The look on Sara Lampe's face said it all.
Springfield's #138th District State Representative doesn't hide her emotions well.
She wears them on her sleeve, and face and throughout her body -- as she did when she walked off the House floor Tuesday after a brief but emotionally explosive debate on abortion.
A major portion of the legislation at hand was a provision to criminalize the act of coercing a woman to have an abortion. Lampe, who is in the process of weighing a State Senate run in 2010, didn't have to stand up and voice opposition. She knew, legislatively, it was a losing battle. She's also fully aware of abortion politics in Greene County. A consultant might have warned her to lay low and zip it. But she didn't sit on her hands.
Instead, she offered an amendment to make an exception for rape and incest, while raising the point that a significant number of those victims are children under the age of 12. "If this 12-year-old, 11-year-old, 10-year-old is pregnant, this child is now considered a woman," Lampe said on the floor. "Most parents, in dealing with 10, 11 or 12-year-old, are going to be, perceived as being coercive with their child."
In an interview immediately following her speech, Lampe was visibly shaking. She acknowledged she "had to stop getting so worked up about these things." But then immediately began doing just that in our interview.
Debate on the merits of the position should be encouraged; labeling someone in favor of coercion seems like over-the-top demagoguery.
But so is Lampe's.
If Lampe, who is in Hannibal this weekend for Democrat Days, does decide to seek Springfield's 30th District State Senate seat, her abortion amendment is likely to pop up in fliers, door hangers and robo-calls. (Sara Lampe voted to allow women to be forced into abortions . . . the voice will intone.)
She's full aware that she'll see and hear about this vote again. It would've been easier to skirt off the floor and claim a prior appointment.
But the fact that despite all of this, she still stood up and voiced her minority opinion is a bold stroke of political chutzpah.
Later in the week, Nora Cox, Lampe's closest political confidante, said that the State Representative had been deluged with messages from around the region from women thanking her for her stand.
One woman described a pregnancy while dealing with mental health issues. Others wrote about overcoming incest -- and worse.
"This is not about politics for her. It's too important for politics," Cox said, dismissing the possible fallout that may occur down the road.
It's hard for any Democrat to get elected in Greene County. Being vocally in favor of abortion rights won't likely help Lampe's chances in achieving that goal.
But any politician willing to stand their ground -- politics be damned -- deserves a hat tip.