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Senate proposes multiple FRA reauthorization bills; Right to Life opposes separating out pro-life language

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Sen. Dan Hegeman unveiled three different bills dealing with FRA reauthorization and pro-life language Wednesday afternoon as the extraordinary session kicked off, but Missouri Right to Life has said it will only support one combined bill. 

From Hegeman, one bill is a clean FRA reauthorization. SB 2 includes language prohibiting abortion facilities and affiliates from eligibility under the Uninsured Women’s Health Program and prohibits certain drugs (including emergency contraceptives) from Medicaid coverage when used to induce an abortion. SB 1 combines the two. 

The three bills appeared to be a surprise to some senators. Sen. Paul Wieland said he was “alarmed” and implored Hegeman to treat them all with the same dedication. Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, too, said he was not aware of Hegeman’s plan to introduce the trio of bills and put forth his own legislation for a clean FRA reauthorization Wednesday. 

Susan Klein, executive director of Missouri Right to Life, said the state’s pro-life organization would not support “a separate bill on pro-life issues in special session.” 

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz said the idea of the three different bills would be to provide different options for the Senate to work on during the special session. Republicans have been at loggerheads this year — from the regular session to the governor’s call for the extraordinary session — over pro-life language to attach to the reauthorization of the Medicaid tax. 

Sen. Brian Williams, a Democrat, criticized Republicans who have voted for clean FRA reauthorization bills in the past but have said they will refuse to do so this go-round. 

“I’m just really confused by it, and I don’t think it’s genuine,” Williams said. “I don’t think it’s about being pro-life. I think it’s about political pandering. I think this is about folks wanting to make headlines over policy.” 

The Senate is set to reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday with an Appropriations Committee scheduled for 1:15 p.m. for Hegeman’s three bills. 

Sen. Denny Hoskins also put forth a bill to ban the teaching of so-called critical race theory in public schools.

Sen. Denny Hoskins also put forth a bill to ban the teaching of so-called critical race theory in public schools. While critical race theory is a complicated issue — one with many definitions — Hoskins’ bill would ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” such as one race or sex is more superior, the U.S. is fundamentally racist or sexist, a person is fundamentally sexist or racist, or a person should feel discomfort or guilt because of their race or sex, among other things. 

While it’s not a new concept, Republicans nationwide have vociferously called for a ban on critical race theory teachings of late. 

Hoskins and Onder used the bill as an example that the Senate could pass legislation that goes beyond the governor’s special session call, setting Onder up to introduce amendments further restricting Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding during floor debate this week. 

“I think there’s no question, if there is a vote to defund abortion providers and their affiliates — we have 24 Republican members, every one of which ran as pro-life. Many of them not only ran as pro-life but said, ‘hey, I’m more pro-life than my opponent,’” Onder said. “I don’t think a single one … ran on the idea that we need to fund Planned Parenthood.”

Onder was critical of the language included in the governor’s extraordinary session call Tuesday. He said it would not target Planned Parenthood as a whole but would only relate to one St. Louis facility which is “basically closed anyway.” He said the language should mandate “abortion providers and their affiliates” be excluded from the entire Medicaid program instead of just one plan. 

Additionally, Onder took umbrage with the language in the special session call excluding “abortifacient drugs or devices” from family planning services. It listed ella, IUDs, and Plan B but stipulated specifically “when used to induce an abortion.” Since state statute already outlaws public funding of abortion, this section is “meaningless,” Onder had said.

A tentative schedule for the House provided to The Missouri Times showed a technical session for Monday and Tuesday with session convening Wednesday morning.