Dear Editor,

Baby killer. When I rode my bicycle to the post office Thursday, the last thing I expected was to have my state representative vilify me by slurring the words “baby killer” at me.

When I saw Rep. Richard Tass behind me at the post office, after confirming his identity, I blurted the first thing that came into my head out of my mouth, “Why do you legislate against women? Don’t you think women have the same mental capacity as men?”

Rep. Tass is the author of attempted (House Bill) 140, which requires women wait 48 hours before an abortion. Men are not required to wait 48 hours before any medical procedure of their own or when making life and death decisions regarding their wives or others. Also, be mindful, he voted to essentially put the open records policy of the entire Legislature in one party’s hands on (Senate File) 161.

His bias labeled me, not the content of our discussion. I spoke of mental capacity. When asked why he legislates against women, he answered, “I am for babies.” Meaning he is against women? All of the women of Johnson County deserve an answer to my question regarding mental capacity. Is this an example of systemic bias? Is it why Johnson County has never had a female legislator?

Rep. Tass reprimanded me saying, “I didn’t like your behavior,” when I called him by phone a few hours later to declare we had gotten off on the wrong foot, and maybe we could discuss it in person. He hung up on me. Has he hung up on concerned male constituents?

I was a legislative spouse for 20 years. I watched as people swooned over their elected representatives, wasting opportunity after opportunity to have their voice heard. So no, I did not swoon. My behavior was assertive. I called him Rep. Tass. He called me a baby killer. Because of this, I suggest Rep. Tass doesn’t believe he is accountable to women.

When women demand equality, negative labels are attached in order for the biased to marginalize women. Rep. Richard Tass displayed the behavior classically. It isn’t all Rep. Tass’ fault. Like Vice President Biden, he is in conflict with the current times. In addition, he will be in conflict with legislative leadership for disregarding legislative behavioral guidelines. Most importantly we must guide Rep. Tass to understand little ladies have smarts and rights, too.

There are many like-situations around the state. One legislator asked a woman testifying before a legislative committee, “What’s for dinner?” Instances around the state such as this is why I am encouraging legislative leadership to please appoint, at no-cost, Equality Advisors. The Advisors will guide fellow legislators to understand the intricacies bias to ensure we are all treated equally. Please write to legislative leadership asking for Equality Advisors. It’s the least they can do.  

Dana Burns


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