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Missouri Family E-News February 1, 2010
Senate Committee Advances Bill Regulating Sex Businesses
A Missouri Senate committee has given quick approval to legislation which would regulate the operation of sexually oriented businesses in Missouri. 
The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 5-2 to endorse the legislation.  The substitute bill combined measures introduced by Senator Matt Bartle of Lee's Summit and Senator Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon. 
Senators Jane Cunningham, Kurt Schaefer, Eric Schmitt, and Senators Bartle and Goodman voted to advance the bill for debate by the full Senate.  Senators Jolie Justus and Joe Keaveny voted against it. 
The bill approved by the committee would restrict the operation of sexually oriented businesses.  So-called "adult" video stores, arcades, and cabarets could not be located within one thousand feet of any school, church, library, park, day care facility, or private residence. 
Sex shops and strip clubs would have to shut down between the hours of midnight and 6 AM, and nude dancing would be prohibited.  Noone under 18 would be allowed to enter.  Alcohol would be banned on the premises of such establishments.  Individuals with a criminal record could not have any ownership or management interest in the business.
While the U.S. Supreme Court has made it virtually impossible to shut down such businesses, federal courts have ruled that state and local governments can regulate such businesses to minimize their negative secondary effects.  The bill states that its purpose is to prevent or abate such secondary effects, which include personal and property crimes, sex crimes, drug trafficking, and urban blight. 
Do Insurance Companies Have Incentive to Cover Abortions?
The raging national debate over health insurance coverage for abortions has taken a new twist thanks to recent comments from a Planned Parenthood official in Maryland.
John Nugent, chief executive officer of Baltimore Planned Parenthood, says that insurance companies have become increasingly comfortable with covering abortions for one simple reason:  It's cheaper to abort an unborn child than it is for a woman to give birth.
Nugent tells Forbes magazine:  "A first trimester abortion is $300 to $450.  But if the gestational age is higher you're paying for a surgical suite.  That's why the insurance companies think they should be offering it.  It's cheaper to terminate an unwanted pregnancy rather than taking it to term."
The Forbes article points out that the average national cost of a vaginal delivery can be nearly $6000, and that the cost of a caesarean section can be over $8500.
Students for Life Director Kristen Hawkins says the expense issue also comes into play with children with disabilities or diseases.  "Sadly, there are many today who see the cure of many...diseases as simply the elimination of those pre-born children with the diseases."
Missouri law currently prohibits the sale of health insurance policies that cover abortion except through an optional rider for which an additional premium must be paid.  Senator Scott Rupp of Lake St. Louis and Rep. Darrell Pollock of Lebanon have filed bills to make sure that basic policies offered in Missouri continue to exclude abortion coverage.  Their bills would seek to exempt Missouri from abortion coverage requirements contained in proposed federal health care legislation. 
Santorum to Speak at Educational Policy Conference
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, a longtime pro-life leader, will be in St. Louis this week.  Santorum will be a featured speaker at the annual Educational Policy Conference sponsored by the Constitutional Coalition.  The former Pennsylvania senator will be participate in a segment entitled "Moral Education Builds a Moral Nation."  The conference is being held February 4-6 at the St. Louis Frontenac Hilton Hotel.
Other speakers at the conference include conservative author David Horowitz, conservative commentator Michael Medved, and family researcher Patrick Fagan of the Family Research Council.  Popular talk show host Glenn Beck is the headliner for a special dinner being held at St. Louis University's Chaifetz Arena.
For more information, you can call (314) 434-7028.
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Legislators Seek Passage of Religious Liberty Amendment
Efforts have been renewed in the Missouri Legislature to adopt a constitutional amendment protecting the religious liberties of Missouri citizens.  Bills have been introduced in both the Missouri House and Senate which are designed to assure freedom of religious expression in our state.
The Senate Committee on General Laws has heard early testimony on a joint resolution sponsored by Senator Delbert Scott of Lowry City.  If approved by the General Assembly, it would require voter approval in a statewide election later this year.
A major thrust of the constitutional amendment is ensuring the rights of public school students to engage in voluntary prayer and to acknowledge God in the classroom and other school activities.  The language of the amendment states that students have the right to free exercise of religious expression "as long as such prayer, acknowledgement of God, or other expression is private and voluntary...and in a manner that is not disruptive..."
The joint resolution also protects the rights of students to express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work.  It also declares that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate their religious beliefs.
This latter issue came to the fore in Missouri in recent years as a result of an incident at Missouri State University.  A social work student named Emily Brooker was required to write a letter to legislators supporting the rights of homosexuals to adopt children despite the fact that it contradicted her religious values.  She was subjected to intimidation by professors and school administrators and threatened with denial of further participation in her course of study.
The legislation also addresses the rights of citizens to peaceably assemble on public property and express their faith.  The amendment spells out that "any person shall have the right to pray individually or corporately in a public setting so long as such prayer does not result in disturbance of the peace or disruption of a public meeting or assembly or impede public access."  Citizens would be guaranteed the right to pray and acknowledge God on public property "so long as such prayers and other expressions abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances.
The joint resolution also would place into the Constitution language authorizing governments to have invocations before meetings of public bodies.  Ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals would have constitutional protection when they are invited to solemnize  
public proceedings with invocations or other prayers.
In recent years, organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have waged an all-out campaign to silence religious expression in the public square.  Lawyers for these groups send intimidation letters to school boards saying that Bible clubs can't meet after school, that students and teachers can't talk about God in the classroom or at school events, and that students and teachers can't pray together. They send letters to city councils saying that ministers can't offer prayers before council meetings.  They argue that National Day of Prayer ceremonies can't be held at county courthouses and in city parks.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has made it clear that governments cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination by discriminating against religious speech, many officials who receive these letters back down to these interest groups because of fear of lawsuits and protracted legal fees.  This constitutional amendment is intended to provide clarification and legal backing for public officials to defend and protect the religious liberties of Missouri citizens and schoolchildren.  It further calls for the text of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution to be posted in all public schools outlining our First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
Representative Mike McGhee of Odessa has introduced an identical proposed constitutional amendment in the Missouri House.  Representative McGhee has won passage of similar joint resolutions in the last two sessions with overwhelming bipartisan support.  He has been a true champion of religious freedom during his years in the General Assembly.  The Missouri House has passed some form of prayer amendment in the last four legislative sessions. 
The challenge has been obtaining priority attention to this legislation in the Missouri Senate.  Last year was the first time the issue was debated on the floor of the Senate, and the bill ran into a determined filibuster from liberal senators who are allies of the ACLU.  It is hoped that this year the Senate will give serious consideration to this measure.
We encourage you to be praying consistently for this issue to gain momentum this session.  Atheist organizations like the Freedom from Religion Foundation are intensifying their campaigns to remove all references to God from the public square and from public debate.  The people of Missouri deserve the opportunity to vote to  preserve their God-given right to pray to Our Heavenly Father and ask for his guidance and His Grace.  A nation that repudiates God, and decrees that He is not welcome in public life, is a nation that is repudiating his blessings.
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