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As I said in church, I’m not going to wade into the pro-life/pro-choice debate. What I will wade into, is what being pro-life means. I believe that if you are going to declare yourself to be pro-life, then it is important to be consistent, to be pro-life for all people. Missouri has a long way to go if it wants to declare itself pro-life with any integrity, as evidenced by our relative position on so many metrics. Did you know that Missouri ranks 26th of 50 states for infant mortality?1 In 2019, 443 infants died before their first birthday. Missouri ranks 42nd out of 50 states for maternal mortality.2 In 2018, the United States as a whole had the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country.3 We rank 37th out of 50 in child welfare4 – these are basic systems such as housing, transportation and education that most of us take for granted, but are necessary to ensure that all children have the chance to thrive. Chillingly, in 2020, the number one cause of death for children was firearms.5 A three-year-old child shot and killed a one-year-old with his father’s loaded weapon. The father was arrested as a felon who shouldn’t have had a firearm in the first place. A 19-year-old with a history of mental illness bought a gun and was only thwarted because he told a co-worker his plans. And it was only Tuesday. And lastly, is the fact that Missouri is 41st out of 50 in the access and availability of preschool education for its children.6 Those years before kindergarten are critical years for social and cognitive development and success in life depends on an early start. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” As we consider what we can do, think about it. Call a preschool and ask what they need - do they have a scholarship fund? Call the Deaconess Foundation – their mission, “Deaconess envisions a community that values the health and well-being of all children and give priority attention to the most vulnerable.” Or our own Unleashing Potential (formerly Caroline Mission). As of Friday we are in a new era – one that demands we act for our next generation. May we hear the word and keep it. Amen. Pastor Vicki

1 Americashealth.org; accessed 6/29/2022 2 health.mo.gov; accessed 6/29/2022 3 Commonwealthfund.org; accessed 6/29/2022 4 United Health Foundation; accessed 6/29/2022 5 everystat.org; accessed 6/29/2022 nieer.org (National Institute for Early Child Research); accessed 6/29/2022

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