Missouri Senate Holding Bill for Pregnancy Centers Hostage

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 1, 2011   |   7:53PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

The Missouri state Senate is being accused of holding hostage to a bill that would help pregnancy centers in the state. Although SB 204 has 25 co-sponsoring state Senators, in the 34-member Missouri state Senate, the bill failed to move forward.

SB 204 continues an existing tax credit that Missouri residents can claim when making a contribution to a pregnancy resource center to help women find abortion alternatives. However, the legislation is facing an uncertain future.

The pregnancy resource center credit allows a donor to take a tax credit for up to 50% of their donation and has been responsible for helping pregnancy centers save the lives of unborn children by providing pregnancy testing, counseling, emotional and material support and other services to assist women in carrying their pregnancies to term.

“When Senator Tom Dempsey, the sponsor and the majority floor leader, brought SB 204 up for debate this week, he was asked by several senators to lay the bill over, effectively ending debate and a possible vote on the legislation,” the Missouri Catholic Conference says. “Fortunately, Senator Dempsey can bring his bill back up for debate and a vote at any time. There is no reason why this pro-life bill should be filibustered or denied a vote.”

“Without the PRC credit donations would likely decline, meaning these centers would not be able to help as many women and their unborn children,” the MCC said.

Because no more than $2 million in tax credits can be claimed in any one year, the MCC says the pregnancy center credit is less taxing on the state budget than other tax credits, such as the historic preservation credit which cost the state $186,426,164 in 2009.

“Credits like the one for historic preservation merit serious review, but some state senators are not distinguishing among the various credits. They oppose reauthorizing any of the tax credits until tax credit reform is enacted by the general assembly,” MCC says. “An amendment (floor substitute) may be offered to SB 204 that would expand the scope of the legislation and attempt a massive reform of all tax credits. Such a move will bog down debate on the bill and could derail its passage by the Missouri Senate. The MCC supports tax credit reform but holding the PRC credit hostage until reform occurs is unreasonable and puts unborn children at risk.”

“Providing pregnant women with resources to assist them with their crisis pregnancies is good public policy, and is the right thing to do.  This tax credit represents a fiscally sound way of assisting these women that will pay dividends in the future,” the pro-life group says.

Missouri Right to Life is also concerned and also sent out an action alert to state residents to urge their lawmakers to support the pregnancy center tax credit.

“These tax credits have been a great resource for our PRC’s to raise funds to help women in crisis pregnancies choose life for their babies. These tax credits are due to expire in 2012,” the group said in an email to LifeNews.com. “The bill is on the Missouri Senate calendar and could be brought up for debate at any time.”

“Please contact your Missouri State Senator and ask him/her to vote in favor of SB 204,” the organization said.

Former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt signed the bill into law in 2006 allowing donors to crisis pregnancy centers to be eligible for state tax breaks provided the donations go to groups that do not perform abortions or refer women to abortion centers.

“These are resource centers that truly do believe that we should have a culture that values human life,” Blunt said as he signed the bill. “And they’re helping to build that culture all across our state.”