JEFFERSON CITY – Pro-life issues had a promising future as the Missouri General Assembly adjourned March 17 for its annual spring break.
Two important measures were passed by the House of Representatives and sent on to the Senate, where they are expected to receive early attention and considerable support.
House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, submitted House Bill 213 (HB 213), which prohibits the abortion of any child of 20 weeks gestation who is deemed viable. The bill won passage in the House on a 119-38 vote March 17, the last day before spring break. It is on the Senate calendar for early action.
Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter and a deacon at First Baptist Church of Dexter, has indicated he will be the bill’s handler in the Senate. Mayer, president pro tem of the Senate, sponsored a companion bill, SB 65, which was expected to come before the full Senate in the week following the break.
“Viability” refers to the likelihood that the child can survive outside the mother’s womb with or without artificial support.
An exception would be made only if the life of the mother is in danger or if continuing the pregnancy would impose a serious risk of physical impairment of one of the mother’s major bodily functions.
Another pro-life bill getting attention is HB 28, introduced by Rep. David Sater, R-Cassville. Sater’s bill would require that a doctor physically examine and assess the health of any patient before prescribing an abortion drug such as RU-486 (mifepristone).
With an attachment sponsored by Rep. Andrew Koenig, R-Winchester, the law would also provide that licensed pharmacies not be required to participate in any service in connection with such abortifacient drugs and not be held legally liable if they refuse to be involved. The legislation would apply to businesses only and not to individual pharmacists.
This bill is expected to pass the House in short order and be referred to the Senate.
In a bill related to crime but dovetailing with human life issues, the House passed HB 214 March 3 with a vote of 155-0. Rep. Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, introduced the bill, which gives legal defense to anyone who is arrested for prostitution and can prove they were under the control of a trafficker.
The law would take into consideration the possibility that the defendant could be a victim. It would allow victims to plead trafficking as a defense and to sue for restitution from their handlers in civil court.
Sens. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon, and John T. Lamping, R-Ladue, had proposed similar legislation in the Senate, SB 394 and SB 331, respectively, but the House version had gotten more traction prior to spring break and appears to be moving forward.
Other pro-life bills have been heard in committee and are expected to come up for debate on the House and Senate floors in the second half of the session, which ends May 13.
BARBARA SHOUN/contributing writer