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Missouri Family E-NewsJuly 19, 2010
 
 
Students Told They Can't Pray Outside Supreme Court
 
The Alliance Defense Fund is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to honor the religious liberties of American citizens on its own property.  ADF has sent a letter to the High Court deploring a recent incident, in which police officers told a group of students that it was against the law for them to pray on the steps of the Supreme Court building.
 
Teacher Maureen Rigo took her American History class from Wickenburg Christian Academy in Arizona on an educational tour of the Supreme Court complex on May 5th.  While there, they stood to the side at the bottom of the Supreme Court steps and prayed quietly in a conversational tone so as not to draw attention.  Nonetheless, a police officer approached them and told them to stop praying immediately, and that their activities were against the law. 
 
"Christians shouldn't be silenced for exercising their religious beliefs through quiet prayer on public property," says Nate Kellum, senior counsel for ADF.  "The last place you'd expect this kind of obvious disregard for the First Amendment would be on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court itself."
 
Kellum says that it is clear that Mrs. Rigo and her class were disciplined because of the content of their speech.  "Evidently, people may engage in all sorts of conversational expression on Supreme Court grounds unless that expression happens to involve prayer.  In so doing, Supreme Court police have targeted a particular viewpoint for censorship.  They have singled out religious prayer as the only form of conversation to be silenced."
 
Supreme Court officials defended their actions based on a federal law prohibiting parades and processions on Supreme Court premises.
 
In another case involving prayer, a North Carolina pastor was recently dismissed from his duties as an honorary chaplain for the North Carolina House of Representatives.  Pastor Ron Baity of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem was invited to offer invocations during one of the weeks of the legislative session.  However, his invitation was withdrawn when he refused to remove the name of Jesus from his prayers.  He was told by the House clerk, "We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus.  We have some people here that can be offended."  
 
 
 
Governor Signs Pregnant Women's Protection Act
 
Missouri has become the second state in the nation to enact legislation empowering pregnant women to take protective action to safeguard their unborn children. 
 
Missouri law had previously authorized individuals to use force, including deadly force, to protect themselves from death, serious physical injury, or any forcible crime.  Governor Jay Nixon has signed legislation which now allows women to use similar deadly force to protect the life of their unborn child.
 
"This new law ensures that women who use force to protect their unborn child from criminal attacks are not later themselves subjected to prosecution and incarceration," says Denise Burke of Americans United for Life.
 
The new law adds to the legal protections unborn children have under Missouri law in non-abortion contexts.  Presently, a person can be charged with homicide or involuntary manslaughter for causing the death of an unborn child.
 
The new statute was sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Riddle of Mokane, and was handled in the Senate by Senator Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon.  The legislation, known as the Pregnant Women's Protection Act, has been promoted by Americans United for Life (AUL).  The effort to win passage of the measure was led by Kerry Messer of Missouri Family Network, who is the State Director for AUL. 
 
 
Pro-Life Community Hails Enactment of New Informed Consent Law
 
By the end of the summer, the abortion conversation will change in Missouri for the first time in 37 years.  On August 28th, Missouri's new informed consent law on abortion will take effect.   And, in the words of the sponsor of the new law, Senator Rob Mayer of Dexter, "this is a big leap forward in protecting the lives of the unborn."
 
Ever since the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade in 1973, pregnant women have been told that abortion is a minor surgical procedure.  Abortion doctors and abortion workers have told women that the procedure involves the removal of "fetal material," "the products of conception," "the contents of the uterus," or "a blob of tissue."
 
Beginning on August 28th, abortion clinics will have to tell women the truth.  Under the new law, women will be informed of these un-refutable scientific facts:  "The life of each human being begins at conception.  Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."
 
The new pro-life law requires that women be provided in person informational materials about abortion 24 hours before the procedure is scheduled.  These materials  will include pictures of the development of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments, descriptions of the onset of brain and heart functions, and information on when the unborn child is viable. 
 
Most significantly, abortion-minded women will be given the opportunity to see an ultrasound of their child and hear the heartbeat of the child.  If women choose to view an ultrasound, abortion clinics will be required to offer an active ultrasound that accurately portrays the presence of external members and internal organs, or provide women with a list of other providers where an ultrasound may be obtained. 
 
