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Missouri Family E-News

February 4, 2014

                                
House Panel OKs New
Reflection Period for Abortion   

 

A Missouri House Committee has advanced legislation which would extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours.

 

The House Health Care Policy Committee has combined identical bills filed by Representatives Keith Frederick of Rolla and Kevin Elmer of Nixa. 

 

The Committee endorsed the measure, House Committee Substitute for House Bills 1307 and 1313, by a vote of 8-3.  It now moves to the House Rules Committee, which is expected to recommend that it be advanced for full debate on the House floor.

 

The longer waiting period prescribed by the bill is designed to provide women with more time to review and reflect on information provided by the state under Missouri's informed consent law.

 

That law, vastly strengthened in 2010, requires that a woman be furnished with detailed information regarding the nature of the abortion procedure, the health risks of the procedure, and alternatives to abortion.

 

The informed consent law also requires that an abortion-minded woman be given an opportunity to see an ultrasound of her child and hear the heartbeat of the child if it is audible.

 

Waiting periods were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.  The High Court said that a "reflection period" "helps ensure that a woman's decision to abort is a well-considered one."

 

The additional time for reflection would provide a "cooling-off period" for a woman and her loved ones who have been confronted with the sudden emotional toll of an unintended pregnancy.   

 

Professionals who work in pregnancy resource centers can testify to the fact that women seeking an abortion are often under intense pressure from boyfriends, parents, and even grandparents.  The pressure is even more calculated when young women have been impregnated by adult men and sexual predators.

 

State Senator David Sater of Cassville initiated the effort during this session to extend the abortion waiting period by introducing Senate Bill 519.  His bill has been heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the Committee has yet to schedule a vote on the measure.

 

Should either of these bills become law, Missouri would become the third state with a 72-hour waiting period.  Utah and South Dakota currently have such laws on the books, neither of which is presently under legal challenge.                                          

       
Missouri Reps Vote to Ban Federal Abortion Funding

Republican members of Missouri's Congressional delegation have voted to slap a total ban on federal taxpayer funding of elective abortions.

Six of Missouri's eight representatives in the U.S. House voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

Congressmen Sam Graves, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Jason Smith, and Congresswomen Ann Wagner and Vicky Hartzler voted for the bill.

Congressman William "Lacy" Clay voted to support the use of federal taxpayer dollars for abortion.  Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, who has supported abortion funding in the past, did not vote.

The legislation, sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, would place an ironclad prohibition on federal subsidies of abortion in the totality of federal law.

The bill would permanently codify existing abortion restrictions known as the Hyde and Weldon Amendments, which must be repeatedly attached as riders to appropriations bills.

More significantly, the legislation would negate abortion subsidy and abortion surcharge provisions included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

Both Congresswoman Hartzler and Wagner took to the House floor to voice their passionate support for the proposal.

"Recent polling confirms what we already know--the majority of Americans do not want their hard-earned tax dollars going to pay for abortions," Rep. Wagner said.

"This act not only prevents taxpayer funding for abortion under Obamacare," Wagner added.  "It also requires transparency to ensure Americans are fully informed about which plans on the exchanges contain abortion coverages and surcharges."

President Obama has already pledged to veto the abortion funding ban should it reach his desk.  It is unlikely to do so, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is unlikely to allow the bill to be taken up for debate in that chamber.  
 
  

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Missouri Legislator
Renews Push for
Parental Rights Bill  


Legislation has been re-introduced in the Missouri General Assembly to provide constitutional protection to the parenting rights of Missouri moms and dads.  State Representative Todd Richardson of Poplar Bluff has once again sponsored a proposed Parental Rights Amendment to Missouri's Constitution.

House Joint Resolution 56 would add a new section to the Bill of Rights in our State Constitution.  It would specify "that parents have a fundamental right to exercise exclusive control over the care, custody, and upbringing of their minor children."

The new language delineates that parents have legal authority to make "all decisions involving the discipline, education, religious instruction, health, medical care, place of habitation, and general well-being" of their minor children.

