Missouri Legislature Approves Pro-Life Conscience Bills

State   Steven Ertelt   Mar 29, 2012   |   8:09PM    Washington, DC

The Missouri House gave final approval to the Health Care Conscience Rights Bill supported by pro-life groups today on a vote of 113-41.

The bill was sponsored by House Majority Leader Tim Jones and developed by the Missouri Family Policy Council and the Missouri Catholic Conference in consultation with Americans United for Life.

“Dedicated men and women enter the health professions and the medical research community because they care about promoting the health and well-being of patients,” Joe Oertwerth of the Missouri Family Policy Council told LifeNews. “None of these conscientious men and women should ever be put in the predicament of being forced to damage or destroy human life under threat of loss of their livelihood.”

He added, “This bill would ensure that the conscience rights of medical professionals and health care institutions are fully protected under Missouri law.  This proposal would shield health care employees from the moral dilemma of violating their deeply-held religious beliefs or losing their job.  No doctor or nurse should ever be asked to set their conscience aside when they go to work.”

The “specified medical procedures or research” included in the bill are “abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, sterilization, assisted reproduction, human cloning, human embryonic stem-cell research, human somatic cell nuclear transfer, fetal tissue research, and non-therapeutic fetal experimentation.”

Lawmakers added an amendment to the bill that clarifies that no medical professional is relieved from complying with all informed consent requirements in Missouri abortion law and any other lawful requirements or regulations governing their medical profession. That makes it so abortion practitioners can’t decide their conscience compels them to avoid complying with pro-life laws providing women with information about abortion’s risks and alternatives, for example.

Missouri Right to Life also supported the measure and said the legislature rewarded the efforts of over 3,000 people who attended the Rally for Religious Liberty this past Tuesday.

Joining the state House, the Senate passed SB 749, which provides protections against the HHS mandate that all businesses, including religious institutions and those affiliated with such institutions, provide coverage for services that are counter to the moral teachings of that religion. By ensuring that no employer, health plan provider, health plan sponsor, health care provider, or any other person or entity shall be compelled to provide coverage for, or be discriminated against or penalized for declining or refusing coverage for, abortion, contraception, or sterilization in a health plan if such items or procedures are contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such employer, health plan provider, health plan sponsor, health care provider, person, or entity, SB 749 specifically addresses the mandate from the Obama Administration and sends a strong message to Washington.

“The mandate for religious institutions to participate in destroying innocent human life goes against the core religious beliefs of many faiths,” said Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life. “This attack on our religious freedom is in stark opposition to our first amendment right to practice our religion.  Make no mistake, the attack by the Obama Administration has nothing to do with women accessing contraception but is an attack on the religious freedom guaranteed by our Constitution.”

“Missouri Right to Life thanks all the religious leaders and pro-life citizens who united in this cause at the Capitol this past Tuesday and congratulates the members of the Missouri House and Senate who supported this important legislation,” said Fichter.