Abortions down in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY – Recent statistics show an apparent decrease in state abortions, but leaders from Missouri Right to Life (MRL) caution citizens against celebrating too soon.

In 2011, according to the latest statistics from the Missouri Department of Health, the number of abortions in Missouri reached 9,234. While this number is still too high for pro-life advocates, it is less than half of the 21,671 abortions reported in 1980. By recent comparison, there were 9,796 reported abortions in 2010 and 10,815 in 2009.

Such statistics show an apparent downward trend in abortions. Yet “apparent” is the operative word, said Susan Klein, legislative liaison for MRL.

“We believe there are some places underreporting abortions, that the numbers are skewed because of the abortion industry reporting to the Department of Health. Now there are chemical abortions and ‘morning-after’ pills. It’s probably astronomical,” Klein said.

With just one abortion clinic left in Missouri, Klein said MRL wants legislation for stronger abortion clinic inspections, to back up laws previously passed.

“We can’t depend just on the legislature. It depends who is in power. We need to put something in the statutes,” Klein said.

This year, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) will work with pro-life organizations like MRL for additional legislation that protects life, said MBC Director of Public Policy Don Hinkle.

“There are any number of possibilities when it comes to new pro-life legislation and we must do all we can to protect the unborn in Missouri,” Hinkle said.

Following are possible issues that pro-life organizations like the MBC and MRL may discuss with lawmakers:

• Changing a 24-hour waiting period for abortions to 72 hours. “This gives women more time to make the decision and us to get information in their hands,” Klein said.

• Securing continued funds for alternatives to abortion, such as tax credits for pregnancy resource centers.

• Limiting Medicaid expansion, since federal tax money already is used for Medicaid client abortions. Klein said MRL is looking at a prioritization system of qualified clinics.

• Ensuring that state economic development funds go to support adult stem cell research without funding embryo-killing stem cell research.

• Securing a ban on sex-selection abortions.

• Protecting pregnancy resource centers from harassment.

• Watching for equal rights legislation that seeks to funnel state funds for abortions.

“We’re always looking for ways to create legislation to assure the abortion industry does not take advantage of women in a crisis situation,” Klein said, adding, “We’ve had great success in 2013. The (Missouri) House and Senate have been open to working with us.”

One example is the ban on web-cam abortions.

“Abortion clinics are having trouble finding abortionists to come and stay. Web cam abortions are where an abortionist gives video advice to a pregnant woman to take various pills without examining the woman,” Klein explained.

Another legislative success was protection for pharmacy owners who morally oppose carrying abortion-inducing medicines. Klein said MRL worked for several years on this and would like to have protection for individual pharmacists, as well.

Still another new law adds pregnancy resource centers as places where a new baby, now up to 45 days old can be safely left without question.

“That baby will be given to a family that will love that baby and give it a life,” Klein said.

Currently, the MRL is coordinating the 41st annual March for Life bus caravan to Washington D.C., Jan. 21-23. Klein said that the Missouri contingent, largely subsidized by Catholics, is also supported by Protestant participants and usually includes seven official buses, plus an unknown number of other buses and private vehicles. Missouri usually sends thousands of people to join the crowd of several hundred-thousand marchers. Senator Roy Blunt will meet with the Missouri group in Washington.

“We try to rally in St. Louis before we caravan. The march has occurred in all kinds of weather,” Klein said. “We are very focused. We are the voice for the unborn.”

Klein said the MRL has also opposed the so-called Affordable Healthcare Act, commonly called Obamacare, explaining that it “creates health rationing.” Of course, they also oppose Obamacare’s mandate requiring companies to provide insurance for abortifacients.

“A few years ago, Missouri did pass the opt-out for abortion funding for insurance company policies and riders,” Klein said.

She added that MRL will watch Hobby Lobby’s case before the United States Supreme Court later this year – a case in which Hobby Lobby contests Obamacare’s insurance mandate since it would require this family business to act against the religious convictions of its owners. Klein believes that the outcome of this case will impact what legislators can do.

Jan. 22 is the 41st anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions in the United States. Since that decision, more than 56 million babies have been aborted. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan founded National Sanctity of Life Day to remember the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since that time, pro-life advocates have designated a month to support pro-life policies.