March 25, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – Republican control of the Missouri Legislature has created a climate in which pro-life legislation has gained more momentum than it has in years, according to a pro-life lobbyist at the Capitol.
Two bills are advancing, said Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network. A Senate bill sponsored by Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin, would impose civil liability on anyone violating Missouri’s informed consent law for abortions. A House bill sponsored by Rep. Susan Phillips, R-Kansas City, would require women to wait at least 24 hours after discussing it with a physician before having an abortion.
"This is the first time since the late 70s that we have had leadership in the House and/or the Senate, and in this case both, where pro-life initiatives have been allowed to take time on the floor," Messer noted.
"Both the House and the Senate have been allowed to openly and freely debate the issues, and they’ve actually been allowed to vote on passing the issues. A new day has dawned in Missouri where the leadership of our state legislature is actually taking the abortion issue as serious public policy. It’s a great day for the advancement of Biblical principles."
The Loudon bill has cleared the Senate and could get "a pretty easy ride" in the House, the senator said. It would crack down on anyone enabling a minor to obtain an abortion without the consent which is already required by Missouri law. Currently this law is being bypassed by those who get abortions in Illinois, which does not have a parental consent law.
"Opposition to this bill is support of lawlessness," said Loudon, a member of Ballwin Baptist Church. "We’ve got a law in this state that gives rights to parents, and the people who are opposed to my bill are saying girls should be able to continue breaking the law."
Missouri’s law has been approved by the Missouri Supreme Court and has managed to obtain the backing of many abortion supporters.
"We have about 75 percent of the population in any poll that agrees with the parental consent law," Loudon said. "The problem we have is that our good neighbors in Illinois are thwarting our law, and willingly."
The bill, should it become law, would tilt more power toward the parents.
"If somebody actually aids their child, a boyfriend or a school counselor or that crazy aunt that’s sort of the black sheep of the family who goes and takes your daughter over to Illinois and has the abortion, you can sue that individual," Loudon said.
In an act of compromise, abortion supporters were able to tack on an amendment for a $1,000 cap to be placed on the damages in civil liability. Ultimately, Loudon said, this could very well help the bill become law.
"They basically said, ‘If you mess with that cap, we’ll filibuster it when it comes back (from the House)," Loudon said. "Right now we have what is very close to a veto-proof majority on this agreement. The governor could always veto it. We sure hope he wouldn’t. I think he’d really be going out on a limb, because we’re not talking about abortion per se, we’re really talking about the rights of parents to be involved in these decisions."
The Phillips bill is meant to slow down the process and cause women to think through their abortion decision. The 24-hour time period creates more protection for the innocent child in that his or her life cannot be terminated until a physician is consulted. The physician would be required by law to discuss with the woman the physical and emotional risks of abortion, and that they sign a form certifying the process.
It has cleared the House with a veto-proof majority and is expected to pass the Senate, Phillips said.
"I have heard for a long time that women are receiving an abortion and not seeing a doctor until they are already sedated," Phillips said. "This bill insists that they speak with a doctor, and that they sign a form saying they have done so. It’s much more serious than having your ears pierced. Women need time to reflect upon their decision."
Phillips is euphoric about the strength in the pro-life ranks.
"This is the year," she said. "We have the people to do it. We have 90 new freshmen, and they don’t know that they have to vote along party lines. They’re willing to do the right thing. I see an openness to embrace these types of bills and it’s very exciting."