Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News May 11, 2009
Enters Home Stretch
The Missouri General Assembly concludes its business this week as this year's legislative session comes to an end at 6:00 PM on Friday.  With just five days left for final passage of bills, the prognosis for pro-family legislation has become pretty clear.  Proposals to restrict the operation of sexually-oriented businesses appear to be dead.  A constitutional amendment to protect the religious liberties of Missouri citizens has a very slim chance of passage.  The good news is that the prospects for passage of substantive pro-life legislation is still very promising.  A comprehensive pro-life bill passed by the House, House Committee Substitute for House Bills 46 & 434, is awaiting debate on the Senate calendar.  The measure would strengthen considerably the state's informed consent law, and would make it a crime to coerce a woman to have an abortion.  The major provision of the bill would provide women seeking abortion with the opportunity to see an ultrasound of their child or to hear their baby's heartbeat.  Passage of this bill will not occur unless the Senate defuses a filibuster by pro-abortion senators.  We urge you one more time to contact your state senator by phone or e-mail, and encourage them to take up and pass the "pro-life ultrasound bill."  You can find contact info for your state senator at www.senate.mo.gov
Please be praying for Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields and Senate Majority Leader Kevin Engler, that they will have the conviction and the boldness to stand up for life in the waning hours of this year's session.
Rejected by Legislature
While the homosexual movement has been making major waves with recent news out of Iowa and New England, the homosexual agenda made little headway in Missouri state government this session.  Bills filed this year to provide special righs for homosexuals have failed to win support in the General Assembly.  Legislaton filed in the Missouri Senate by Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City, Senate Bill 109, would add so-called sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination law.  The bill, which was co-sponsored by five other senators, was heard in the Senate Progress and Development Committee.  However, the committee chose not to take any vote on the proposal.   The measure did not include any exception for churches, Christian ministries, or Christian employers.  A companion proposal, House Bill 701, was filed in that chamber by Representative Mike Talboy of Kansas City. Rep. Talboy's bill was never referred to a committee, and thus was never discussed by House members. It was quite disturbing to see that House Bill 701 was co-sponsored by 53 state representatives, all of them Democrats.   Were the House to be in control by Democratic leadership, it is almost certain that such a bill would receive very serious consideration, with three-quarters of existing Democratic House members supporting it.   Please be praying that our legislators will have the courage to defend traditional values and Biblical principles.
Springfield to Host Family Champion Conference
Springfield, Missouri will be the site of a Focus on the Family conference designed to strengthen family ministry in churches.  The program is known as Family Champion Training, and is a six-week campaign to be implemented in the church setting.  The program seeks to strengthen families by challenging them to become the primary teachers of the faith in their homes.  Families are taught to examine their own family journey, and to develop a written spiritual development plan.  Pastors are encouraged to recruit and coach "family champions" who will work to build and nurture faith in the home.  The Family Champion Training Conference will be held at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield on Saturday, June 13th.  For more information, visit this Focus on the Family link:  www.church.family.org
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Missouri Legislature Boosts Funding for Alternatives to Abortion
Alternatives to abortion programs in Missouri received a big boost in the budget adopted by the State Legislature for the coming fiscal year.  The General Assembly allocated a minimum of $2 million in new funding to be made available to pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes.  This appropriation doubles the state resources committed to alternatives to abortion programs.
The funds were included in the $23 billion budget adopted by state legislators last week for fiscal  year 2010, which begins on July 1st.  The additional appropriation for abortion alternative programs was drawn from federal "stimulus" funds allocated to the the State of Missouri under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The budget already included nearly $2 million for such programs recommended by Governor Jay Nixon.
"These pro-life lawmakers should be applauded for the creative use of federal stimulus dollars to help the most vulnerable citizens of our state--the unborn and their mothers who are under tremendous pressure to have abortions," says Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri.  "We are hoping these monies can be used by maternity homes for capital improvements, or by pregnancy help centers for rent and utility payments for clients, or for other uses that will help pregnant women at risk for abortions receive the support they need."
Lee promoted the idea of capturing federal stimulus dollars for the benefit of pro-life agencies.  He worked with Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network to convince budget committee members and legislative leaders of the merits of the idea.
The Missouri Alternatives to Abortion (ATA) Program was created by the General Assembly in 2007, and was strongly supported by the Blunt administration.   The program is designed to assist pregnant women in carrying their children to term or placing them for adoption.  The ATA program also assists women in caring for their newborn child for one year after birth.  Operation of the program is administered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 
To be eligible for the program, a woman must have income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. 
Funds available in the program may be used for a wide range of services to pregnant women and children, including prenatal care, medical and mental health care, infant care and child care, and food, clothing, and supplies related to pregnancy.  The program also offers vital support services for pregnant women including housing, utilities, educational services, job training and placement, transportation, and domestic abuse protection.
The Department of Health and Senior Services is authorized to contract with maternity homes, pregnancy resource centers, and crisis pregnancy centers to provide eligible services.  State law prohibits the grant of funds to any organization that performs abortions, or refers clients for abortions.
There are more than 40 private agencies in Missouri assisting women to make healthy decisions for themselves and their unborn babies, most of them members of the Missouri Alliance for Life.  They include pregnancy resource centers such as LifeChoices in Joplin, Rachel House in the Kansas City area, Pregnancy Care Center in the Springfield area, and Thrive PRC in the St. Louis area.
Twenty four member agencies of the Missouri Alliance for Life received alternatives to abortion funding last year.  Pregnancy resource centers  served nearly 20,000 clients during 2008.  Maternity homes provided housing for 189 women and their children.  42 children were placed for adoption.
Many pregnancy resource centers have adopted a medical model in recent years, and have ultrasound machines on site.  Over 2700 ultrasounds were performed at these centers during the last calendar year, and the number keeps growing. 
The work of pregnancy resource centers is primarily conducted by vounteers.  Over 85% of the workers in these facilities across the state are volunteers.  Please be praying in thanksgiving for the generous hearts of these volunteers who provide hope and the Good News of God's love to numerous women each year.
For more information about the Missouri Alliance for Life, you can visit their web site by clicking this link:  www.allianceforlifemissouri.com
For more information about the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Services Program, go to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website at www.dhss.mo.gov  Once there, locate the Alternatives to Abortion program under the A-Z directory.
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