Helping mothers and children is a top priority for Missouri state lawmakers in this new year.
The pro-life Republican legislature has advanced several bills already this January to protect children, born and unborn, including one to defund the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood of tax dollars and another to create nurseries in women’s prisons to help mothers choose life for their babies.
Both bills passed committee votes in the state House this week.
State House Bill 1854, sponsored by state Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, would strip tax dollars from the largest abortion chain in the nation. Planned Parenthood reports billion-dollar revenues while aborting more than 350,000 unborn babies a year.
On Thursday, the House Committee on Government Oversight approved the bill in a party-line vote, Newstalk KZRG reports. It now moves to a second committee for consideration.
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The legislation would disqualify abortion groups and their affiliates from receiving state Medicaid funds through the state Department of Health and Senior Services. The bill also would disqualify entities from the taxpayer-funded program if there is a “conviction of crimes related to fraud and patient care” or if they show “patterns of discrimination,” according to the bill summary.
For years, lawmakers in Missouri and other states have been trying to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups of tax dollars, but only a few have succeeded. In many cases, their efforts have been thwarted by pro-abortion lawmakers and court orders from activist judges. Now, Missouri lawmakers are trying a different strategy to ensure that taxpayers’ money does not support the killing of unborn babies in abortions.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers also are working on new ways to help mothers choose life for their unborn babies in difficult circumstances. A bill that passed the state House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday would establish a “Correctional Center Nursery Program” for mothers of infants who are incarcerated, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
The legislation has support from a wide variety of advocacy groups, including state pro-life organizations. Earlier this month, Samuel H. Lee of Campaign Life Missouri told lawmakers that the program could help stop abortions by giving incarcerated pregnant women hope and practical assistance.
“If incarcerated women have a ‘constitutional’ right to an abortion, how much more should moms in prison be given the right to love and nurture their child if they choose not to have an abortion,” Lee said.
State lawmakers also are considering a pro-life bill to prohibit aborted babies’ bodies from being sold or donated to research, the Columbia Missourian reports.
Additionally, state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, recently introduced a Texas-style bill that would ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. In 2019, Missouri lawmakers passed a similar pro-life law, but the courts blocked it.
Coleman’s legislation includes a private enforcement mechanism modeled after the Texas law that allows individuals to file lawsuits against abortionists and those who help them abort unborn babies in violation of the ban. It is because of this unique measure that the Texas law has been in effect since September, saving thousands of babies’ lives.
“When I saw that the Supreme Court let it go into effect, it was an immediate, ‘Okay, we have to do this here in Missouri as well, because each and every day, lives will be saved,’” Coleman told Live Action News.
Missourians support legal protections for unborn babies, and it likely would be one of 26 states that would ban abortions completely if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
A 2021 poll from Saint Louis University/YouGov found that 56 percent of Missourians support legislation to ban abortions after eight weeks, including 57 percent of women. In contrast, 33 percent said they oppose such legislation and 11 percent said they are not sure. Other recent polls show support for the Texas heartbeat law as well.
Since 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court has forced states to legalize abortion on demand under Roe v. Wade. States that want to protect unborn babies may only do so once they reach the point of viability, currently about 22 weeks. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.
The Supreme Court recently heard a Mississippi case that directly challenges Roe, but the justices are not expected to issue a ruling until June.