Baptists rejoice over pro-life bill signing
JEFFERSON CITY—One member of the press took Gov. Matt Blunt to task following his July 6 signing of a three-point pro-life bill at Concord Baptist Church, but Blunt’s response drew applause from a mostly-quiet audience.
“Aren’t you mixing church and state?” the unnamed reporter asked Blunt, with reference to the signing being held in a church.
Blunt, whose home church is Second Baptist of Springfield, countered that the Constitution does not require that God be removed from the public sphere but that “we won’t have a state-sponsored church. People of faith believe it is important to protect life. It is appropriate to sign the bill where there are people who care about the legislation.”
The governor deemed House Bill 1055 (HB 1055) “the strongest piece of pro-life legislation in Missouri history.”
In remarks prior to signing the bill, Blunt began by saying that, when elected, he promised to further the cause for life and reduce the number of abortions. He then went on to elaborate on the bill’s three provisions.
• Through the Alternatives to Abortion Program, it will provide ongoing support to organizations that help meet the needs of expectant at-risk mothers who want to carry their children to term.
• It requires that abortion providers be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. Blunt noted that “An abortion is a serious medical procedure and should be subject to the same medical regulations… If they can’t meet the same basic requirements others do, then they should shut down.”
• It prohibits abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, from teaching sex education or supplying sex education materials to public schools. Blunt said that the legislation gives school districts the option to provide abstinence-only courses, but it doesn’t mandate abstinence only. “It allows elected school boards to get input and make that decision for the schools,” he said.
Blunt said this has been a point of real opposition. “It’s really an issue about funding,” he said. “A significant source of revenue for abortion providers is from the sale of sex education materials.”
In a question-and-answer exchange which followed, Blunt was asked if he expected a court challenge by the schools. He intimated that he expected such a challenge, particularly as it relates to contracting by schools that receive state funding.
One reporter asked why the 2005 law, requiring that abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles, is not sufficient. Blunt replied, “If you want to open an ambulatory surgical center to meet some other procedure, you would have to meet standards. Abortion providers shouldn’t be exempt.”
Another reporter questioned why Planned Parenthood’s Kansas City clinic would have to be licensed as an ambulatory surgical center when it only provides [abortion] pills.
Blunt referred the question to Rep. Therese Sander (R-Moberly), sponsor of HB 1055, who said that abortion providers should be required to keep records and do follow-up, noting that even the pills have had deadly side effects.
In remarks made earlier, Sander said that her purpose in life has been to undo the damage to life done by Roe v. Wade. She credited the entire General Assembly for getting the bill passed. She also credited the pro-life community. “Pro-life organizations came together to work in unity,” she told those assembled for the signing.
Also on hand for the signing was Sen. Delbert Scott (R-Lowry City), sponsor of the companion bill in the Senate. Scott echoed Sander’s remarks. “It’s the product of a lot of groups working together, and the legislation really will save the lives of unborn children in the state of Missouri.”
Among the groups that led the charge in helping get the bill passed was the Missouri Baptist Convention. Lawmakers were lobbied hard by the MBC’s Christian Life Commission’s lobbyist Kerry Messer, Commission Chairman Rodney Albert, pastor, Hallsville Baptist Church, and Pathway Editor Don Hinkle.
State Sen. Carl Vogel (R-Jefferson City) also attended the bill signing and noted the significant role played by the MBC.
Vogel told the Jefferson City News-Tribune it was “appropriate” to hold the bill signing at Concord, because “(Pastor) Monte (Shinkle) and his church and the Missouri Baptist Convention on opening day of the General Assembly host the Executive branch and the Judicial branch and the Legislative branch (of government) to a breakfast and a moment of prayer.