While Gov. Mike Parson and members of the Missouri General Assembly deserve much praise in their steadfast opposition to relicensing the controversial Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, one name that does not garner near the accolades deserved is that of Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), which issues the licenses for all health care facilities in Missouri. Williams, a man of deep faith, is an Ob-Gyn with more than 30 years of training in healthcare for pregnant women. This is a man of immense intellect and one who is committed to protecting the health and safety of Missouri women.
Williams’ recommendation not to relicense the Planned Parenthood clinic, one affirmed by the governor, is the right decision. The Planned Parenthood Clinic in St. Louis has had multiple deficiency reports since 2017 that threatened the health of the women. Many of these reports were withheld from the public eye by St. Louis Judge Michael Stelzer, who was appointed by former Democrat Gov. Bob Holden. No doubt they were withheld due to the incriminating nature of the reports. More than 70 emergency vehicles at the clinic have been documented by the St. Louis Fire Department. One such deficiency report found by DHSS investigators included this detail following a “failed” abortion: “Deviation from standard care that resulted in a patient becoming hospitalized and listed as in ‘critically ill’ as she lost more than two liters of blood and needed a uterine artery embolization.”
So much for safe and legal.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Solicitor General John Sauer and a talented group of attorneys have backed Williams and DHSS investigators. Their persistence in fighting Planned Parenthood in Missouri courts is commendable. While it is unclear where the legal fight will end, some think the Missouri Supreme Court could be the place.
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All year I have occasionally written about the Missouri Non-discrimination Act (MONA) and the threat it presents to Missouri churches, faith-based institutions and businesses. The bill was heard in a House committee, but was never voted on. The Senate declined to give it a committee hearing. I represented Missouri Southern Baptists in opposing this freedom-threatening bill. I thank lawmakers for making the wise decision to not let this pernicious piece of legislation reach the House or Senate floors for debate, much less a vote. MONA is not going away and will require vigilance.
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I do not understand Christians who think followers of Christ should not be involved in public policy. For example, take the vote by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) messengers in Birmingham, Ala., to amend the SBC’s bylaws to repurpose the SBC’s Credentials Committee to make inquiries and recommendations for actions regarding instances of sexual abuse, racism or other issues that call a church’s relationship with the SBC into question. Questions have been raised on whether a defamation lawsuit judgment against a church or the SBC could threaten Cooperative Program dollars.
The Texas legislature recently passed House Bill 4345, making charitable organizations and their employees or volunteers immune from civil liability for good-faith disclosure to an individual’s current or prospective employer information reasonably believed to be true about allegations that the individual, while an employee or volunteer of the organization, engaged in sexual misconduct, sexually abused another individual, sexually harassed another individual or otherwise committed a sexual offense or an offense of public indecency. The Missouri Baptist Convention is studying the Texas legislation and is crafting a similar bill that could be presented to leaders of the Missouri General Assembly in December.
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Some new terms have entered the lexicon of the rank-and-file in the Missouri Baptist Convention: “Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.” I know, just reading it makes my head hurt, too. It has been the subject of on-going debate among scholars and to be honest, I have preferred to leave it there. But in its “wisdom,” the Resolutions Committee decided to move it out of the scholarly realm and into churches. The Pathway will do its best to help you understand the debate that will continue until the annual meeting in Orlando next year (see page 10).
Let us encourage one another to be Christ-like in our demeanor and with our words as we rightly engage on this important matter. Let’s listen before we draw conclusions or take necessary action. May we follow the instruction of the Apostle Paul that he provided to the church in Thessalonica: “But examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (I Thess. 5:21-22).