Missouri Family E-News

January 15, 2019

Atheist Group Attacks Mural in Honor of 9/11 Victims 
Elected officials in Camden County are standing up to demands by a national atheist organization that they remove a mural from the county courthouse commemorating the victims of the 9/11 attack in New York.
Leaders of the Freedom from Religion Foundation maintain that the painting contains religious symbols,  and is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
The painting depicts the cross at Ground Zero atop the rubble from the Twin Towers, with a firefighter and a young girl observing the scene.
"This is nothing more than a Latin cross hung on the wall by order of the county government, which is an endorsement of Christianity," says Colin McNamara, an attorney for the atheist group. 
But residents of Camden County don't see it that way, and they piled into a meeting of the Camden County Commission last week to insist that the mural remain in place.
"Here in Camden County, we definitely should not allow the federal government to tell us what we can and cannot do," said local resident Ike Skelton.  "The sheriff of this county should ensure that this painting is never removed."
Camden County Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty says he believes the county is fully in compliance with the First Amendment.
"Federal courts have found that [the Ground Zero cross] is a genuine historical artifact and is not an endorsement of any particular faith and it doesn't excessively entangle government with religion."
First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm, has urged Camden County leaders to stand firm against the threats of legal action from the atheist group.
"Clearly, if the 9/11 memorial itself is permissible under the Constitution, then a painting depicting that same memorial is certainly also permissible," says First Liberty attorney Michael Berry.
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes had this to say about the controversy:
"As near as I can tell, the folks who live in Camden County are hard-working, church-going patriots.  They love God and they love their country."
"They were not looking for a fight, but the fight came to their front door.  And they're loaded for bear.  All that to say, the ragtag bunch of blowhard bullies from Wisconsin doesn't have a prayer."
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 Missouri Legislature  
to Debate Pro-Life  
Heartbeat Proposals 
Legislation has been introduced this session in both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly which would protect the lives of unborn children once a heartbeat can be detected in the child.  
The "heartbeat" bills have been filed by Senator Andrew Koenig of Wildwood  and Representative Nick Schroer of O'Fallon.  Koenig's proposal is Senate Bill 139 and Schroer's bill is House Bill 126.
The bills specify that before a doctor can proceed with an abortion, he or she must first make a good faith determination concerning the presence or absence of a heartbeat using methods consistent with standard medical practice.
If a heartbeat is detected, the doctor must inform the woman that the law prohibits him or her from performing the abortion unless there is a medical emergency posing a threat to her health.  The doctor is required to offer the woman the option of viewing or hearing the heartbeat.  If no heartbeat is detected, an abortion may be performed or induced within 96 hours of the conclusion of the heartbeat test.   

A doctor who performs an abortion when a heartbeat has been detected will have his or her medical license revoked, and may not reapply to be a licensed physician in the future.  A doctor who fails to perform a heartbeat detection test prior to an abortion is subject to having his or her license revoked or suspended by the State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts.
While there are different perspectives in the medical community, it is generally accepted that a preborn child's heart starts beating by approximately 22 days after conception, and that the heartbeat can be detected by an early ultrasound exam from 6-8 weeks into the pregnancy.  
"Heartbeat" bills are being debated in state legislatures all across the country.  They are a direct challenge to U.S. Supreme Court rulings governing restrictions on abortion.  In the landmark case known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court established that states may not restrict a woman's access to abortion prior to the point at which an unborn child is viable.   
Most legal challenges to the Supreme Court's precedents on abortion never make it to the High Court.  The outcome of those cases are determined by federal circuit courts of appeal.  Missouri falls within the jurisdiction of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Three states within the 8th Circuit have already passed "heartbeat" bills into law.

Arkansas enacted such a law in 2013. A U.S. District Court ruled that the post-heartbeat abortion prohibition was unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit then let stand the District Court decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a further appeal of the case.  However, a portion of the Arkansas law requiring that a heartbeat detection test be performed before an abortion is still in effect.

North Dakota also adopted a "heartbeat" law in 2013.  It suffered the same outcome, with the 8th Circuit allowing a District Court decision invalidating the law to remain in effect, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting an appeal of the 8th Circuit decision.

The State of Iowa adopted a "heartbeat" law last year.  It is currently being challenged in Iowa state court.  The Iowa Supreme Court has interpreted that state's constitution to provide that a woman's access to abortion is a fundamental right.

You can let your state legislators in Missouri know your opinion about the "heartbeat" bills introduced in the Missouri Legislature.

The Senate bill is Senate Bill 139.  You can contact your state senator by clicking this link:

The House bill is House Bill 126.  You can contact your state representative by using this link:

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