Where The Real Action Is...

For all the debate in Washington, the battle over abortion is actually in the states, which are imposing more limits than ever. MISSOURI is a case study

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PRO-ROE: Advocates in St. Louis mark the 33rd anniversary of the decision

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Both sides might look to college dropout Jessica Schutte, 23, to make their point. When Schutte got pregnant in the fall of 2004, her family members urged her to have an abortion, but she resisted, figuring it wasn't her baby's fault that she hadn't used birth control. Things didn't work out with her boyfriend, so he started making calls to find her a place to live and came upon Our Lady's Inn, a St. Louis maternity home. Schutte was 8 1/2 months along and terrified when she moved in, figuring that she had landed in what amounted to a homeless shelter. But the inn gave her classes in child development and taught her how to feed a baby, when to get him vaccinated, even how to clean a house. It also taught her about safe sex. "I learned how to be a good parent, and I became confident that I could do that," she says.

But she still can't do it alone. Earlier this month, she got a $7-an-hour cashier job at a Family Dollar store; about $30 of her $200-a-week paycheck goes to child care for her son Hayden, 8 months old. She still lives in an apartment subsidized and furnished by Our Lady's Inn. Pointing to her spartan surroundings, she notes, "All the furniture in this apartment is theirs. All of it: the TV, the bed, the couch, the crib, the coffee table, dishes--everything I need."

Schutte talks of paying off her $2,500 student debt, getting state grants to go back to nursing school and eventually moving back to her hometown, Cedar Hill. All those things are going to take more than a few donations from a do-gooder group. But just like Lisa, Jessica Schutte had a choice when it came to having an abortion. And she decided, no matter how hard it gets, she wants to watch that choice grow up.


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