When Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, rightly let an important pro-life bill become law earlier this month, it marked yet another victory for the pro-life movement in Missouri and continues the state’s trend of putting restrictions on abortions.
This most recent bill bans late-term abortions after 20 weeks gestation except when continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major body function of the pregnant mother. It will save the lives of innocent babies while protecting women from the risks of late-term abortion. “Although people have differing views on this issue, it’s important that we work together to provide accurate health information, promote personal responsibility, protect women’s health, and improve foster care, adoption and child protection services,” Nixon said.
While we commend the governor, the measure was overwhelmingly passed in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. President pro tem of the Senate Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, and a deacon at First Baptist Church, Dexter, sponsored the Senate version and skillfully guided it to the governor’s desk. Rep. Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, sponsored the measure in the House, displaying great leadership on the bill’s way to passage.
Missouri’s preference for restricting abortions reflects the mood of our nation in general. In the first six months of 2011, states enacted 162 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute, no friend of the pro-life movement, but whose statistics are highly regarded. Fully 49 percent of these new laws place some type of restriction on abortions, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26 percent of new laws placed restrictions. The 81 abortion restrictions enacted this year – in 20 states – are more than double the previous record of 34 enacted in 2005 – and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010.
The restrictions on abortion reflect a growing number of Americans who say they are pro-life. More than 60 percent of Americans in a May Gallup poll believe abortion should be illegal in most circumstances, a six-year high. Sixty-one percent say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances or legal in only a few circumstances, compared to 37 percent who say abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances. The 61 percent is an increase from 2010’s 56 percent and is the highest since 2005, when 62 percent answered similarly. Additionally, 51 percent of U.S. adults say abortion is morally wrong compared to 39 percent who say it is morally acceptable.
This latest pro-life law comes on the heels of another passed by the General Assembly in 2010. Nixon allowed it to become law without signing it, making Missouri the fifth state to opt out of the abortion funding in the national health care law (ObamaCare) signed by President Obama. It also provides women with the opportunity to see an ultrasound of their unborn child before choosing abortion, while giving them 24 hours to reflect on the ultrasound and information they receive on fetal development.
These restrictions on abortions reflect views of a majority of Missourians. In a 2009 poll sponsored by the Missouri Roundtable for Life, an organization for which I serve on its board of directors, and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, showed that 52 percent of Missourians identify themselves as pro-life, while 41 percent said they are pro-choice.
I believe all this is due to the prayers of Christians throughout Missouri, along with their willingness to elect pro-life lawmakers and then hold them accountable. God is granting us victories because we have asked Him to do so while being faithful to Him in our words and deeds. Praise God and may we never rest in our quest to protect life.
DON HINKLE / editor