Bodies were curled-up on the floor. Not in the condition and location where one would expect to find people in their State Capitol. Yet it was understandable given that it was 4 a.m., following 20 hours in which we had prayed, encouraged one another and urged senators to save the lives of Missouri’s unborn. So it was for everyone in Missouri’s pro-life movement in the pre-dawn hours of May 16.
The hallways of the Missouri Senate sporadically erupted with activity, triggered by Republican senators emerging from closed door caucuses. Most exited without making eye contact or saying a word. One senator looked at me, shook my hand, but kept walking, never uttering a word.
Armed with a super majority, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan), Floor Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) and Sen. Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester) who was charged with navigating the bill through the Senate, made beelines to Democrat leadership offices. Their mission: find a way to prevent a filibuster that would have ground to a halt all Senate activity. Other important legislation remained unfinished – just hours from the constitutionally required 6 p.m., May 17 deadline. Filibustering was the only leverage the Senate’s 10 pro-choice Democrats had – or so some thought.
It was distressingly surreal as pro-life lobbyists and supporters anxiously awaited word. Rumors swirled, putting everyone on an hour-by-hour emotional rollercoaster. Unfortunately, things were said by all of us involved that are best attributed to “the fog of war.” The Senate’s “pro-life Lion,” Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis), tried to keep us updated and even his emotions got the best of him as he unleashed an emotional outburst on the Senate floor when the bill finally arrived for debate and a vote (he later apologized as did many people involved, including me). It has been said lawmaking is like making sausage, but this was spiritual warfare at its zenith.
Senators hustled to and fro like frantic physicians in a mass casualty emergency room. Given what was at stake, it was. Lurking nearby were the cloning lobbyists, lusting for the tissue of aborted babies.
Some pro-life supporters heard what was happening at the State Capitol, arriving at midnight to find the battle raging. Then, with the love of Christ, ventured out into the cool darkness to fetch food for some of us who had nothing to eat since the previous morning. The tacos were like manna from heaven.
I have had the privilege of getting to know most of the 34 members of the Missouri Senate. They are fine folks and honorable public servants. They have passed a lot of laws that have proven beneficial to Missourians. But, I doubt they have ever produced a bill like the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,” which passed the Senate and House on May 17. The political leadership demonstrated by so many members of the General Assembly are too many to mention in this column. The legislative leadership demonstrated by Schatz, Rowden and Koenig in the Senate was masterful. As the fog lifted, they emerged with the House bill passed – and even added a provision, thanks to Sen. Eric Burlison (R-Springfield), that removes the sunset requirement for tax credits for Pregnancy Resource Centers while raising the amount of tax credit from 50 percent to 70 percent. Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield), and bill sponsors Reps. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon), Adam Schnelting (R-St. Charles) and Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold) did a terrific job getting the bill through the House and onto the governor’s desk. Friends, from a pure legislative and political perspective, what they accomplished was spectacular.
The bill, signed into law May 24 by Gov. Mike Parson (I had the privilege of attending the historic signing), is being hailed as one of the strongest pro-life laws in the nation. No doubt, it will be challenged in federal court. Some – maybe even most – of it may stand and, in a few years, eventually work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That is the hope and perhaps Roe v. Wade will finally have its day of reckoning.
The United States government attempted to push God aside, legalizing abortion with the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the killing will likely continue in states like New York, California, Virginia, Vermont and soon, Illinois and Kansas. The dead now totals 60 million American babies – and counting. God will never be pleased with America until the killing stops. Let us pray and work toward the day when abortion is rejected and even outlawed – to the glory of God.