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.