Sen. McCaskill embraces community feedback at local town hall tour

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FULTON – Despite growing tensions in town halls across the nation, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, made an appearance to respond to constituent concerns in a heavily red region of the state. The visit was her third tour stop of eight across the state.

Residents brought forward hot button issues like the air strike in Syria, Russia investigation, Supreme Court confirmation of Neil Gorsuch and gave local perspective on health care.

Eight-year-old Ava Santhuff was one of the many residents to speak out on health care. Ava and her parents founded the Super Sam Foundation to increase federal funding for pediatric cancer after her brother passed away of a rare form of the disease in 2014.

“Kids are losing their siblings, and it’s just not right. They’re worth more than just 4 percent of the funding,” Ava said.

According to the National Cancer Institute, its 2015 budget was $4.93 billion. Childhood cancer received 4 percent of that sum, or $198 million.

“I want to know why there’s not enough money going around for these kids, it’s not right,” Ava said.

McCaskill acknowledged the girl’s bravery for standing up in front of the audience and said, “We have to stay committed to funding government research… I’m going to be very supportive of those research dollars.”

Anti-abortion advocate Joanne Schrader also spoke out in regard to health care and criticized McCaskill’s support for Planned Parenthood.

“We are a state with one abortion facility, and we would like to see that go away. Abortion is an intrinsic evil because it takes the life of a human being,” Schrader said.

“For the life of me, I can’t understand how we reduce abortions by reducing people’s access to birth control,” McCaskill said.

McCaskill was very clear about her disapproval of Supreme Court confirmation Judge Neil Gorsuch.

On the "nuclear decision" to change the number of votes needed to confirm Gorsuch, McCaskill said, “I don’t think it’s good for the court, I don’t think it’s good for the country.”