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Missouri Family E-News

September 19, 2011

Federal Court OKs S. Dakota Informed Consent Law 



A federal appeals court has upheld a South Dakota law that requires that women considering abortion be told the truth about the humanity of the unborn child.


South Dakota passed an informed consent law in 2005 that requires that women be advised that "abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."  The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that that provision is constitutional.


The decision by the 8th Circuit is of great significance to the State of Missouri.  The Missouri General Assembly adopted new informed consent legislation in 2010 developed by the Missouri Family Policy Council containing language nearly identical to the South Dakota statute.  The State of Missouri falls within the jurisdiction of the 8th Appeals Court Circuit.


The South Dakota law also included a requirement that women be informed that they have "an existing relationship" with an unborn human being."  The 8th Circuit also upheld that provision.


However, the 8th Circuit panel struck down another section of the law calling for women to be advised that women who undergo abortion may experience an increased risk of suicide.   The judges decided that the public record "does not demonstrate a generally recognized causal connection between abortion and suicide."  


Judge Ray Gruender dissented from the ruling on the suicide provision.  Gruender said that "conclusive proof of causation is not required in order for the identification of a medical risk."  He cited numerous studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals that demonstrate a "statistically significant correlation" between abortion and suicide.


Gruender argued that the studies submitted by South Dakota are "sufficiently reliable to support the truth of the proposition that the relative risk of suicide is higher for women who abort their pregnancies compared to women who give birth or have not become pregnant."


The 8th Circuit decision makes it clear that any lawsuit challenging the key provisions of the 2010 Missouri informed consent law would be unsuccessful.  Planned Parenthood has already announced that they do not intend to take the new Missouri law into court. 



Court Ruling Supports "Adult" Business Regulations 



An Ohio law that shuts down sexually oriented businesses at midnight has been upheld by a federal appeals court.  The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law does not violate the free speech rights of the operators or patrons of so-called "adult" businesses.   


The new Ohio law places tough restrictions on nude dancing clubs, prohibiting contact between dancers and patrons, and requires that they be closed from midnight to 6AM.  The law was enacted to prevent the negative secondary effects of such businesses, which become more pronounced during the late evening and early morning hours.


Ohio strip-club operators had argued that the new law was restricting free "expression" and was resulting in economic harm to dancers and the establishments.  The court rejected such arguments, stating that economic injury does not justify a First Amendment claim, and that patrons were still able to access so-called "adult entertainment" for the major part of the day.


The provisions of the Ohio law are very similar to Missouri's new law regulating sexually oriented businesses, adopted by the Missouri Legislature in 2010.  That law also requires that "adult cabarets" close at midnight, bans the sale of alcohol, prohibits total nudity, and imposes a distance requirement between dancers and patrons.  


The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this month in a lawsuit filed by sexually oriented businesses in Missouri against the new statute.  Attorneys for the sex clubs and sex shops also made the argument of economic injury rejected by the 6th Circuit.  


While it is never possible to determine with certainty how a court will rule based on questions asked during oral arguments, the queries and comments offered by Missouri's Supreme Court Justices strongly suggest that they do not see constitutional problems with Missouri's new sexually oriented business law. 


The Missouri General Assembly adopted the law during the 2010 session to combat the adverse secondary effects of "adult" video stores, arcades, and so-called "gentlemen's clubs."  Numerous studies have shown that such businesses increase the incidence of prostitution, drug trafficking, crimes against persons and property, and neighborhood blight.      


Missouri Senate Votes to Extend Pro-Life
Tax Credit Programs

The Missouri Senate has taken action to extend tax credits available to Missouri citizens who donate to pro-life pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes.  The Senate action would continue the life of those tax credits through August 28th of the year 2015.

The renewal of the pro-life tax credit program was included in a broad-based bill revising a wide range of tax credits authorized under Missouri law.  While the extension of the pregnancy resource center and maternity home tax credits was never a matter of controversy, the subject became entangled in a highly contentious debate in the Missouri Senate regarding other tax credits designed as economic development incentives.

The Senate endorsed the bill by a vote of 26-8 last week during the current special session, and it now moves to the House, where there is also strong support for the reauthorization of the pro-life tax credits.  Without action by the Missouri Legislature in the near term, the pregnancy resource center tax credits will expire on August 28th next year.  The law creating the tax credit program was first enacted in 2006.

Under the program, individuals who donate to a pregnancy resource center or maternity home can claim a tax credit of 50% of the amount contributed.  In other words, if you contributed $100 to a PRC, you can reduce your tax liability for the next year by $50.  Contributions can be made through securities and real property as well as cash.  The maximum tax credit that any individual can claim during a single year is $50,000.  There is a ceiling of $2 million in total tax credits that can be authorized for pregnancy resource centers in any fiscal year, and the same ceiling exists for total donations to maternity homes.

Donations must be made to tax-exempt non-profit organizations that are "established and operated primarily to provide assistance to women with crisis pregnancies or unplanned pregnancies."  Such agencies must offer "pregnancy testing, counseling, and emotional and material support"  or provide housing to assist women in carrying their pregnancies to term.

Sam Lee of Campaign Life and Kerry Messer of the Missouri Alliance for Life have led the effort to retain this valuable program that encourages tax-advantaged donations to numerous life-saving agencies all across Missouri. 

Kerry Messer, the lobbyist for the Missouri Alliance for Life, the association of state pregnancy resource centers, applauded the Senate action.  "One of the first principles related to the proper role of government is to discourage those who do evil, and reward those who do good.  Using tax policy to encourage good works is more than just a good cause.  It falls under the category of policies the State is Biblically obligated to support."   

There are currently 56 pregnancy resource centers recognized by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services as eligible to extend tax credits for donations to their programs.  Over 37,000 clients were served by these agencies during 2010.

Pregnancy resource centers traditionally offer free pregnancy tests, referrals for prenatal care, and healthy pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding classes.  Many PRC's have moved to a medical model where ultrasounds are offered on site.  PRC's often also provide help with material needs such as maternity clothes, baby clothes, layettes, and car seats.  Some even provide rent and utility assistance.

Pregnancy resource centers rely heavily on a dedicated corps of community volunteers.  These volunteers are highly trained, providing counseling and education not only on the subjects of pregnancy and  childbirth, but also in the areas of finance and continuing education goals.  Many PRC's ensure that their support efforts are equally focused on the fathers of preborn children.

The legislation approved by the Senate also extends the tax credit for donations to food pantries through August 28, 2015.  Missouri taxpayers can also claim a 50% tax credit for donations of cash or food to tax-exempt organizations that distribute emergency food supplies to low-income Missourians.

We encourage you to contact your state representative to let them know of your support for these highly beneficial tax credit programs that assist women, children, and families in need.  You can use this link to get in touch with your state representative:
Missouri House


Joe's Signature