Senator David Sater’s Capitol Report for the Week of June 19: A Pro-Life Special Session

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A Pro-Life Special Session

Last week the Senate again convened for an extraordinary, or special, session. This is the second special session since the Missouri General Assembly completed the regular legislative session back in early May. Per the Missouri Constitution, a special session is typically called by the governor for a maximum of 60 days at any time (although there is an allowance in the constitution for the Legislature to call itself into special session), and only those subjects specified by the governor in his call or message can be considered. During my time in the House and the Senate, numerous special sessions have been called for a wide variety of subjects, and they usually don’t last long, with most wrapping up in a week or less.

This special session was called specifically to address pro-life legislation that either was blocked during the regular session or is needed in response to a recent court decision. One of the issues in governor’s call was one I wrote about a few months ago and that was addressed in a bill passed by the committee I chair, the Senate Seniors, Families, and Children Committee, not once but twice during the regular session. Earlier this year, St. Louis passed an ordinance targeting pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes. These facilities are great assets to expectant mothers, offering free counseling and services and free housing to pregnant women and their children. The St. Louis ordinance is an unconstitutional attempt to deny pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes their First Amendment rights by penalizing them for refusing to hire someone who would work against their goal of helping women to bring their pregnancies to full term. The solution is a state law that would preempt cities, counties and other political subdivisions from enacting laws that interfere with the speech, religious practices or right of alternatives-to-abortion agencies and their staff and volunteers to assemble. No one should be forced to violate their deeply-held beliefs to satisfy the interests of abortion supporters in St. Louis or anywhere else in Missouri. This is an important defense of the First Amendment rights of these facilities in their noble work of protecting the lives of unborn children in Missouri.

Also in the governor’s special session call was language from a bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, during the regular session, called the “Women’s Health and Clinic Safety Act.” This came in response to the shocking and disturbing videos showing Planned Parenthood employees and executives discussing the harvesting and selling of the body parts of unborn children. The Sanctity of Life Committee, which I vice-chaired, investigated this and found out there is no record keeping and nobody knows what happens to an aborted child at Planned Parenthood. Senator Onder’s language would ensure the body parts of aborted children are not sold or harvested, provide whistleblower protections to abortion clinic employees who report wrongdoing, and require annual inspections of abortion clinics.

In early May, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs blocked several laws the Missouri General Assembly had passed over the years protecting the health and well-being of women and their unborn children. The decision of this unelected and unaccountable judge threw out common-sense laws, such as those requiring doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that abortion clinics follow the same health and safety standards that other health clinics are required to do. The biggest fan of the judge’s ruling was undoubtedly Planned Parenthood, who called the ruling “resounding affirmation we’ve long awaited.” The real world result of this ruling is that abortion clinics will effectively be operating with little-to-no oversight or accountability, and it invites new abortion clinics to open up all over the state. This is not what the people of the 29th District want to see happen in Missouri, and we must fight back.

All of these issues are important in the fight to protect life and ensure Missouri continues to be an example of pro-life policy that others states follow. Therefore, legislation addressing all of these issues was passed by the Senate last week and the House this week with a few minor differences, meaning both chambers will work out those differences at some point in the coming weeks. There is perhaps no other issue I feel more strongly about than protecting children, both in and out of the womb. I sponsored and passed the 72-hour waiting period law a few years ago and created a dedicated funding stream for pro-life pregnancy resource centers and alternative-to-abortion organizations in a bill a year later. I’ve also passed legislation strengthening foster and adoption services in our state, supported bills to streamline and improve efforts to investigate and prevent abuse and neglect of children, and supported legislation to prevent human and sex trafficking.

I am proud of our efforts to protect life and will continue to vote for and sponsor bills that promote the pro-life position. I believe that life begins at conception and that is a position I cannot and will not compromise on. Too many treat this issue as a political football to be punted back and forth or use children as pawns in a political game. That is shameful. These children are human beings, like you and me, and should have access to the same constitutional rights we enjoy — the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480, or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 416, Jefferson City, MO 65101.