Tide turning toward life in abortion cases
look promising in Missouri
By Allen Palmeri
March 7, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – The latest abortion ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court upholding the state’s 24-hour wait law before abortions are performed is a clear indication that the era of judicial activism from the early 1970s through the early 2000s is over, according to the chairman of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Christian Life Commission (CLC).
Rodney Albert said the Feb. 28 ruling that affirmed a 2003 law requiring physicians performing or inducing abortions to inform the patient of truthful, non-misleading information about the nature of the proposed procedure and obtain from the patient written consent is a sign that judges in Missouri are finally getting it. The pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church was delighted that all seven of the judges on the state’s high court apparently agreed with the pro-life position in this most recent decision.
“Conservatives have done an excellent job of creating an environment to restrain judicial activism, and I think we’ve seen that in the Missouri Supreme Court decision,” Albert said. “Some of those judges have liberal leanings. That one of them did not agree with the Planned Parenthood assertion that this statute was unduly vague was very surprising—refreshingly so.
“I think the judges are feeling the heat of the people. This still is a country where our government is of the people. Our judges are supposed to be removed from direct influence, but they do not live in a vacuum. It’s incumbent upon conservative Christians to let our voice be known and let our frustration and anger over judicial activism be known, and we’re seeing the results.”
Kerry Messer, a 22-year observer of the high court who serves as CLC lobbyist and founder of the Missouri Family Network, said the Feb. 28 decision is proof that pro-life advocates are writing legislation properly even as they are subjected to a steady stream of criticism from editorial writers in the mainstream press.
“We’re doing our homework according to the constitutional guidelines that the federal and state courts have given us, and we are confident that the pro-life team in place right now at the state Capitol is continuing to come up with pro-life packages that will sustain the legal challenges that come out of the clash of worldviews in our culture,” Messer said.
Planned Parenthood spokespersons vowed to continue the fight against the 24-hour wait law in federal court, where U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright has issued several favorable rulings since 2003, but that strategy would appear to be problematic at this point. The Missouri Supreme Court cited Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision, in ruling that the 24-hour wait period does not violate the federal constitution, and Judge Wright’s goal at this point may be to make sure Missouri law conforms to the Casey decision, according to LifeNews.com.
“We’ve been on the receiving end of frustrating decisions, and it’s refreshing to see the tide turning,” Albert said. “The other side, in a sense, is getting legislatively, executively and now judicially the cold shoulder.”
Albert said Missourians have every reason to be hopeful that the next ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court in an abortion case will go just as well. The judges are mulling their opinion on the new Missouri abortion law, the civil liability/informed parental consent bill that Gov. Blunt signed into law last September. The governor has said repeatedly that he is confident the new law is written in such a way that it will prove to be constitutional.
The new law stipulates that children must get parental permission before having an abortion and that a “next friend,” or adult who helps a girl petition a court, 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. A third provision of the new law, which requires abortionists to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles has already withstood a federal court challenge and is now in effect. That provision of the law contributed to the closing of an abortion clinic in Springfield late last year.
Planned Parenthood continues to operate the remaining two abortion clinics in Missouri, in St. Louis and Columbia.
“Planned Parenthood is an evil organization,” Albert said.