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Opinion: Missouri Right to Life is Wrong on its Choice

  

Missouri is a solid pro-life state. Over time, legislation has been passed and restrictions implemented which have shut down facilities and made abortion rare, if not illegal, in our state. 

I believe most people understand abortion is taking the life of a child and it is wrong. From the Senate side of the General Assembly I can tell you that Republicans will support strong abortion restriction as evidenced by passing the Heartbeat Bill a few years ago; one of the most restrictive in the nation. Missouri Republican state senators support life.

Two years ago a fight erupted in the Missouri senate over the extension of the Federal Reimbursement Allowance, which is a tax levied on hospitals and nursing homes, among others, and is used to draw down about $2 billion. The issue started when an amendment was attached to the proposed extension which was intended to “defund Planned Parenthood”. Myself, and many Senators, feel that we have already defunded Planned Parenthood to the extent possible. Put simply, there were two opposing opinions on whether that measure would be constitutional by rules implemented and monitored by the Biden administration. 

After hours of lecturing and posturing by the amendment sponsor, the advice that Republican Senators received was if this “pro-life” amendment was attached to the FRA it might be viewed as non responsive to rules for the federal money discussed before, and that money could be “clawed back” by the federal government. This could mean money already obligated to nursing homes, sheltered workshops, and the like could be withdrawn. Most of these facilities are already operating on a very restricted budget and they are serving a vulnerable population that doesn’t have alternative options. 

This put Senators between a rock and a hard place. The amendment was introduced and while I voted for it, the measure failed. I believe this was because Senators were unwilling to risk vulnerable populations and had not seen any legal interpretation which would protect them. Hours later the FRA was extended, and I voted for it. MRL apparently wanted that extension to be voted down thus jeopardizing our nursing homes, sheltered workshops, etc. I didn’t feel it would be very pro-life for me to endanger Missourians dependent on this federal money. I believe life at any age should be protected. 

Missouri Right to Life has decided not to endorse many of the sitting Senators over this issue, myself included. That is their right to endorse who they choose. Yet I feel they have exceeded their mission and have now alienated a large segment of the Missouri Senate. The two issues you can generally count on full support of from me are the protection of life and guns. The explanation MRL gives includes this statement, “We refused to accept we need a permission slip from the Biden administration to protect babies within our own state borders and with our own tax money.” My response to that would be the current administration does what they want, when they want, and their political goals trump everything else. We see this on a daily basis, and punishing Senators for understanding this and being cognizant of it does not strengthen your cause. In fact, it weakens it, especially when the endorsements don’t reflect the pro-life votes of legislators. 

Moreover, every single Senator that MRL is not endorsing committed to staying up all night and, if necessary, using the uncommon motion of moving the Previous Question to pass the Heartbeat Bill back in 2019. This is labeled the “Nuclear Option” and is used in only the most extreme cases. That seems pretty pro-life to me.