JEFFERSON CITY—In the current special session of the Missouri Legislature, pro-life lobbyists are being asked to participate in the amending of the Missouri Science Innovation & Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA).
Two pro-life senators offered different amendments in the Senate, with one by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, making it onto the final version of the act Sept. 14. It is expected that the Missouri Right to Life language that Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles (ch) unsuccessfully launched will now be circulated in the House. That amendment states that public funds shall not be expended, paid or granted to or on behalf of an existing or proposed research project that involves abortion services, human cloning, or prohibited human research as defined by state statute.
“The MOSIRA legislation ranks up there with some of the most complicated dynamics as far as legislative initiatives that we have had to address over the last quarter century,” said Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and a 27-year veteran in the state’s pro-life policy debates. “The complication of the issue and the way lawmakers perceive the issue, the way a variety of citizen groups perceive the issue, whether they are right or wrong, perception is a difficult subject to deal with.
The MOSIRA legislation invokes highly complicated mixtures of political and social dynamics, and it is one of the more difficult issues that we have ever had to deal with.”
Much like a mosaic, with varying shades of color, or a quilt, with blocks, borders, binding, and stitching, the present MOSIRA situation is complex. Messer noted that the application of sound public policy must be filtered through the Gospel with all of its beauty, majesty, and Kingly power.
“It is of the utmost importance that Missouri Baptists represent righteousness, which means we not only need to encourage lawmakers to adopt the appropriate pro-life restrictions on any questionable legislation, but we need to make sure that it’s the appropriate way to do it, that our approach to individual lawmakers, and that our approach in general to addressing issues of concern with lawmakers, that our approach itself brings glory to God,” Messer said.
“We need to be very mindful and conscientious that our demeanor, our tone, our volume, and our expressions of love, even if it’s in a mode of correction, are done in a Christ-like manner. You do not represent Christ by bullying, you do not represent Christ by making unreasonable demands, but you don’t represent Christ by compromising important principles either. All in all, lobbying the Legislature is a much more difficult and complicated process than people who don’t do it will ever understand, just like pastoring a church is much more complicated and difficult and heart-wrenching than the average lay person will ever understand.”
According to Fred Sauer of Missouri Roundtable for Life, MOSIRA is a scheme to fund science special interests. A percentage of growth in state revenue from a designated group of Missouri science and innovation companies would be transferred into a fund administered by the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC), according to the governor’s office. The MTC was recently headed by the chief spokesperson for the campaign to pass Amendment 2, which created a constitutional entitlement to human cloning in 2006, Sauer said.
It is one thing to lobby the Senate, Messer said, where an elite club of 34 is more like a family. It is an entirely different matter to lobby the House, where 163 representatives, most of them pro-life, may have various individual ways and means of expressing their solidarity for the God-given sanctity of humanity in the form of tiny God-created embryos that deserve to be defended.
“Some legislators don’t even know who all their other 162 colleagues are,” Messer said. “Some of them have never had personal conversations with other lawmakers from other corners of the state, and their lives are so busy, they may not ever get around to having a personal conversation with all their colleagues in the House. You would have that interaction in the Senate among every member of the Senate every two or three weeks no matter how radically different they are from one another. There are many other dynamics that totally change how you will handle the pro-life concerns on MOSIRA in the House. But those concerns still remain.
“There’s no such thing as perfect legislation. There’s no such thing as a perfect amendment, but we have to strive to protect life as much as we possibly can and do so in a way that upholds our ambassadorship of Christ. Ultimately, our carrying the Gospel message to these lawmakers trumps any issue out there. As important as pro-life is, it’s not more important than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That does not mean we compromise pro-life. I’m not saying that. I’m saying, as I represent Missouri Baptists, I am committed to represent Jesus Christ and the Gospel that He brings to all of us, and representing Missouri Baptists second. Under that umbrella, pro-life is the most important issue we have to fight for.”
Messer said Missouri Baptist lobbyists are concentrating on two other bills during the special session. One involves the extension of the pregnancy resource center tax credits beyond the current expiration date of Dec. 31, 2012. The other is a revision of the Facebook law concerning social media contact between teachers and students.
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor