On May 30 I had the pleasure of meeting with Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones. In April, the Eureka Republican – in a remarkable visit to the Baptist Building – spoke to the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board. His remarks were informative and warmly received, despite being a new name on the Missouri political scene to some. I was unable to attend because of my kidney surgery, so the occasion to visit with him – at his invitation – at his office was a welcomed opportunity.
His office is on the third floor of the Capitol at the end of the hall. Upon entering the reception area your eyes are drawn to the windows where you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Missouri River. His personal office is dark wood, paneled throughout. It looks like someone uses furniture polish on it every day. Not a speck of dust to be seen. Being a military veteran, I liked it. His office is not cluttered with mementos, but is tastefully decorated, befitting a person holding such a public leadership position. We sat at a conference table for our visit.
Having observed the 2013 session of the General Assembly, I was impressed with Jones’ leadership. He does not come across heavy-handed and egotistical, but he is energetic, decisive and packs plenty of guts in his diminutive frame (think Jay Scribner). Not a wrinkle can be found on his person. He fits perfectly in a suit and tie, always clean shaven with every hair on his head in place. All this fades when he flashes his big smile, extends a greeting hand and then begins to speak to the matter.
Jones, a devout Catholic and champion of pro-life, pro-family legislation, was upbeat and seemed genuinely pleased to see Missouri Right to Life’s legislative representative Susan Klein (the wife of a Southern Baptist pastor) and myself. The reason for our visit – at the Speaker’s invitation – was to witness the signing of House Bill 400, which bans “telemedicine” abortions.
Sponsored by Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane), it bans non-surgical abortions that use the drug RU-486. In Iowa, pregnant women are being offered RU-486 through “telemedicine,” in which pregnant women speak to a physician via video-conferencing and RU-486 is dispensed automatically out of the drawer of a machine at the remote location in which the woman finds herself. The House Bill 400 prevents abortion clinics from being set up in remote locations throughout Missouri in order to perform “telemedicine” abortions. It also requires a physician be present to administer RU-486. As the medical profession moves toward less invasive surgeries, this type of abortion becomes more prevalent.
House Bill 400 passed overwhelmingly by the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate. All Missouri pro-life organizations, including the MBC, led by legislative liaison Kerry Messer, deserve credit for educating the lawmakers and helping craft bills like House Bill 400 so they could pass – some with veto-proof majorities.
Under the leadership of Jones and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), five other pro-life bills were passed this session, including measures that:
Provide protection to pharmacy owners not to be forced to stock any drug or device, including abortion drugs.
Restore tax credits for people donating to agencies offering alternatives to abortion.
Extend the safe place for newborn drop-off from five days to 45 days and expanding the list of places for drop-off to include maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers.
Insert pro-life protective language in “Missouri Works,” an economic development program.
Renew funding for alternatives to abortion agencies in the Office of Administration budget.
Include pro-life protective language on House Bill 7, which funds the Department of Economic Development ensuring that the Missouri Technology Corporation will not be able to use these public funds on human cloning and research that destroys human life.
In addition to Riddle, other House and Senate members who sponsored these bills included: Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau), who sponsored Riddle’s bill in the Senate; Sens. David Sater (R-Cassville), Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), Ron Richard (R-Joplin), Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) and Reps. Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia) and Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood). Missouri lawmakers, at the urging of pro-life and pro-family groups, are consistently passing legislation that places greater restrictions on abortion, making our state one of the most pro-life in the nation. Praise be to God! Thousands of babies, otherwise earmarked for death, have been saved by the growing deterrence these laws have placed on the abortion industry. Our lawmakers who have supported these measures deserve our thanks and continued prayers.
I came away from my visit with Speaker Jones thankful for his graciousness to me and his attentiveness to matters that saves lives and protects families. He is an example of why Christians must be involved in public policy. Not for power or fame. Not to create a theocracy. Our involvement in public policy is to bring honor and glory to God. It can reap results, like House Bill 400, that also benefit the common good. After all, God’s way is the best way.