The most significant public policy impact of Representative Richardson's proposal would be in the area of education.  The amendment would provide a constitutional guarantee to the right of parents to choose the setting of their children's education, whether it be public schools, private schools, parochial or parish schools, or home education.  As such, it would provide homeschooling with constitutional safeguards.

House Joint Resolution 56 would also ensure the instructional independence of private schools and home educators.  The amendment would prohibit the state from dictating the content of curriculum used in private schools or in home education.  No state official could require inclusion in the curriculum of any materials which conflict with the school's religious doctrines or a homeschool parent's religious beliefs. 

These provisions are already found in state statute, but would now be inserted into the binding language of the Constitution.  In so doing, those protections could not be eliminated or altered without a vote of the people of Missouri.

Representative Richardson's proposed constitutional amendment was enthusiastically approved by the Missouri House during the 2013 legislative session.  Last year's house joint resolution on parental rights was overwhelmingly approved by a 131-23 vote with genuine bipartisan support.  The bill died in the Senate for lack of time to move it through that chamber. 

Out of all the essential civil liberties enjoyed by American citizens, the right of parents to guide the upbringing of their children has been one of the most broadly shared and least disputed.  Yet there is no language in either the federal or state constitution which formally establishes that fundamental right.

Federal courts have acknowledged the right of parents to decide the destiny of their children for nearly 100 years.  In the famous Pierce v. Society of Sisters case of 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that "the child is not merely a creature of the state."  In the Prince case in 1944, the court said:  "It is cardinal with us that the custody, care, and nurture of the child rests first with the parents...The private realm of family life is one which the state should not enter except for compelling circumstances."

In the 1972 case of Wisconsin v. Yoder, the Supreme Court established the principle that parents could choose to educate their children outside of either public or private schools.  The Court upheld the right of parents to transfer their moral standards, religious beliefs, and the elements of good citizenship to their children by educating them themselves.

Over the last century, the Supreme Court reasoned that parental rights were a liberty interest bestowed by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.  But in the Troxel v. Granville case handed down in the year 2000, the High Court went even further.  It defined the privilege of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children as a fundamental right. 

The High Court's validation of parental rights in the Troxel case was sweeping:  "The Due Process Clause doe not permit a state to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a 'better' decision could be made."

Over the years defender of home education have proposed various parental rights amendments on the state and the federal level.  Unfortunately, they have at times suffered from defects in statutory construction.  Some have failed to effectively constrain intrusion by the state into family life.  Others have failed to explicitly preserve the legitimate interest of the state to safeguard the welfare of children in serious cases of child abuse, sexual abuse, and child neglect.

House Joint Resolution 56 recognizes the many valid child protection provisions of Missouri law designed to ensure the safety of children whose life or health may be in true jeopardy.  Yet the language of HJR 56 reaffirms the legal standard employed in state and federal courts that parental custody cannot be removed until a parent has been proven to be unfit through clear and convincing evidence.

The future fate of home education in the United States has been called into question by recent actions of the Obama Administration.  The controversy surrounds a homeschooling family from Germany that has sought political asylum in the United States.  The Romeike family fled Germany when they were harassed and fined by government officials for failing to enroll their children in the public schools.

The U.S. Justice Department has strongly opposed the Romeike's request for political asylum.  In a brief filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by Obama Administration lawyers, the Justice Department stated that laws that prohibit home education "do not violate basic human rights."  This is a clear and total contradiction to the federal case law we have described above.

Should the Missouri Parental Rights Amendment be endorsed by both chambers of the Missouri Legislature, it would be submitted to a vote of the people later this year.  The proposition would go before Missouri voters on the November general election ballot, unless the Governor chose to place it on the August primary ballot.

House Joint Resolution 56 was heard last week by the House General Laws Committee.  It is expected to move to the House floor for debate in the coming weeks.  We encourage you to ask your state representative to vote for this important bill to protect the religious liberties of Missouri families.  You can do so by using this link:
Missouri House 

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