Just as critically,  women must be given the option to hear the heartbeat of their child.  The auscultation of fetal heart tone must be of a quality consistent with standard medical practice.  In the case of advanced pregnancies, women will also be advised that the unborn child may experience pain.  Mothers will then have a 24-hour period to reflect on what they have seen, heard, and read.
 
Senator Rob Mayer, sponsor of the new law, believes that Missouri's new 24-hour waiting period for abortion will be a life-saver.  "As long as abortion is legal under federal law, we must do everything we can to get the truth in front of these mothers.  They must know that things are not hopeless, and there is a better choice than ending that child's life.  I truly believe that a woman who can hear the heartbeat of her child, be aware of the pain the child may go through, and is told of the many options they have, will ultimately choose life."
 
Under the new law, abortion clinics will be required to provide women with materials that tell them exactly what those options are.  Those materials will include a list and phone numbers for public and private agencies willing to assist her in carrying her child to term, including pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies.  The materials will include information about the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Program, which provides a range of services to financially needy women to support them and their unborn child for up to a year following the child's birth.
 
Women seeking an abortion will also be informed of the danger that abortion can pose to their own physical and mental health.  They will be advised of the immediate and long-term medical risks associated with abortion, and the possible adverse psychological effects they may experience.  They will also be told of the harm abortion can cause to future pregnancies, and their ability to carry a subsequent child to term.  Numerous studies have confirmed that women with prior abortions have a higher incidence of low birth-weight babies and premature births.  There continue to be questions as to whether abortion affects the subsequent ability of a woman to conceive or to gestate a child in the womb.
 
Former State Representative Bob Onder, who sponsored the original Missouri House version of the informed consent bill in 2008, says that it is the duty of a doctor to guarantee that patients are completely informed about the risks and consequences of medical procedures.  Onder, who is himself a physician, says, "For years in Missouri the abortion industry has made a mockery of the informed consent process.  At last women in Missouri will have the right to be fully informed as they make this life or death decision."
 
The Department of Health and Senior Services is charged with the responsibility to produce the written materials to be used by abortion clinics by November 30.  It will be up to Department Director Margaret Donnelly to implement compliance with the law.  While Ms. Donnelly has been a supporter of abortion rights, we remain hopeful that she will honor the spirit of the law.  We urge you to pray for her that she will show her concern for preborn children and their mothers in our state.
 
The Missouri Family Policy Council was pleased to initiate, develop, and win passage of Missouri's new informed consent law.  We borrowed from a series of model bills prepared by Americans United for Life, and we want to thank Mailee Smith of AUL for her collaboration in this three-year long effort.  We thank other pro-leaders such as Kerry Messer of Missouri Family Network who worked constructively to build support for this legislation.
 
Missouri now has the most comprehensive informed consent law that the U.S. Supreme Court will permit.  Every provision in this bill is thoroughly constitutional, and abortion advocates know it.  Paula Gianino, President of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, has stated that they are preparing to comply with the law, acknowledging that legal challenges to similar laws have been unsuccessful.
 
We are very grateful to Governor Nixon for his decision to respect the values of Missourians and the bi-partisan sentiments of the Legislature on the issue of the sanctity of human life.  We deeply appreciate Senator Mayer's Godly and selfless leadership in shepherding this legislation over the last three years.  We are grateful to former Representative Bob Onder and Representative Bryan Pratt for championing this legislation in the Missouri House.  We commend the leadership of both chambers for supporting this legislation and prioritizing its passage.  Missouri is blessed to have so many dedicated pro-life legislators, and we thank every one of them for their votes for Senate Bill 793.
 
Above all and before all, we thank God for this new day dawning for generations of children and their mothers in Missouri.  Jesus Christ said that His purpose in coming into this world was to testify to the truth, and that that truth would set us free.  We thank God that more women will know the truth about the reality and the precious value of every one of His children, and that God treasures each of those children no matter what the circumstance of their conception.  And yes, God wants us to be equally pro-life after birth in sharing the Gospel message about the abundant life that can only be known through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise be to Him for this glorious new chapter in the history of our state.
 
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