Senate to consider sweeping pro-life package
By Allen Palmeri
March 30, 2004
|Rodney Albert, pastor, First Baptist Church , Hallsville, and chairman of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission examines a cross that commemorates the abortion of 43 million American babies since 1973. It is located on the third floor of the state Capitol. Pathway photo by Bob Baysinger|
JEFFERSON CITY – Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, said the Senate is ready to take up a package of three pro-life bills led by Senate Bill 738, which would impose civil liability for violating Missouri ’s informed consent law that stipulates children must get parental permission before having an abortion.
The law is designed to protect parents’ right to counsel their children before allowing them to have the procedure. However, abortion activists like Planned Parenthood have been encouraging Missouri children to go to Illinois to get an abortion since that state does not have informed consent. The measure in the Missouri General Assembly, sponsored by Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin and a member of Ballwin Baptist Church, would provide a “much-needed corrective measure," said Kinder. On the Senate’s informal calendar, the pro-life package has moved up to the second spot and appears poised for debate. The Senate came off its spring break March 29 and went back into session at 3 p.m.
Prayer vigil set
for Illinois abortion clinic
A prayer vigil is planned for April 24 at the Granite City abortion clinic. Organizers are hoping to encircle the building with people willing to pray, starting at 8 a.m. For more information, contact Steve Smith, a Missouri Baptist pro-life activist, at 314-406-1448.
“We’ve had parental consent law for more than 20 years on the books in Missouri," Kinder said. “It’s sad that they have not acted similarly in Illinois, but what we see in the yellow pages of the phone book are you have all these advertisements to try to entice minors to come there. They trumpet and advertise the fact that no parental consent is required."
Last year the bill passed the Senate with an amendment capping the damages in civil liability at $1,000. As a result of the cap, which Loudon accepted as a compromise to avert a Democrat filibuster, House members were reluctant to support the bill.
“We will try to remove that (cap) this year," Kinder said, a move that would add punch to penalties resulting from civil action brought by angered parents.
Loudon said Missouri Baptists ought to pray that Senate leaders invest the necessary time and energy to pass the entire floor substitute bill, which includes two supporting pieces. One, sponsored by Sen. Anita Yeckel, R-St. Louis, prohibits anyone but licensed physicians from performing abortions, and the second, by Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit and a deacon at First Baptist Church, Raytown, specifies that a “next friend" does not include another minor child or any person who has a financial interest or may potentially gain from the minor’s decision to have an abortion.
“I, no doubt, will be expected by the other side to accept the same deal I accepted last year," Loudon said. “My preference is that we break the filibuster by pounding it through. It’s just terrifying to think that we are letting babies die when it’s just a matter of showing the political resolve to pound these protections through."
Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention, estimated that at least 400 lives a year will be saved at a Granite City, Ill., abortion clinic if Loudon’s bill becomes law. The “next friend" bill has the potential to save just as many lives, Messer said.
Kinder’s decision to roll all of the pro-life bills into one package to be debated by senators as March turns into April is “aggressive," Loudon said.
“I think we ought to be doing everything we can to protect babies and minor girls who are being caught in this situation and are being tempted to do the wrong thing," Loudon said. “At the same time, I’m trying to protect parents’ rights to have the supreme authority rather than let an abortion clinic in Illinois be the final authority. What we have here is a bill that not only strengthens our informed consent law but has a couple of provisions that tie in quite nicely, in my view.
“The ‘next friend’ language, the way I understand it, is going to stop a minor from using a court to get an exemption, being led there and taken through that process by somebody connected with the abortion industry. That protects minors and reaffirms parental consent. And the other provision requiring that any abortion doctor has hospital privileges I think also is something that is very common sense."
Messer said the Republican majority in the Senate along with a significant number of pro-life Democrats are trying to address a generation of abortion laws in Missouri that have favored abortion proponents.
“We are attempting to correct," Messer said. “The biggest battle we face is it’s much, much harder to change status quo than to create new standards. We’ve got a lot of pro-life Democrats who have been kicking against the political goads of their party for years."
Pray for Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, Messer said. Gibbons will be facing tremendous pressure from 8-10 of his colleagues who are “dead set" against the pro-life legislation, Messer said.
“He should be at the top of the prayer list," Messer said. “He is the one who makes the decision that we have to move on to another issue. We need to thank the Lord for his commitment to the pro-life cause, but he’s also become the No. 1 target of the liberal organizations across the state."
Letters and phone calls from Missouri Baptists to their senators during this critical time can help determine whether the Senate passes the pro-life legislation, Messer said. Call (573) 751-2000 and ask for your senator, he said.