The Republican dominated Missouri Senate is being called out by the Missouri Right to Life organization. The group released a statement which singled out the chamber for failing to act on pro-life legislation.
Missouri Right to Life President Steve Rupp said “Pro-life people of faith and values who went to the polls in November to elect pro-life leaders expect more!”
The release mentioned the need for legislation after St. Louis declared itself a sanctuary city for abortions, and after a federal court ruling which will allow Planned Parenthood to expand access to abortions in Missouri.
Two bills favored by the organization were approved by the House, but failed to reach the Senate floor in the final weeks and days of the congested and drama filled session.
One would have nullified a discrimination ordinance in St, Louis that bans employers from firing, refusing to hire, or disciplining women based on a person’s reproductive health decisions or pregnancy status. The other one has several components, but chiefly requires all fetal tissue from an abortion to be sent to a pathologist who must give an estimation of how far the pregnancy had progressed when the procedure was done.
House Republican Diane Franklin of Camdenton, who sponsored her chamber’s version of the measure, says it’s meant to prevent trafficking of baby body parts.
“What this is really targeted to see is if it is of the age where you can identify the parts of the body” said Franklin. And let’s say the liver is not present when the pathologist receives it. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Among other things, the bill offers employment protections for whistle-blowers who report trafficking of baby body parts. It also prohibits fetal tissue from being donated for any reason except to determine the cause of illness or death of a fetus or for law enforcement purposes.
In addition, it calls for the Department of Health and Senior Services to perform random inspections of abortion clinics. Franklin says this provision is the result of previous inspections by the department showing lack of cleanliness and sterilization of instruments.
“What we’re looking for here is to do unannounced inspections, so they’re not prepared for them…to come in and see ‘Has that been reconciled. Is it now a very clean and safe environment for this procedure to take place in.’”
Finally, the measure changes the definition of “remains of a human fetus” to be the remains of the dead offspring of a human being. “It’s just to give a true definition of what has happened” said Franklin. “It’s been a loss of life, of human life.”
Susan Kline with Missouri Right to Life said the Senate’s lack of action is especially frustrating given there are Republican super majorities in the legislature and Governor Greitens has given strong vocal support for both abortion bills.
“We know we have the pro-life votes,” said Kline. “We know that a majority of the Senators wanted these issues to come up. There is no excuse for not passing a pro-life bill”.
The organization is plotting its next moves after U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs invalidated two Missouri laws – one requiring abortion clinics to meet standards for surgical centers, the other for their doctors to have hospital admitting privileges.
The court action will allow Planned Parenthood facilities in Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield and Joplin to start performing abortions. Kline says the judge’s ruling, coupled with the new discrimination ordinance in St. Louis should have provided enough urgency for the Senate to take up the legislation.
“We live in a pro-life Missouri. The majority of Missourians are pro-life. They want to see action on these two bills. Obviously we expect our leaders to step out and take leadership on that.”
Kline is confident the legislation will clear the legislature in the next session in 2018 if not sooner. Franklin said it would be appropriate to bring up her far reaching abortion bill in a special session of the legislature if the votes are there to ensure its passage.
Governor Greitens has indicated that calling for a special session is something he’s considering.