Pro-life language would be codified in the Missouri Constitution under several proposals introduced in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
- SJR 8 proposes a constitutional amendment, which would require a statewide vote, that would prevent the Missouri government from funding abortion providers or their affiliates.
- SB 160 proposes a similar concept, although in statute instead of as a constitutional amendment.
- SJR 19 would amend the state constitution after a statewide vote to prevent any part of it being misconstrued to protect abortion.
Testifying in support of the proposals were representatives from Missouri for Life, the Missouri Catholic Conference and other pro-life organizations. They argued that abortion is now illegal in Missouri, so funding it should be as well. Several witnesses voiced concerns about Medicaid funding going to Planned Parenthood.
Samuel Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri, said Planned Parenthood is a “provider and promoter” of abortions. He also raised concerns about Medicaid-funded abortions, which are not possible under the federal Hyde Amendment, except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. In Missouri, abortion is available only in cases of life endangerment.
Vanessa Wellberry, vice president of policy and advocacy for Planned Parenthood, said she is concerned about language that would deny funding and Medicaid coverage to abortion provider affiliates. Other witnesses in opposition from the Missouri Family Health Council and Pro Choice Missouri shared their concerns about access to birth control, pap smears and mammograms if Planned Parenthood lost funding. But those concerns have been rebutted because the services are easily provided elsewhere. Planned Parenthood, however, makes most of its income from abortion services.
Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, who sponsored SJR 19, asked why they were concerned about loss of funding for facilities that do not provide abortions. Moon argued that abortion has caused Missouri to lose potential population. When questioned by Sen. Jill Carter, R-Granby, he denied that this resolution was driven by religious talking points. Moon said life begins at conception, saying, “It’s a scientific fact.”
House Democrats released a statement after the hearing noting they have proposed nine different bills to protect access to birth control, abortion and medically accurate information regarding reproductive health.
–Dwight Wiaman | Metro Voice