May 6, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – The pro-life movement appears headed toward a major victory in Missouri.
With Southern Baptist legislators providing almost unanimous support, the Missouri General Assembly approved the controversial woman’s right to know bill on May 1 and forwarded the legislation to Gov. Bob Holden’s desk.
Holden has announced that he will veto the bill, but the victory margin was sufficient in both the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate to override a veto. The Senate voted 23-6 for the bill, and the House margin was an overwhelming 116-34.
The premise of the right-to-know bill, also described as the informed consent measure, is that women have the right to know how the abortion procedure will affect their medical condition. The legislation requires a consultation between the woman and a doctor at least 24 hours before the abortion is performed.
Susan Klein, legislative liaison for Missouri Right to Life, helped lead the lobbying effort for the legislation. Klein is the wife of Dusty Klein, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Sedalia.
“One of the arguments against a 24-hour waiting period is that it will cause an undue burden on women who have to travel,” Klein said. “Obviously, there will be some burden. But the bigger burden is caused by the emotional effects these women have to live with all their lives.
“This is the testimony that comes from post-abortive women who were not given adequate information. Many testified that they never saw the physician until he walked into the room to do the abortion.”
Klein is confident the informed consent measure will withstand court tests.
She said 15 states now have similar laws.
“And the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1992 (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey) that a 24-hour waiting period is not an undue burden,” Klein said.
Plans are being made to counter a Holden veto.
“At the veto session on September 10, we are planning a big rally at the Capitol. We need as many at the Capitol that day as we can get. This is one of the most important pieces of pro-life legislation we’ve seen in recent years,” Klein said. “In states that have a woman’s right-to-know law, the number of abortions has decreased.”
“Some of the legislators said they could not support the bill because it implies that women are not intelligent enough to make the decision themselves. But we believe it will empower them to make more informed decisions because they will have more information to consider.”
Klein said many believe the right-to-know legislation does not do enough in the fight against abortion.
“Some would say that we need to outlaw abortions,” Klein said. “In a perfect world, that’s great. But until we get to a point where we can deal with Roe vs. Wade, we have to live under what Roe vs. Wade says.
“We can see the pro-life support growing. We picked up so many pro-life seats in the last elections and the great thing about the vote on this measure is that we received strong bi-partisan support. This is not a party issue, it’s a life issue.”