Hallelujah! Lawmakers embrace life with massive bill
April 19, 2005
Missouri Southern Baptists should rejoice over the imminent passage of a historic pro-life bill that adds new restrictions for abortionists. I encourage you to call the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin; Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood; Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill; and Gov. Matt Blunt (who has indicated he will sign it into law once the final draft reaches his desk) and express thanks for their Solomonic leadership on this critical issue. I encourage you to also call the considerable number of pro-life Democrats, like Rep. Belinda Harris, D-Hillsboro, who support the measure as well.
Too often we are quick to focus on the negative side of politics and those who have chosen to be public servants. I admit, I was terribly disappointed at those in the General Assembly, who along with the governor, opposed Sen. Matt Bartle’s legislation that would have banned a certain kind of cloning in Missouri. I might add that while Bartle’s bill stalled in this legislative session, it will be back – and so will our efforts to encourage its passage. I also understand that friends can disagree and that people change their minds.
Loudon’s massive bill, however, is cause for celebration and marks the crowning achievement of Missouri pro-life lobbyists who have worked hard to help Loudon’s pass. Chief among those is Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, and the president of that commission, Rodney Albert, pastor, Hallsville Baptist Church. They too, deserve the thanks of Missouri Southern Baptists.
In a nutshell, what will this bill do?
(1) Any physician who performs an abortion but isn’t allowed to provide obstetrical and gynecological care at a hospital within 30 miles would be guilty of a class B felony.
(2) It will allow for anyone who helps a minor cross the state line to obtain an abortion without the permission of a parent or judge to be sued in civil court.
(3) It prohibits, in most cases, public tax dollars from being given to groups that directly or indirectly subsidize abortions.
(4) It creates a tax credit for contributions to pro-life pregnancy centers.
(5) Physicians will be required to include in abortion reports the reason why a woman sought the abortion and whether she had been using birth control. The information would be placed in the woman’s medical record.
The net effect of Loudon’s bill is that it could shut down some Missouri abortion clinics, like Springfield Healthcare Center in Springfield, and it will discourage minors crossing state lines to places like Granite City, Ill., to get an abortion – a move that Loudon estimates will save the lives of approximately 800 babies a year. It also affirms parental rights when minors consider an abortion; and it takes money away from abortionists and encourages charitable contributions to pro-life pregnancy centers. It is a remarkable piece of legislation.
Besides the intense lobbying and hard work of Loudon, how did this happen?
I can recall sitting in Loudon’s office almost a year ago to the day and bemoaning the fact he could not get all the pro-life groups to agree on the bill, a move that likely caused legislative leaders to not make the bill a priority, especially in the session’s closing days. My personal frustration was so great that I contemplated calling all pro-life groups in the state together for a summit to make sure such a thing never happened again. As it turned out, such a meeting was not necessary thanks to Messer and other pro-life leaders in the state. Messer, in particular, showed why he is now considered one of the best lobbyists at the state Capitol.
The fact that this is possibly the only piece of pro-life legislation to emerge from this year’s General Assembly has been characterized by some in the statewide news media as evidence that lobbying by social conservatives – including the state’s 600,000 Southern Baptists – largely failed. I’m not sure I would characterize it as “failed,” however, I admit that conservatives in the General Assembly focused more on fiscal issues this session. I fully expect other social consecutive issues to be gradually addressed over the next three years.
As I have said before, Missouri Southern Baptists interests in politics do not include turning our democracy into a theocracy. Indeed, we oppose that. However, King Jesus has ordered those of us comprising the Kingdom of God to be “salt and light.” Part of being “salt” (and obedient) is having the courage to stand before those who rule us on earth and humbly say, “Thus saith the Lord.”
In the case of Loudon’s important pro-life bill, it is obvious they heard us – and acted. For that we are thankful and most importantly, give honor and glory to mighty Jehovah.
soli Deo gloria!