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Examining the Motives Behind Republican Lawmakers’ Push to Preserve Child Marriage

Conservatives Push to Allow Child Marriage, Sparking Controversy

Holly Thompson Rehder’s journey from being a teenage bride to a GOP state senator sponsoring a bill to ban child marriage in Missouri highlights the complications and challenges surrounding this issue.

Rehder, who married at 15, understands firsthand the harmful impact of teenage marriage on young girls’ lives. Despite her personal experiences, she has encountered resistance from some Republican colleagues who argue against ending child marriage.

Missouri’s current laws allow marriage at the age of 16 with parental consent, and efforts to raise the marriage age to 18 have faced opposition. Some opponents, like Rep. Hardy Billington, have even suggested that ending child marriage could lead to an increase in abortions, a claim that Rehder rejects.

Child Marriage Debate Reignites as Republicans Present Case for Legalization

The debate over child marriage extends beyond Missouri, with only 12 states having banned it outright. A study by Unchained at Last revealed disturbing statistics about child marriages in the United States, including instances involving children as young as 10.

In other states like New Hampshire and Wyoming, similar bills to raise the marriage age have faced opposition from Republican lawmakers who cite concerns about abortion or traditional values. However, there have been successes, such as in West Virginia, where a bill to raise the minimum marriage age finally passed.

Rehder remains determined to push her bill forward despite its current stall in the legislative process. As she continues to advocate for raising the marriage age to 18, she emphasizes the importance of perseverance. She plans to introduce her proposal as an amendment to another bill, hoping to garner more support.

Rehder’s efforts underscore the ongoing struggle to address child marriage in the United States and the need for bipartisan cooperation to protect vulnerable youth from its harmful consequences.

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