Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News February 2, 2009
Supermajority of House Members Sign Anti-FOCA Resolution
An impressive majority of the members of the Missouri House of Representatives have added their names to a resolution expressing strong objection to the proposed "Freedom of Choice Act," commonly referred to as FOCA.  That proposal, promoted by President Obama, would make abortion on demand a fundamental right, and strike down all state laws protecting women and unborn children.  111 members of the House* (listed at end of this column) signed on to House Resolution 294, which if passed, would be forwarded to the President, and leaders in the United States Congress.  The resolution, sponsored by Representative Bob Dixon of Springfield, declares
that FOCA "will protect and promote the abortion industry, endanger women and their health..and silence the voices of Americans who want to engage in a meaningful public discussion [of] the availability, safety, and desirability of abortion."  If your state representative is among those listed below, please thank him or her for standing up for the unborn.  If your state legislator is not among those listed, please  pray that they will be persuaded of the reckless and dangerous consequences of FOCA.
A similar resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, has been introduced in the Missouri Senate by Senator Matt Bartle of Lee's Summit.  We are pleased to report that Senator Eric Schmitt of Glendale has joined the 21 other members of the Senate who previously co-sponsored this resolution.       
House Democrats Say No to FOCA
Twenty-five Democratic members of the Missouri House have signed a letter to the United States Congress calling for defeat of the proposed "Freedom
of Choice Act."  The letter says that FOCA would have "dramatic and negative effects on...unborn children, women facing difficult our untimely pregnancies, and alternative to abortion programs."  The joint letter was organized by Democrats for Life Chairman Representative
Belinda Harris
of Hillsboro and Representative Rachel Bringer of Palmyra.  The letter will be mailed to leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, and to members of Missouri's congressional delegation. 
Governor Keeps Abortion Alternatives Funding
Governor Jay Nixon released his first annual budget proposal last Tuesday, and it contained good news for those in the pro-life community directly assisting pregnant women and children.  The Governor recommended maintaining full funding for the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion (ATA) Program at nearly $2 million.  The ATA program supports a wide range of services to pregnant women to assist them in carrying their child to term or placing their child for adoption.  The state works with many local pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes to provide these services.  The Governor's decison was a significant one, in that his budget included many program cuts and the elimination of more than 1000 jobs in state agencies.  Hopefully, this is a sign that the Governor, who is a supporter of legalized abortion, will support further efforts to inform women of the alternatives to abortion.   You can thank the Governor by writing him at P.O. Box 720, Jefferson City, MO  65102.
*Sponsors of House Resolution 294
Representatives Sue Allen, Joe Aull, Kenny Biermann, Walt Bivins, Ellen Brandom, Rachel Bringer, Dan Brown, Jason Brown, Mark Bruns, Eric Burlison, ron Casey, Wayne Cooper, Stanley Cox, Mike Cunningham, Cynthia Davis, David Day, Bill Deeken, Charlie Denison, Mike Dethrow, Scott Dieckhaus, John Diehl, Curt Dougherty, Tony Dugger, Gary Dusenberg, Ed Emery, Doug Ervin, Sally Faith, Joe Fallert, Barney Fisher, Tom Flanigan, Tim Flook, Doug Funderburk, Linda Fischer, Ward Franz, Chuck Gatschenberger, Jeff Grisamore, Casey Guernsey, Jim Guest, Belinda Harris, Steve Hobbs, Steve Hodges, Denny Hoskins, Jacob Hummel, Allen Icet, Kenny Jones, Tim Jones, Shelleey Keeney,  Gayle Kingery, Andrew Koenig, Michele Kratky, Will Kraus, J. C. Kuessner, Mike Lair, Mike Leara,  Al Liese, Scott Lipke, Tom Loehner, Mike McGhee, Cole McNary, Tim Meadows, Kathleen Meiners, Chris Molendorp, Brian Munzlinger, Brian Nieves, Jerry Nolte, Bob Nance, Mark Parkinson, Mike Parson, Darrell Pollock, Bryan Pratt, Paul Quinn, Ron Richard, Jeanie Riddle, Marilyn Ruestman, Don Ruzicka, Ray Salva, Therese Sander, David Sater, Rob Schaaf, Rodney Schad, Dwight Scharnhorst, Ed Schieffer, Charles Schlottach, Shane Schoeller, Sue Schoemehl, Tom Self, Tom Shively, Ryan Silvey, Jason Smith, Joe Smith, Michael Spreng, Bryan Stevenson, Rick Stream, Michael Sutherland, Terry Swinger, Mike Thomson, Steve Tilley, Clint Tracy, James Viebrock, Jay Wasson, Don Wells, Ray Weter, Kevin Wilson, Larry Wilson, Dennis Wood, Billy Pat Wright, Maynard Wallace, Patricia Yaeger, Brian Yates, Anne Zerr   
