JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – About 100 pro-life activists gathered in the Capitol rotunda yesterday with a large group of legislators to rally to “Stand Up for Life and Life Affirming Legislators,” as well as “getting Mizzou out” of the “abortion business.”
The rally was opened in a prayer led by a monk, with Senators Eric Schmitt, Kurt Schaefer, Bob Onder, David Sater, Jeannie Riddle, and Will Kraus speaking next. Each legislator was given a certificate showing appreciation for their support of pro-life causes.
Representatives Diane Franklin, Mike Moon, Cloria Brown, Donna Lichtenegger, Tila Hubrecht, and more joined the rally, each speaking and inciting loud applause and support. Moon called on an end to abortion in Missouri, touting that Missouri’s constitution states that life begins at conception (Section 1.205.1). Representatives in the audience shared that they were amazed that “Mizzou could be so stupid” to put “such a bullseye” on their backs.
Additional legislators from both chambers attended.
Speakers denounced Mizzou’s involvement with Planned Parenthood behind a podium adorned with a hot pink sign which read “GET MIZZOU OUT OF THE ABORTION BUSINESS.” Schaefer gave a report of the Sanctity of Life committee’s progress in findings, while Onder called on DOR to revoke the Columbia Planned Parenthood’s ambulatory surgical center license. The senators expressed frustration with the University of Missouri for their involvement in the Columbia Planned Parenthood and disgust at the recent videos that have emerged, pointing to the allusion to the St. Louis clinic.
Maria Juarez, Mizzou Students for Life board member, also spoke, garnering significant applause. Also present were Bridget Van Means, president of Thrive St. Louis; Mike Hoey, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference; Karen Nolkemper, director for the Archdiocese of St. Louis’s Respect Life Apostolate; Brian Westbrook, executive director of the St. Louis Coalition for Life; Susan Klein, legislative liaison for Missouri Right to Life; and Jon-Michael Rutter, whose mom scheduled an abortion to end his life; Sharonda Donner, whose sister was harmed by Planned Parenthood; and Zina Hackworth, founder “This Race Will Self-Destruct”, and a “More Rebellious Members.”
In breaks between speakers, Students for Life from the Saint Louis Priory School engaged in a chant of “M-I-Z Z-O-U, we love babies, how bout you?”
As the rally went on, the audience became more and more energized and giving repeated standing ovations.
Organizers included Kathy Forck, co-campaign director for the 40 Days of Life campaign – which has led the events at the Columbia Planned Parenthood. Rally volunteers gathered signatures of support for legislation to be sponsored by Rep. Moon to attempt to ban abortion in the state.
“The event is all the more timely due to the ongoing release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the illegal sale of aborted body parts for research and the University of Missouri Hospital granting privileges to a St Louis abortion doctor enabling Columbia Planned Parenthood to get back into the abortion business,” read a release from Forck.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.