New Speaker Pro Tem Embraces
The new Speaker Pro Tem of the Missouri House of Representatives has challenged his colleagues to embrace a strong pro-life agenda during the first regular session of the 96th General Assembly.
Representative Shane Schoeller of Willard said the Legislature has "a sacred duty to protect the vulnerable and indefensible." He shared his priorities in his acceptance speech following his election to the position of Speaker Pro Tem, the number two leadership post in the House.
Representative Schoeller said he would never apologize for the responsibility the state holds "to protect those who cannot protect themselves, whether born or unborn."
"As we work to strengthen laws that protect life in the halls of this Capitol, I challenge this body, each community, and each faith-based organization to be even more vigilant in upholding the sacredness of life and the individual beauty given to us all by our Creator. In doing so we will foster the culture of life necessary to truly protect the unborn."
Representative Schoeller stated that a change in the "spirit of the culture" is necessary to end the injustice of abortion. "We must choose to help mothers in unexpected pregnancies so that they are given every opportunity to bring their little one to full term. Changes in the law will be meaningless until life is held to be so sacred that willfully choosing to end it becomes unthinkable."
The new Speaker Pro Tem also expressed concern about the welfare of abused and neglected children. "For too long, abused children have taken a backseat to politics and bureaucratic rules. We cannot continue to ignore our failing system while many little ones have lost their lives or have endured life altering injuries. It is time we commit ourselves to their protection and make no apologies for doing so."
Representative Schoeller's remarks had a decidedly spiritual tone to them. He opened his speech by giving "tribute to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," which is uncharacteristic for a legislative address on such an occasion. We pray that other legislators will share Representative Schoeller's boldness in calling on God's guidance and counsel in the affairs of our state.
Obama Administration Drops New
The Obama Administration has announced that it is abandoning a controversial new "end-of-life" policy recently incorporated into new Medicare regulations. The Administrations says it is setting aside the plan, which would have reimbursed doctors for holding "advance care planning" discussions during annual "wellness" visits.
The policy was similar to language originally inserted by Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon into President Obama's recently passed health care legislation. That language, which was developed by the pro-euthanasia group Compassion and Choices, was also abandoned after critics charged it would create federally funded "death panels."
The New York Times reports that the Administration decided to eliminate the new "advance care planning" regulation because more people needed to have the opportunity to comment on it before it went into effect.
That clearly wasn't the original plan. Congressman Blumenauer, who is a supporter of assisted suicide, had sent a memo to his allies urging them to help keep the public in the dark.
"We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists because e-mails can too easily be forwarded," he stated in his memo. "Thus far, it seems no press or blogs have discovered it. The longer this regulation goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it."
The pro-life community has been greatly concerned about federally funded end-of-life "counseling" because of the stridently anti-life philosophy of President Obama and his advisers. Ezekiel Emmanuel, a man known as the President's "health care alchemist" and a chief architect of the President's health care plan, has been an outspoken proponent of health care rationing for the elderly and the disabled.
Emmanuel has stated in the past that government-managed health care should not provide services to individuals "who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens." Emmanuel has included patients with dementia and children with learning disabilities on that list.
In the midst of the latest ruckus over senior citizen health care, the White House has announced that Emmanuel will be leaving his post as health adviser in the Office of Management and Budget. Unfortunately, he is not leaving the Administration, but is returning to his former job as the Director of the bioethics department in the National Institutes of Health.
|Missouri Legislators Seek New Restrictions on Late-Term Abortions
Two leaders in the Missouri Legislature are sponsoring bills this session which would place strict limits on the performance of late-term abortions in Missouri. Senator Rob Mayer, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and Representative Tim Jones, the Majority Leader in the Missouri House, have each introduced legislation which would regulate post-viability abortions.
Under the proposals, abortions would be prohibited when the unborn child is viable except when the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the mother or when continuation of the pregnancy would pose a significant health risk to the mother. The bills establish specific definitions for the life and health exceptions for late-term abortions.
Current Missouri law states that "no abortion of a viable unborn child shall be performed unless necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman." Unfortunately, the law, adopted by the Missouri General Assembly in 1974, failed to define the term "health."
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a case known as Doe v Bolton which was issued the prior year, determined that the "health" of the mother includes "all factors" including "physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age." The result is that the United States has abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
The state of the law in America today is that a woman can obtain an abortion prior to viability for no reason, and after viability for any reason at all. In fact, the United States has the most liberal abortion laws in the world. Most countries prohibit the performance of abortions by the third trimester of pregnancy.
In recent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated it may be ready to re-evaluate its wide-open definition of "health" in Doe v. Bolton. In the 2007 Gonzalez v Carhart decision upholding bans on partial-birth abortion, the Supreme Court stated that "court precedents after Roe had undervalued the state's interest in potential life." The Court further suggested that restrictions on late-term abortions would be permissible unless they "subjected women to significant health risks."
The new legislation proposed by Senator Mayer and Representative Jones seeks to define the nature of significant health risks. The bill states that an abortion may be performed after viability only when "continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman." The "life of the mother" exception applies in circumstances when "the life of the pregnant woman...is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself." While late-term abortions constitute a small percentage of abortions in Missouri and other states, they nonetheless continue to occur, primarily in the hospital setting, and often for non-therapeutic reasons. Many citizens and lawmakers are under the false impression that partial-birth abortion laws prohibited late-term abortions, but those laws merely prohibit that abortion procedure. Abortionists now typically perform late-term abortions by injecting the unborn child with a toxic substance that stops the baby's heart, and then proceed to deliver a dead preborn child.
Abortionists in Missouri would no longer be able to make unilateral decisions to destroy the life of a healthy viable unborn child under the provisions of the new legislation. The abortionist would have to obtain the agreement of a second unaffiliated physician with obstetrical or neonatal experience who concurs that the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the mother or would result in significant health risks.
The Midwest has a sorry history of being a hub for late-term abortion activity. George Tiller performed numerous abortions on viable unborn children at his clinic in Wichita, Kansas, before he was murdered by a gunman. Leroy Carhart has operated a late-term abortion business out of Bellevue, Nebraska. He recently announced he was leaving that state because of a new law restricting late-term abortions, and was planning to open new clinics in Iowa, Indiana, and Maryland. Missouri doesn't need Carhart deciding to set up shop here because of our lax laws on late-term abortion. We ask that you please be praying for Senator Mayer and Representative Jones and their colleagues as they debate this life-saving legislation. Senator Mayer was the sponsor of Missouri's new ultrasound informed consent law enacted by the General Assembly last year. Despite his new position as the chief officer of the Missouri Senate, he wanted to continue to take a lead role in protecting innocent human life by sponsoring this bill.
Representative Jones has been a strong ally for the pro-life movement, and despite his new role as Majority Floor Leader in the Missouri House, he chose to make this legislation a personal priority, and sponsor the bill himself. House Speaker Steve Tilley has expressed strong support for the proposal, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey is a co-sponsor of Senator Mayer's bill.
The Missouri Family Policy Council originated and developed this legislation in consultation with Americans United for Life. We are most grateful for their counsel and assistance. You can read a copy of the text of the bill and a summary of the bill by clicking this link:
Late-Term Abortion Bill
It is time for Missouri to put an end to the gruesome and grisly business of late-term abortions. Surveys show that more than 80 percent of the public agrees that this barbaric practice needs to come to an end.