Legislators Propose Religious Freedom Amendments
Proposed amendents to the Missouri Constitution to protect the religous freedoms of Missouri citizens have been introduced in the State Legislature.  These amendments would guarantee schoolchildren the right to pray voluntarily in public schools.  They also would assure all citizens the right to pray and acknowledge God in public proceedings and on public property.  If approved by the Missouri Legislature, such an amendment would be placed on a statewide ballot for ratification by the voters.
In recent years, organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State have waged an intense battle to strike all references or acknowlegements of God from the public square.  They claim that the so-called separation of church and state requires that any form of religious expression be forbidden in government, public schools, public institutions, and in public discourse.  Anti-religious extremists have even tried to remove "God" from the pledge of allegiance, "In God We Trust" from our currency, and the Bible from the President's recent inauguration. 
Regrettably, the U.S. Supreme Court has distorted the First Amendment to the Constitution in ways that contradict our Founding Fathers, and which inhibit the free exercise of religion.  Yet even our nation's highest court has agreed that government cannot suppress religious speech by engaging in viewpoint discrimination.  Atheist organizations like the ACLU and the AUSCS have insisted that government must be hostile to religious expression, rather than adopt a position of neutrality as enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court.  
Senator Delbert Scott of Lowry City is the sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 12.  "Freedom of speech and expression is one of our fundamental rights upheld in our country's Constitution," Scott says.  "Despite this amendment that has been established since 1791, there has been some confusion in terms of expressing religion in Missouri schools."
The language of the proposed constitutional amendment states that "citizens...elected officials and employees...shall have the right to pray and acknowledge God and express their religious beliefs on government premises and public property so long as such prayers and other expressons abide by the same parameters placed upon any other speech under similar circumstances."  It also provides that ministers may offer invocations at public meetings, a practice regulary under attack by the ACLU and their allies.  It specifies that not only may students pray on a voluntary basis in public schools, but they may express their religious beliefs in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work. 
Representative Mike McGhee of Odessa has filed a companion proposal, House Joint Resolution 11, in the Missouri House.  Representative McGhee sponsored a similar joint resolution last legislative session, which passed overwhelmingly in the House, but was not taken up by the Senate before the close of session.
These amendments were drafted to assure that Missouri's Constitution is not interpreted by state courts in a manner that is adverse to religious freedom.  Placing this language in the Constitution will also equip school and government officials with clear rules of practice when they are intimidated and threatened by the enemies of religious liberty for allowing religious expression. 
Much of the language in each of these joint resolutions was developed by the Missouri Family Policy Council.  We want to thank Senator Scott and Representative McGhee for working closely with us in formulating these proposals, and for their excellent moral leadership in championing the spiritual prerogatives of Missouri families and citizens.
In a press release announcing his sponsorship of this proposal, Senator Scott made this comment:  "Before the start of each legislative workday, my colleagues and I begin with a special prayer.  I could not imagine having restrictions in regard to sharing in God's grace before discussing and debating on the important and difficult issues facing our state."
We could not say it any better.