Catholics throughout Missouri are being urged to contact their state lawmakers and Gov. Eric Greitens and thank them for working together to pass some of the most significant pro-life legislation in a generation.
Gov. Greitens signed the latest version of Senate Bill 5 (HCS SS SB 5) into law on July 26, one day after the Senate voted 22 to 9 to pass it.
The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), public policy agency for the state’s four Roman Catholic dioceses, worked cooperatively with Missouri Right to Life, Campaign Life Missouri, and others to spearhead passage of the bill.
“This is the strongest pro-life law passed in many decades,” said MCC Executive Director Mike Hoey. “We are very grateful for the work of both Gov. Greitens and the Missouri General Assembly.”
The new law, which takes effect Oct. 23, features numerous pro-life provisions, including:
•requiring annual, on-site, and unannounced inspections of abortion clinics and for clinics to have emergency measures in place for botched abortions;
•ensuring that women hear medical information from a doctor before deciding whether to obtain an abortion;
•largely overturning the St. Louis “abortion sanctuary” ordinance, and
•prohibiting other municipalities from passing similar ordinances.
In addition, the new law will allow the Missouri Attorney General to enforce the state’s abortion laws when local prosecutors fail to do so.
Gov. Greitens called lawmakers into special session in June to address the St. Louis ordinance and enact stronger rules for abortion providers in the state.
The governor’s signature on the bill was never in doubt, but passage by the Missouri Senate was.
The Senate had passed an earlier version of SB 5 on June 15 that largely focused on overturning the St. Louis “abortion sanctuary” ordinance. That ordinance, passed by the city’s board of aldermen, sought to force pregnancy resource centers and regular citizens to aid and abet the abortion industry.
The Missouri House kept the rollback on the “abortion sanctuary” provision in SB 5 and added many other pro-life provisions.
When the Senate took up the House amended version of SB 5, opponents waged a two-day filibuster before state Sen. Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester), the bill’s Senate sponsor, made a motion to end debate and proceed to a vote on the bill.
Nineteen senators agreed to the Koenig motion, despite a Senate tradition of rarely ending debate by calling for the previous question.
The following state senators who represent portions of the Jefferson City diocese voted in favor of cutting off debate and voting on the final version of HCS SS SB 5:
Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla); Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg); Sen. Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City); Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown); Sen. Jeanie Riddle (R-Fulton); Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia).
No senators who represent portions of the diocese voted against cutting off debate.
With delaying tactics put aside, the Senate then approved the measure by a vote of 22 in favor to 9 opposed.
The following senators representing portions of the Jefferson City diocese voted in favor of passing the final version of HCS SS SB 5 into law: Sen. Brown, Sen Hoskins, Sen. Kehoe, Sen. Munzlinger, Sen. Riddle and Sen. Rowden.
No senators who represent portions of the diocese voted against final passage of the bill.
Mr. Hoey credited parishes and the Missouri Catholic Advocacy Network (MOCAN) for a great deal of the success.
“There was tremendous reluctance to end debate, but I think senators realized their constituents back home expected passage of this historic pro-life bill,” he said.
Numerous senators indicated having heard from their constituents, urging them to promptly pass HCS SS SB 5, he said.
One of the reasons Gov. Greitens gave for calling lawmakers into special session after the regular legislative session ended in May was to address the St. Louis “abortion sanctuary” ordinance and the effect it would have on pro-life pregnancy care centers in the city.
“Today is a great victory for pregnancy care centers that help women and children all over the state,” he stated upon signing SB 5.
“I’m proud that many of Missouri’s lawmakers stood strong to protect the lives of the innocent unborn and women’s health,” he said.
Sen. Kehoe, Senate majority floor leader and a member of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City, said he appreciates the governor’s leadership on this issue.
“I also want to thank all of my colleagues, in both the House and the Senate, for their work on this bill,” he said.
He said the version of the bill the Senate passed in June was good but that the amended version sent back by the House and finally passed is even better.
“I was pleased to vote for SB 5 to protect women and to promote a culture of life in Missouri,” he said.
Mike and Kathy Forck, leaders for the Team PLAY pro-life coalition and the Central Missouri 40 Days for Life campaign, called SB 5 “one of the most life-affirming bills ever.”
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, today praised Missouri lawmakers for passing pro-life legislation that will protect women’s health.
“The new legislation approved in Missouri’s special session clearly draws a line between those who want to protect women and those who want to protect the abortion industry,” he said.
Mr. Hoey said the MCC is grateful to the governor for calling the special session, and to the Missouri senators and representatives “who worked tirelessly to pass this historic bill and uphold the sanctity of life.”
“After the passage of SB 5, Missouri is once again one of our nation’s strongest prolife leaders,” he said.
People wishing to thank their senators for voting in favor of the bill can do so on the MCC website at www.mocatholic.org or by going directly to: www.votervoice.net/MOCATHOLIC/campaigns/53815/respond
The MCC provided much of the information in this article.