Leadership needed for passage of pro-life bill
Missouri Southern Baptists need to get their speed dials set with their state legislators’ phone numbers.
An important pro-life bill is meandering its way through the Missouri General Assembly and stands a solid chance of passage before lawmakers adjourn in May. Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O’Fallon, and Rep. Bryan Pratt, R-Blue Springs, are the sponsors of House Bills 46 and 434, and Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter and a member of First Baptist Church, Dexter, is the sponsor of corresponding Senate bill 264. If passed, these laws would make it a crime for anyone to knowingly coerce a woman into aborting her child by performing criminal acts against her or her family, assaulting or stalking her, attempting or threatening to harm her baby against her will or without her knowledge, firing or threatening to fire her for failing to abort her baby or revoking or threatening to revoke her scholarship for that reason. The legislation also mandates that women be offered an opportunity to view an ultrasound of her baby before an abortion and requires that she receive more complete information about alternatives to abortion.
During the first three years of the Blunt administration Missouri’s informed consent laws were strengthened and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortions, was dealt a severe blow throughout the state. Sadly, poor leadership in the House and Senate resulted in no pro-life legislation last year even though there were pro-life majorities in the House and Senate. Perhaps things are about to change.
There is a growing – and certainly more assertive – number of pro-life Democrats like Rachel Bringer of Palmyra, Linda Fischer of Bonne Terre and Belinda Harris of Ware, but it is the Republicans who still control matters with their majorities in the House and Senate. Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, has already allowed a vote on the pro-life measure. It passed 115-41 on March 5, but still faces a second vote (it’s expected to pass again) before heading to the Senate, where Majority Floor Leader Kevin Engler of Farmington has promised an abortion bill will be debated on the Senate floor this year. Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Legislative Liaison and President of the Missouri Family Network Kerry Messer, a member of the MBC Executive Board, says this is the bill. The Missouri Catholic Conference and other pro-life groups, like Americans United for Life which Messer also represents, agree and are unified in their commitment to passage of the bill.
Messer says it is a good bill that will save the lives of unborn and protect the wishes of the mother, but that is not all it does. It puts the pro-choicers in a tough political position. How can they be against a law that gives pregnant women more choices? As Colleen Carroll Campbell, a fellow at the St. Louis-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently: “Who wants to see a woman make a life-or-death decision for her unborn child without adequate information, only to lament later – as do the growing ranks of women in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign – that she did not truly understand what she was choosing?
Who wants to deprive a pregnant woman of access to as much information as possible so she can make her decision from a position of strength, knowledge and freedom rather than desperation and ignorance? And does anyone want to defend the right of abusive or manipulative boyfriends, husbands, parents, employers and coaches to bully a woman into aborting her child because her pregnancy inconveniences them?”
The key to getting the new bill passed is leadership. The Republicans have new leadership and there is reason for hope. House Speaker Richard looks strong and capable in the early going, but the jury is still out on the Senate, now led by President Pro Tem Charlie Shields of St. Joseph and Engler. There is a good chance that the bill will land in the Senate Judiciary Committee where it will be welcomed by Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, committee chair and a member of Abundant Life Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit. The votes for passage are obviously in the House and the feeling is there are more than enough in the Senate as well. Some think the measure may even produce a veto override if necessary with veto-proof, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate.
That brings us to Gov. Jay Nixon. Nixon, a pro-choice Democrat, campaigned – and appears to want to govern – as a centrist. Nixon is going to get tremendous pressure from the pro-choice lobby and he may attempt to privately strike a deal with Republican leadership to avoid what could be a political setback for him and the Democrats. The problem for Nixon and other pro-choice Missourians is that the majority in this state seem to want more restrictions on abortions.
So get the speed dial programmed with your local lawmakers’ phone numbers. In a few weeks Missouri Southern Baptists may have a chance to save some innocent babies. It is time once again to be obedient by being salt and light while reflecting the love of a pro-life, holy God.