Pro-life bills poised to advance in Senate
JEFFERSON CITY—Pro-life legislation is being looked upon favorably by the Missouri Senate’s Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence Committee after a spirited first round of testimony Feb. 19.
Key pro-life bills are expected to be voted out of committee and to the full Senate with a “do pass” recommendation. A proposal requiring pharmacies to supply “morning after” pills died in committee.
The committee endeavored to schedule all pro-life related bills into one hearing so that prospective witnesses would not have to make multiple trips to the Capitol in order to testify. At least three bills appear to be meeting with the committee’s approval.
“It looks like these three provisions will be packaged into one committee substitute bill so that the bill will come up before the Senate at one time,” said Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) Christian Life Commission (CLC). “Those who will filibuster pro-life legislation then will have one filibuster.
“Everybody has the goal of putting at least these three items on the governor’s desk. Thankfully, the governor has requested these items.”
The first bill is Senate Bill 370, introduced by Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, which seeks to require abortion facilities to be licensed under the same standards as required for ambulatory surgical centers.
Alison Gee of Planned Parenthood testified against the bill and noted that their facility is already operated as an ambulatory surgical center. Two other abortion facilities in the state are not. Their facility in Columbia is the only one doing second trimester surgical procedures.
Gee charged that abortion physicians are held to a stricter standard than others and have been singled out. “Abortion is safer than a tonsillectomy,” she stated.
Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, presented SB 432, which would prohibit abortion providers from teaching sex education classes in public schools.
When questioned by Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, Nodler affirmed that Planned Parenthood would be one of those deemed in conflict of interest and prohibited from teaching their curriculum.
Although agreeing with the abstention first concept, Senators Graham, Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, and Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, took issue with sex education programs that do not address contraceptives or abortion.
Several witnesses said that students are getting misinformation from abstinence-only curriculum.
Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin, countered that teaching on contraceptives is often misleading as well, noting that some STD and HIV molecules are small and pass through condoms.
Sen. Chris Koster, R-Harrisonville, introduced the third bill that was expected to be passed out of committee, SB 375, to be known as the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Services Program. The bill is meant to provide services and counseling to pregnant women, continuing for one year after birth, instead of their having abortions. It would also assist women in placing their children for adoption and would include a public education arm that would be attached to the bill.
Justus introduced SB 72, which would require pharmacies to dispense contraceptives without delay upon receipt of a valid, lawful prescription.
Pamela Sumners of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) testified that her organization had heard stories of women being refused or publicly embarrassed when they tried to buy emergency contraceptives (abortifacients also known as “the morning after pill”).
She indicated that 9 of 10 women living in rural counties lack pharmacies that will order, fill or stock the pill. “No hassles. No lectures. No delays. Fulfill your duties to fill your prescriptions,” she said.
Messer was among those testifying against the bill, saying that it violates moral consensus.