Missouri House Approves Bill to Define Unborn Baby as a Person and Ban Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 6, 2016   |   2:45PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

The Missouri House approved a measure Thursday that would let voters decide whether to recognize unborn babies as people with rights in the state constitution.

The Kansas City Star reports the legislation passed in a strong 110-37 vote, and now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Missouri House Joint Resolution 98 would amend the state constitution to “protect pregnant women and unborn children by recognizing that an unborn child is a person with a right to life which cannot be deprived by state or private action without due process and equal protection of law.” If approved by both houses, the resolution would be put on the November ballot for voters’ approval.

Some believe the resolution would ban abortions completely in Missouri, but state Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, who proposed the measure, is unsure. He previously said the resolution would lay the groundwork for laws or litigation to end abortion in the future, but it likely would not ban abortions right away because of Roe v. Wade.

In a news release, Moon urged pro-lifers to speak up for the rights of unborn babies and support the legislation. He said the U.S. Supreme Court has wrongly ruled about personhood in the past, and compared Roe to the Dred Scott case, which refused to recognize African Americans as people.

“The silence of those who want to protect the unborn is similar to the silence of Germans who stood by and allowed Jewish people to be slaughtered by the Nazis,” Moon said.

The News-Leader reports more about Moon’s remarks Thursday during the House debate:

“In the Roe v. Wade decision, Justice Blackmun wrote that the court rejected personhood (for an unborn child), however, he conceded that if personhood were recognized the court would be required to reverse its decision. That’s in essence what we’re looking to do with this resolution …”

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Opponents of the bill have said the proposed change is unconstitutional and would be struck down in the courts. But if passed into law, the measure could make it harder for women to access not just abortions, but also some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

“One of the biggest problems is it is so broad. We don’t know what this means in terms of what women are going to be able to do with birth control,” said Rachel Goldberg, a NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri member from Springfield who spoke to the News-Leader last month.

The NAACP also criticized Moon for comparing slavery to abortion. Springfield NAACP President Cheryl Clay told the News-Leader that the comparison “is just unbelievable almost to me. I don’t see how you can compare those two issues at all.”

The resolution faces obstacles as it moves forward. News outlets predict that Senate Democrats may filibuster or delay it, and the Missouri legislative session is almost over.

A number of other states, including Alabama and Oklahoma are considering similar measures to ban abortion altogether. However, these measures are highly unlikely to become law. Because of the current political climate and the precedents set in the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, courts would almost certainly strike down the measures. In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a similar personhood bill as unconstitutional.

The key to ending legalized abortion is overturning Roe v. Wade, and the current Supreme Court justices are highly unlikely to do so, especially after the unexpected death of pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia. Three of the justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, likely would vote to overturn Roe and return abortion laws back to the authority of the states; but five of the other justices almost certainly would not. Scalia’s seat on the high court remains empty. Pro-abortion President Barack Obama recently nominated Merrick Garland to the high court, but pro-lifers believe he is pro-abortion and oppose his nomination.

To overturn Roe and make abortion illegal again, Americans need to elect a pro-life president and U.S. Senators who will put pro-life judges on the high court. This would pave the way for the reversal of Roe and a return to a country that protects every human life.