Abortion task force crystallizes
Missouri Baptists occupy half of the chairs at latest meeting
JEFFERSON CITY—Half of the people around the table were Baptist as the Governor’s Task Force on the Impact of Abortion on Women convened for its third meeting Nov. 12 in House Hearing Room 3 at the State Capitol.
Leading the Baptist delegation and facilitating the meeting was Cindy Province, who is a member of Dardenne Baptist Church, O’Fallon. Province is the chief Missouri Baptist nurse ethicist and a co-founder of the Center for Bioethics and Culture-Missouri branch. She said she is pleased with how the task force has deliberated in its first three meetings.
“The literature review is just beginning,” she said. “We’re just narrowing down the topics that the task force feels are important to study. Today I was making a list of those topics so that I can go back to the literature, get the relevant papers that have been published on that topic and go through them. We’ll put them into something like an evidence table where we evaluate the strength of the evidence on a given issue.
“I think we did a good job of coming away with about eight or 10 issues that we feel are strongly relevant and are going to end up in our report.”
Among 10 people helping to propel the task force forward are: Kerry Messer, minister, First Baptist Church, Festus-Crystal City; Belinda Harris, laity, Morse Mill Baptist Church; Juliana Myers, laity, First Baptist Church, Camdenton; and Susan Klein, laity, Cedar Grove Baptist Church, Holts Summit. Myers, executive director of the Pregnancy Help Center in the Lake of the Ozarks, is passionate about the momentum.
“I am so thrilled that Governor Blunt has taken the pro-life stance and done so many things,” Myers said. “Today’s meeting was really, really good. I hope that we can continue looking at informational packets so that the woman who is considering abortion isn’t misled.”
The governor has a strong Christian worldview in that he believes Jesus died on a cross and was resurrected to life in “the most important event in history. Everything else centers around it. It sustains the universe and it sustains me.” He, too, is Baptist. He calls Second Springfield home as he sits under the preaching and teaching ministry of Senior Pastor John Marshall, second vice president of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Province said one area that the task force will be examining is the effect of ultrasound machines on decision making. She noted in general that the science of women being impacted by abortion from 1973 to the present is elusive, challenging and borderline prolix.
“All of the knowledge we have is provisional,” she said. “This is why we have these stories repeatedly in the media—something you eat is good for you, and then you turn around the next month and it’s bad for you. That’s the media’s take on this development of provisional knowledge. So yeah, it is always changing.
“I’ve also had the question of whether we’re being redundant by re-studying. The one they brought to my attention was what (Former U.S. Surgeon General) C. Everett Koop did back in 1987 (which drew no conclusions on how abortion may be harming women psychologically.) Of course there’s been work done since then, and that’s what we want to look at to get a better handle on the topic.”
Messer, president of Missouri Family Network and lobbyist for the MBC, and Klein, legislative liaison for Missouri Right to Life, are legislatively inclined. So is Harris, a state representative who chairs the 29-member House Democrats for Life caucus. How might the findings of the task force translate into new public policy in 2008?
“We’re going to look at this from many different angles,” Province said. “Where we need laws, we’ll suggest that. Where we need stronger enforcement, we’ll suggest that. Where we need more data, hopefully we’ll know that and be able to suggest that we gather more data.”
All it takes to turn this country around is one state law that results in a U.S. Supreme Court decision against women’s right to choose, the Kansas City Star reported in a Nov. 8 editorial.
The next meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on the Impact of Abortion on Women will be Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. in one of the House hearing rooms. Coercion as it pertains to pregnant women in abusive relationships will be one of the main items on the agenda.