What would you do if your child’s life was attacked?


By Stacey Newman

What would you do if your child’s life was threatened?  If your child required specific healthcare in order to thrive, to survive?

For most parents, the question is absurd.  

Of course, we would go to the end of the earth, exhaust our capabilities and resources, to find and provide the best of care with every ounce and breath of our being.  It is what we would instinctively do, out of endless love and complete devotion.  It is what responsible caring parents do and what our faith teaches we must do, a no-brainer of a question.

Now imagine what you would do if your state government was not only attacking and dismissing your child’s right to be but attempting to criminalize your physicians at a leading national medical research institute for providing lifesaving medical care for your child.

You read that correctly.  

Imagine the state attempting to prohibit the very care your child requires.

It sounds like a nightmarish episode of the “Twilight Zone,” unthinkable in a world that is supposed to run on logic, common sense and science.

But for several hundred families in Missouri, these attacks have been a recent disturbing reality as state legislation threatening their children increase in intensity and number.  

Never mind that many of these parents with their children consistently spend hours and hours, year after year, missing work and school, testifying in Jefferson City against dangerous bills, some of which would penalize themselves for being conscientious parents.  Never mind that these parents have faced numerous personal threats at their homes, worry when and how they need to quickly move out of state, and stay awake at night in fear the state will eventually come take away their children.  Never mind that these parents are our friends, community and religious leaders we love and cherish, including Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council,  and Rabbis Daniel and Karen Bogard of Central Reform Congregation. 

It is not lost on us that bill sponsors who are enthusiastically restricting transgender health care for minors categorize their attempts as “protecting children from abuse.”

They include State Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, who filed SB49, “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (the SAFE Act), which recently passed out of committee and is advancing towards full Senate debate. 

Moon, who is not a trained medical professional, wants to ban doctors from providing minors with gender-affirming care or even referring them to other doctors for those services.  A cattle rancher, Moon is the same legislator I served and argued within the Missouri House, who often compared abortion to the Holocaust, filed a bill that would outlaw contraception and beheaded a chicken on camera to call attention to his embryo as a person bill.  

When asked about accredited national medical experts such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics who definitively recommend access to gender-affirming care for children, Moon told the New York Times, “Maybe the doctors are wrong”.

Instead of taking up his concerns with the medical community, he replied, “That could take 20 years.”

Moon isn’t alone in his targeted vengeance. 

His side of the aisle has filed the most anti-LGBTQ bills of any state this year, a record of 31 to date, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.  Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced he is investigating the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the only clinic in the entire state that provides critical standards-based mental and physical care for transgender youth. Missouri’s Department of Social Services and the Division of Professional Registration along with U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, are also launching their own investigations.

It sounds eerily reminiscent of the conservative backlash against reproductive healthcare, waged by Missouri’s GOP-controlled legislature for years, culminating in our state’s abortion ban signed into law just minutes after the fall of Roe v. Wade last June.  As Moon indicates, it doesn’t matter who might be affected or that many of these bills contradict established medical expertise  (on which he depends for his own care), it’s about much more.

It’s a bigoted agenda sweeping the nation designed to fire up hate and interject intrusive conservative government again into private family medical decisions.  These are the same elected officials who advocate for additional “parental rights” except when it can be used to fire up their political base of support through fear and ignorance.

Three people in Missouri can stop this dangerous fury: Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Town and Country, Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, and Governor Mike Parson.

Ask yourself.  What would you do if your child’s life was at risk? 

Then do it now.