The Missouri House of Representatives has bolstered an omnibus pro-life bill being debated in the Missouri Legislature in order to help prevent the trafficking of the body parts of unborn children who have been aborted.
Last week the House adopted a more comprehensive version of a bill previously approved by the Missouri Senate in response to a special session call by Governor Eric Greitens. The Governor issued the call for an extraordinary session to deal with a number of issues involving abortion regulation and conscience rights.
The legislation adopted by the Senate failed to deal in any substantive way with the handling and disposal of fetal tissue from the remains of preborn children who have been victims of abortion. That issue has taken on national significance with the revelation that Planned Parenthood employees and contractors have been engaged in the illegal sale of body parts of aborted unborn children.
A series of undercover videos recorded by a group called The Center for Medical Progress showed that doctors for Planned Parenthood are performing late-term abortions in a fashion that they are able to preserve intact the brains and vital organs of the child being aborted. The videos further revealed Planned Parenthood officials seeking to maximize the profits they could make from selling specific organs and tissue in demand by medical research firms.
Missouri law is currently deficient in dealing with the baby body parts controversy. Current state statutes require that an abortion clinic submit “a representative sample” of fetal tissue to a pathologist following an abortion. This allows Planned Parenthood to dispose of most of the body parts of a preborn child who has been dismembered as they choose.
Pro-life advocates in Missouri have reason to be alarmed about the open door the law provides to allow Planned Parenthood to market and merchandise the body parts of unborn children aborted at their St. Louis clinic. In the very first video released by the Center for Medical Progress, St. Louis was described as an “untapped supplier” for fetal tissue including intact vital organs.
Last week the Missouri House voted to close the massive loophole regarding fetal tissue disposal in state law. The House adopted a substitute for the Senate bill that would require that all fetal tissue removed at the time of an abortion shall be submitted within five days to a board certified pathologist. That pathologist must then file a tissue report concerning that abortion to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The pathologist must examine the tissue to identify any evidence of an incomplete abortion.
Representative Diane Franklin of Camdenton was the handler of the House substitute for the Senate bill. Representative Franklin has been a legislative leader in efforts to address the baby body parts issue, and had chaired a special interim committee studying fetal tissue disposal practices in Missouri. The substitute advanced by the Children and Families Committee that she chairs was approved on a vote of 110-38, and now returns to the Senate for approval or for negotiation in a conference committee.
The House bill retained sections approved by the Senate providing explicit protections in Missouri law for pregnancy resource centers. Those provisions would prohibit local governments from regulating the counseling, education, or information provided by crisis pregnancy centers to their clients.
That language is intended to pre-empt local ordinances which are designed to undermine the mission and operation of alternatives to abortion agencies. A wave of laws are being adopted across the country which compel crisis pregnancy centers to promote abortion as an option for an unintended pregnancy and to refer women to local “reproductive health ” facilities for abortions.
The State of Illinois recently adopted such a law which is now being challenged in court by 18 different pregnancy resource centers in Illinois.
Governor Greitens applauded the House and Senate action on this subject. “We always want to make sure we find a way to protect life. These pregnancy care centers do fantastic work on behalf of pregnant women and children all over the State of Missouri. They work with women who survive domestic violence, women who have been kicked out of their homes, and they make sure that they get free medical care after their children are born, and that they have access to education, shelter, and job training to help these families get a good start in life.”
Both the House and Senate versions of the pro-life bill contain language intended to override major portions of a recent human rights ordinance adopted by the City of St. Louis. That ordinance amended the city’s anti- discrimination regulations to ban discrimination based on so-called “reproductive decisions.” Pro-life opponents contend the scope of the ordinance would turn St. Louis into a “sanctuary city” for abortion.
The special session legislation would preclude local governments from requiring a person “to directly or indirectly participate in abortion if such participation is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such person.” The Archdiocese of St. Louis has already filed suit against the St. Louis ordinance in federal court.
You can learn how your state representative voted on the pro-life bill in Jefferson City in the sidebar story.