme Court got Roe v. Wade right. Let's leave it alone. Do you not see the irony: "By God, you're not gonna tell me I hafta get a shot!" "You got pregnant last night! That's a human being! You gotta take it to full term!" (No, it's not, it's a fertilized egg.) Women should have rights over the health care of their own bodies. At least four justices misled the Senate on their position concerning stare decisis (settled law) during confirmation hearings.

Craig: I would continue the efforts of Congressman Ron Paul to pass legislation which recognizes the legal personhood of the unborn. Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision from a constitutional perspective. Even supporters of abortion have admitted this. The Constitution gives the federal government no authority over state and local laws against murder. I personally oppose capital punishment for all purposes, but as a member of Congress, I have no say in state legislatures. A few moments of sexual gratification do not outweigh 80 years of new life.

Question 5 will run Saturday.