Abortion Issue Could Be a Deciding Factor in 76th District Race

By Phil Sutin Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 21, 1994 | Go to article overview

Abortion Issue Could Be a Deciding Factor in 76th District Race


Phil Sutin Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Although neither candidate discusses it in campaign literature, abortion could be a factor in deciding the Democratic primary in the 76th District.

"It is not a key issue," says Michael Patrick "Mike" Begley, one of the candidates. "But some people feel it is still important in helping them decide how they will vote."

Lana Stokan is the other candidate in the race.

Begley opposes abortion. He lists Missouri Right to Life second in a list of endorsements in his brochure.

Stokan says "I'm personally pro-life, but it is a private issue." Abortion is not a matter for the government to decide, she says.

The Missouri affiliate of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League endorses Stokan. "We are very impressed with her," M'Evie Mead, executive director of the affiliate, says.

Two factors help bring abortion out of the background:

One of the candidates in the Republican primary in the district is Barbara R. O'Mara, who resigned as president of Missouri Right to Life, the state's leading anti-abortion group, to run for the seat. O'Mara says she is more than a one-issue candidate, but others say her presence raises the visibility of the abortion issue.

Abortion divides the candidates in the hotly-contested primary in the 24th state Senate District. The 76th House district is within that Senate district. State Sen. John Schneider, D-Florissant, who has held the seat for nearly 24 years, is one of the leading opponents of abortion in the Legislature. His two opponents, County Councilman John Shear and Jeanette McCrary of Florissant, favor allowing the women involved to decide whether they should have abortions.

Stokan says she can work with fellow-Democrat Schneider even though they differ on abortion.

Yard signs in the district indicate a mix of views. Along Derhake Road in Florissant, several lawns sport both a bright yellow Schneider sign and a red-and-white Stokan one. But nearby are a few houses with Schneider and O'Mara signs on their front lawns.

Some people split down the middle by having on their lawns signs for Stokan and Bob Hagaman, a candidate in the Republican primary who opposes abortion.

Campaign finance reports required 40 days before the primary show Stokan has raised and spent about three times as much money as Begley. Stokan's total donations were $8,492.50 and Begley's $2,765. Crime

The candidates differ little on their approach to reducing crime.

They want violent criminals to serve most of their sentences. They favor alternative sentences for non-violent offenders; both mention community service as one option.

The Elderly

Stokan and her family cared for her father for 13 years as he suffered Alzheimer's disease. …

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