Signs point to pro-life bill’s passage
By Allen Palmeri
September 6, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – As lawmakers meeting in a special session of the Missouri General Assembly begin to debate the merits of pro-life legislation Sept. 6, one state senator is encouraged that parental consent ideas he has been championing for seven years in the Capitol are finally springing to life.
Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin, anticipates his fellow senators will pass a bill he is once again sponsoring that has been streamlined to contain the three pro-life provisions requested by Gov. Matt Blunt. With approval by the House of Representatives and the promised signature of the governor, the bill would then, barring any legal pitfalls, become law.
“Everything that I’ve heard is that I’ll be handling the bill again,” Loudon said in an Aug. 29 interview with The Pathway.
In April, Loudon saw his omnibus abortion bill, which would have closed loopholes and modified numerous state abortion laws, pass the Senate only to watch it stall in the House. Pro-life lobbyists and politicians groused over the details resulting in no bill and a bunch of finger-pointing at who was to blame. Now it is September and cooler heads are expected to prevail, giving Loudon a second chance.
“I’m very cautiously optimistic that it will (pass),” he said. “I thought we were going to get it done earlier in the year. Once bitten, twice shy here.”
The Loudon bill would:
1) Allow parents to sue any adult who helps his or her minor daughter (under age 18) to get an abortion without getting the required parental consent, including if the girl is taken across state lines;
2) Limit “next friend,” or an adult who acts on behalf of a child in a parental consent court proceeding, to exclude anyone with a financial interest or potential gain in the girl’s decision to have an abortion; and
3) Require abortion doctors to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed or induced.
The leading pro-life representative in the special session is Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, who announced in late August that she and nine other women state legislators had filed a bill similar to the one that Loudon was planning on handling. When Loudon learned of Cunningham’s action by way of The Pathway, he was surprised.
“I’m fearful that there would be any politically motivated move that would bog this bill down,” he said. “It got wrapped up in politics before, and I’d be very nervous that anybody would be trying to do something like that again.”
Spence Jackson, the governor’s spokesman, wants to assure the senator and anybody else who may be wondering whether Republicans might implode on this issue that the GOP is united.
“We think the legislation is in excellent hands with respect to Sen. Loudon and Rep. Cunningham and her co-sponsors in the House,” Jackson said.
Jackson was asked directly about whether he thinks egos, lobbyists and political infighting again will cause lawmakers to stumble again.
“I don’t see that happening,” he said.
The Missouri Republican Party, which controls the statehouse and the governor’s office, has set up www.prolifemissouri.com to highlight Blunt’s desire to curb abortions. In a radio ad, the governor talks about how the birth of his son, Branch, in March has made him all the more opposed to abortion.
Rep. Cunningham will be a factor in the special session based on her longstanding commitment to regulate the abortion industry, said Kerry Messer, lobbyist, Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission.
“Rep. Cunningham has been a stalwart defender of the unborn and has consistently fought to get regulations of what goes on at abortion clinics, how abortion doctors are allowed to operate in the state,” Messer said. “Jane has been the one who has brought these issues of accountability and health care to the forefront.”
One thing pro-life Republican majorities in the House and Senate will not buy into is the so-called family planning services policy of previous Democrat administrations. Editorial writers in some of Missouri’s metropolitan daily newspapers have been trumpeting the plan as a solution, but Messer said that this approach clearly has failed.
“They want to go back to pro-abortion Gov. (Mel) Carnahan’s position of using taxpayer dollars to dump condoms and birth control pills in the pockets of minors and others at taxpayers’ expense,” Messer said. “Basically, what they’re talking about is a culture of promiscuity. We must stand against that.”
Promoting birth control actually promotes more sexual activity, Messer said, which is the wrong message for government to be sending.
“We can use public policy to greatly reduce the number of abortions in the state of Missouri simply by holding people accountable,” he said.
Loudon said that while he would have loved to have been a part of a bill-signing ceremony a month or two ago, the Senate abortion bill that failed in May would have not become law until Aug. 28 anyway.
“We have a chance to lose but a week or two of eliminating this problem,” he said. “So that’s one thing that I’ve taken heart in.”