Zero surgical abortions reported in December, but ‘innocent lives at risk’
ST. LOUIS – The Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis is no longer performing surgical abortions. Effectively, this makes Missouri the first state to be free of surgical abortions since the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision 48 years ago.
While Missouri Baptist leaders and pro-life advocates are cheering this milestone, the situation remains dire for many Missouri women and their unborn babies.
A Jan. 5 report by the Kansas-based Operation Rescue claims that Missouri is “in practice” free of surgical abortions. The same group, however, noted in another study that, while surgical abortions nationally are declining, the use of abortion pills are on the rise throughout the U.S.
The Reproductive Health Services Planned Parenthood in St. Louis is the only clinic in Missouri that is open and legally able to perform abortions. However, in recent months the staff there has been referring women to its 18,000-square-foot “clinic” across the Mississippi river from St. Louis in Fairview Heights, Ill. Pro-life advocates have noted Illinois has significantly fewer safety regulations, making it much easier for Planned Parenthood to operate there than in Missouri.
Susan Klein, executive director of Missouri Right to Life and a member of Cedar Grove Baptist Church, Holts Summit, said her office is still seeking confirmation of the Operation Rescue Report, but she prays it is a fact.
“We have all worked so hard for this day when the lives of these unborn babies are protected from the horrors of abortion and respected in the public policies of our state,” she said. “We do know for a fact that the surgical abortions performed in the State of Missouri from January 2020 through November 15 of 2020 were reported to be 39. That is down from 1,471 in 2019. We also know that there were no abortions done at the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in December. God has and is blessing our work.”
Bonnie Lee, a registered nurse, pro-life advocate and member of Open Heart Baptist Church, Columbia, calls that decline in abortions “The Missouri Miracle.” Also a Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board member, she has been a long-time organizer of pro-life events and a constant prayer warrior at abortion facilities.
“We’ve been praying that Missouri would be the first abortion-free state,” she said. “We take great pride and joy that God is faithful.”
John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, praised the work of Baptists and pro-life leaders which he said led to the dramatic drop in abortions.
“We are thrilled that Planned Parenthood and any other abortion providers are frustrated with the health and safety regulations adopted in Missouri,” he said. “Public policy matters dealing with moral and social issues take incredible teamwork for a long time to come to fruition. Missouri Baptists have been part of a groundswell of people in our state who have worked hard to elect convictional pro-life state representatives, state senators and governors to stem the tide of the American Holocaust.”
Despite rejoicing over the drastic decline of abortions within Missouri’s borders, Klein noted that Missouri women are still being pointed toward abortion facilities in Kansas and Illinois. Yet she still believes Missouri’s laws and public policy play a key role in championing life.
For example, when referring women to an out-of-state abortion facility, Missouri abortion staff are required by state law to provide the same informed consent information. That information includes a description of the proposed abortion method, the immediate and long-term medical risks to the woman associated with the proposed abortion and alternatives to the abortion.
“We know that this is brought about by our protective legislation, pro-life witness at abortion facilities, assistance given at pregnancy centers and pro-life education,” Klein said. “We must continue to work to pass pro-life legislation that has led us to where we are. Now is not the time to rest easy. Our world and work is about to get more complicated and innocent little lives are going to be at great risk even more. So, take time to celebrate the decreasing numbers, keep praying and then get back to work. Our job is not done.”
MBC President Jon Nelson said to the Convention’s pro-life position is one reason his congregation, SOMA Community Church in Jefferson City, joined the work of Missouri Baptists.
“The MBC has been extremely involved and effective in opposing abortion efforts in the state. As the father of biological and adopted children, I appreciate those stances,” he said. “Missouri Baptists know that every life is precious, and I’m grateful for every unborn life that is saved, especially through amazing agencies like our Children’s Home.”
Yeats noted that the MBC operates two crisis pregnancy centers, an adoption agency and a ministry for physically and sexually abused women through its Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.
“Some of those yet-to-be-born children could have been rescued if their mothers had examined her options and resources at one of the crisis pregnancy centers scattered across the state where caring people would do their very best to love her and her child,” he said. “Response to abortion cannot be merely our protests and public policy but also compassionately comprehensive.”
While Missouri’s General Assembly is in the opening stages its 2021 session, Klein said the possibility of no abortions in the state must not lull Missouri Baptists to inaction.
“As many of you have said, God gets the glory for this,” she said. “We must remain vigilant in our work to protect innocent human lives from inception to natural death. And, we must remain vigilant in our reporting of the truth.”