Missouri Family E-News

March 15, 2016

            
MO House Strips Funds From Planned Parenthood  

The Missouri House of Representatives has adopted a budget amendment prohibiting the allocation of any state funds to Planned Parenthood.

The amendment, offered by Representative Robert Ross of Yukon, was added to the budget bill for the Missouri Department of Social Services for fiscal year 2017.

The amendment prohibits the appropriation of any state or federal funds to organizations that provide elective abortions, or which counsel women to have such abortions.

The effect of the amendment is to ban the disbursement of state or federal Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood or any other abortion provider.

An amendment was also offered to strip $379,000 from the Social Services budget.  That is essentially the amount of money that the State of Missouri paid Planned Parenthood last year in Medicaid reimbursements.

$55,000 of that amount, which is approximately the state's Medicaid match for the federal dollars, was shifted to the foundation formula which funds local public schools.

Missouri law has long prohibited any taxpayer dollars from being used to assist in the performance of elective abortions. The latest action by the Missouri House prevents Planned Parenthood from using taxpayer funds to buttress their bottom line.

"I am not looking to harm women's health services," Representative Ross stated during the debate.  "But if taking the entire amount out is what it takes to stop our tax dollars from being used for abortion, that's what I am willing to do."

"The only way to guarantee [Planned Parenthood] does not illicitly use state money for abortions is to remove all its state funding."

Supporters of Planned Parenthood argued that low-income women would be deprived of needed health services such as medical examinations, tests, and vaccines. 

Representative Donna Lichtenegger of Jackson responded that the argument was a hollow one.  "Everyone needs to understand there are local health centers that do exactly the same thing.  To say we are losing everything with this amendment is ludicrous."

Representative Lichtenegger is right.  There are a total of 27 federally-funded community health centers in Missouri.  Those centers provide services from 190 different "delivery sites."

Those centers are located in high-need areas with elevated poverty levels, higher than average infant mortality, and limited access to physicians.

The centers provide comprehensive primary care services.  More than 453,000 Missouri women were served by these community health centers during 2014.

Representative Marsha Haefner of Oakville says that the issue is very simple.  "The taxpayers in this state have made it very clear--they do not want their tax dollars to support abortion services."

  

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Missouri Senate Adopts
Proposal to Protect
 Freedom of Religion
 
The Missouri Senate has given final passage to a proposed constitutional amendment which would strengthen the free exercise of religion in our state.  The proposal would prohibit government from taking action against religious organizations because of their opposition to same-sex unions.

The measure, Senate Joint Resolution 39, was adopted by the Missouri Senate last Thursday on a vote of 23-7, and now moves on to the Missouri House of Representatives.  The proposal is sponsored by Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis. 

Senator Onder's bill was the subject of a 39-hour filibuster earlier in the week by senators supportive of the "gay rights" movement.  The protracted stalling tactics amounted to the longest continuous filibuster ever mounted in a Missouri legislative chamber.  The preliminary "debate" on the measure extended from 4PM on Tuesday afternoon to 7AM on Thursday morning without interruption.

Senate leaders then moved to shut down debate by moving the previous question.  While commonly used in the Missouri House, the previous question motion is rarely employed in the Senate.  It has been used in recent years when it has been clear that opponents of a bill will not allow their fellow senators to vote on a measure.

Senate Joint Resolution 39 would prohibit state agencies or local governments from imposing penalties on ministers, churches, or religious organizations for declining to participate in same-sex union ceremonies, or for refusing to make their facilities or property available for such ceremonies.   The bill also would immunize religious entities from civil lawsuits alleging discriminatory conduct.

The legislation would also ban any government action against wedding vendors for declining to service same-sex union ceremonies because of their religious beliefs.  Bakers, florists, and photographers have been the targets of anti-discrimination complaints in other states, with several businesses being the victims of harsh penalties for standing by their religious convictions.

Senator Onder says that the purpose of the constitutional amendment is to prevent government "from persecuting people for living out their religious beliefs."  "I don't think the state should decide what views of marriage are acceptable and what views aren't acceptable and then proceed to punish those who disagree."

Senator Mike Parson of Bolivar says it was necessary for people of faith to take a stand.  "Our freedom of religion is constantly under attack by liberals who seem to think the First Amendment doesn't matter.  They claim they are arguing for tolerance, but what they really want is to extinguish our freedom of religion.  Rather than embracing tolerance, they actually seek to keep anyone from holding religious beliefs that do not line up with their religious worldview."

The penalties prohibited by the bill include not only government fines and civil liabilities, but also the revocation of tax exemptions, or the denial of government contracts, grants, or reimbursements.  Religious organizations covered by the bill include houses of worship, religious schools, religious charities, religious social service providers, and religious hospitals and health care providers.
Senator Onder's bill is a response to two disturbing developments in the public arena.  The first was the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last June to redefine the institution of marriage.  In a case known as Obergefell v. Hodges, the High Court declared that same-sex individuals have a "fundamental right" to be "married."

In so doing, the Supreme Court transformed the nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage to include relationships which God has declared to be an abomination.  The High Court accomplished this by ignoring longstanding legal precedent that a "fundamental right" must be rooted deeply in the nation's history and traditions.

The second development is a rash of laws being adopted across the country which amend anti-discrimination statutes to include so-called "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."  As a result of these changes to the "public accommodations" sections of these laws, homosexuals have been empowered to sue or file complaints against Christian business owners who have declined to be personally involved in same-sex union ceremonies or celebrations.

While Missouri does not currently have such a law, local ordinances hostile to Christianity have been adopted in the communities of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia.  An ordinance enacted in Springfield was subsequently repealed by the voters.

In the most notorious case nationwide, an Oregon couple named Aaron and Melissa Klein came under attack for declining to decorate a cake for a same-sex "wedding."  A complaint was subsequently filed against them and their business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, for "sexual orientation discrimination."  State labor officials found the couple guilty, and levied against them a crushing fine of $135,000.

Such attacks have not been confined to wedding vendors or to secular businesses.  A Methodist church in New Jersey lost its state tax exemption when it refused to allow its property to  be used for a same-sex union ceremony.  A minister in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, was threatened with charges of "sexual orientation" discrimination for failing to "marry" same-sex "couples" at his wedding chapel.

Christian ministries have also been the victims of discrimination for their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  The State of Illinois cancelled its contract with Catholic Charities of Illinois to provide adoption services because the agency would only place children in families where they would have the benefit of a mother and a father.

If Senate Joint Resolution 39 is approved by the Missouri House, it would go on the statewide ballot for voter approval later this year.  Voters would cast their ballots on the issue in the November general election, unless Governor Jay Nixon decides to place the issue on the August primary ballot.

Here is how Senators voted on Senate Joint Resolution 39:

FOR:  Senators Brown, Cunningham, Dixon, Emery, Hegeman, Kehoe, Kraus, Libla, Munzlinger, Onder, Parson, Pearce, Richard, Riddle, Romine, Sater, Schaefer, Schatz, Schmitt, Silvey, Wallingford, Wasson, and Wieland

AGAINST:  Senators Curls, Holsman, Keaveny, Nasheed, Schupp, Sifton, and Walsh

ABSENT WITH LEAVE:  Senators Chappelle-Nadal and Schaaf

Senators Chappelle-Nadal and Schaaf voted against the bill on perfection.

Joe's Signature

 

Missouri Family Policy Council, 1430 Triad Center Dr., Ste. B, St. Peters, MO 63376
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