Missouri - Caution needed on Blunt's call for special session on abortion law

Dianne N. Irving
Copyright May 13, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

The following article includes a perfect example of deceptive legislative loopholes that become "stari decisis" and that are encouraged and recognized as such. Prolife officials in Missouri are rightfully seeking to modify the abortion language in the old Missouri law:

"The provision in question would have changed the state's policy of recognizing the right to life of 'all humans, born and unborn' to instead say 'all humans, whether in utero or not.'"

While it is obviously desirable to protect the right to life of all innocent human beings while they are in utero as well as when they are born, consider the consequences of the popular (but grossly erroneous) claim that there is no human being present until implantation. That is, while the embryo is moving through the fallopian tube toward the uterus, it is just a "ball of cells" or a "pre-embryo" -- but not a human being, a human organism (pace Irving Weissman, Michael West, et al). The old passe language in the state's policies would not prevent these new living human beings from being "flushed" from the fallopian tube (as is done in animal research all the time), researched on and killed, since they never had a chance to make it to the uterus. Killing these human beings would clearly be tantamount to abortion -- i.e., they would be killed.

[Similarly, prolife needs to cease using the exploitive phrase, "from conception to natural death", as such language too excludes naturally conceived human monozygotic twins, as well as all other human beings reproduced asexually.]

Consider too that research on the near horizon includes the ability to reproduce new living human embryos entirely in vitro who would not develop "in utero" or be "born" in the traditional sense, e.g., those developed in artificial wombs or in the wombs of animal surrogates (e.g., apes, orangutans, etc.). (See how close such research is in the literature). As morally shocking many would find such research, the technology is almost there, is discussed and reported daily in the scientific literature, and needs to be acknowledged and dealt with responsibly and legislatively now. Killing these living human beings would be tantamount to abortion as well -- i.e., they would be killed. The Brave New World has been around for many decades, and it is time for old laws to catch up with this rude reality.

The "place of residence" of these innocent living human beings is totally irrelevant to the fact that they can be killed. That is why the proposed changes to the old law are so critically necessary if prolife truly wants to protect the right to life of every human being. To not legally protect these nascent living human beings would be to leave the legal doors open for their exploitation in massive research involving not just stem cell research where the human embryos supplying the stem cells are reproduced by fertilization (sexual reproduction), but also stem cell research where the human embryos are reproduced by multiple kinds of cloning techniques, as well as a myriad of genetic engineering techniques (asexual reproduction). What a bonanza for researchers who will do and would say anything to make a buck and rack up lucrative patents! Needless to say, the molecular "by-products" derived from these living human embryos would also constitute a bonanza for the drug industry. No wonder the Stowers Institute seems to be allowed to play head referee to the Missouri legislature.


Posted on Fri, May. 13, 2005


Associated Press

Blunt to call special session on abortion legislation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Gov. Matt Blunt said he will call a special session on anti-abortion legislation after the Legislature adjourned Friday without passing wide-ranging bills aimed at discouraging abortions.

Blunt's announcement came just moments after the House adjourned and just seconds before the closing gavel banged in the Senate, where the abortion legislation stalled without coming to a final vote.

Blunt blamed the defeat on the leadership of the state's largest anti-abortion group, Missouri Right to Life, which conversely criticized Blunt for the demise of the legislation.

The Republican governor said the special session would be held in September, when lawmakers are scheduled to return to consider any vetoes. Legislative leaders welcomed the special session, as did Missouri Right to Life.

Missouri's Legislature has an overwhelming anti-abortion majority - claiming 128 of the 162 House seats and 28 of the 34 Senate seats. Endorsements by Missouri Right to Life have carried significant sway among some voters.

Considering that, Missouri Right to Life and other anti-abortion groups asserted that the failed legislation did not go far enough in its abortion restrictions.

A broader bill previously passed in the Senate had been pared back in a House committee at Blunt's urging; a separate House-passed bill was similarly scaled back in a Senate Committee.

Blunt said he intervened because the bills had stalled, and he expressed concerns about a provision that he feared could negatively affect stem cell research. Similar concerns had been raised by the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, which conducts stem cell research.

Missouri Right to Life tried to persuade lawmakers to reject the scaled down versions and instead pass legislation containing the language Blunt opposed.

The provision in question would have changed the state's policy of recognizing the right to life of "all humans, born and unborn" to instead say "all humans, whether in utero or not."

Stowers lobbyist Jorgen Schlemeier said the institute was uncertain about the effect of the language, but feared it could have "a serious chilling effect" on a form of stem cell research known as therapeutic cloning - which opponents contend amounts to the destruction of human life.

As the session drew to a close, Missouri Right to Life President Pam Fichter declared it "abysmal" and "profoundly disappointing."

"We have the largest pro-life bipartisan majority ever elected, and they could not get pro-life legislation through, and this to me is attributable to Gov. Blunt," Fichter said.

But Blunt pinned the failure squarely on the state's largest anti-abortion lobbying group.

"I am profoundly disappointed in the leaders of Missouri Right to Life for their efforts to defeat two good pro-life bills that would have become the law and protected the lives of unborn children but for the group's tragic and bizarre tactic of working against pro-life legislation," Blunt said in a statement announcing the special session.

Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, also blamed anti-abortion lobbyists for the failure of their priority legislation.

"People outside thought they had control of the process," Gibbons said. But "this is clearly a pro-life General Assembly."

House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, called the special session "a great idea," adding: "We are committed to stopping abortions in the state."

At the core of the anti-abortion legislation was a provision allowing parents to sue anyone helping their minor daughters get abortions in violation of Missouri's parental consent law. Supporters said the intent was to target people who help teens get abortions in Illinois, which has no parental consent law.

The U.S. House passed a bill last month that would make it a federal crime punishable by a fine and jail time for an adult to take a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion in avoidance of state parental notification requirements. That bill is pending in the U.S. Senate.

Other parts of the Missouri legislation would have required physicians performing abortions to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, or else face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. The bills also would have declared abortion clinics ambulatory surgical centers, making them subject to increased regulations from the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region contended those provisions could have jeopardized smaller clinics in Missouri.

Other provisions in the legislation were intended to prohibit Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving state money or from distributing sexual education materials to public school students.

The measure also would have removed the requirement that school courses on human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases include information about contraception. Instead, course materials would have referred students to their doctors for any information on contraception, abortion and pregnancy.

The bills also would have created a state income tax credit for donations to nonprofit centers that encourage women to carry their pregnancies to term.

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