Legislative Column for July 1, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY - I am, 100 percent, without a doubt a pro-life senator. I believe the State of Missouri has a duty to help provide for the most vulnerable among us, a duty that extends to protecting the lives of the unborn and defending the sanctity of innocent human life. I believe we also have a duty to provide women, who find themselves in a desperate situation, with the resources and education they will need during that difficult time. Such a commitment to these innocent Missourians demonstrates in a very tangible way our belief that every life is valuable.

In 2014, the Legislature successfully overrode the governor’s veto of a 72-hour waiting period pro-life bill. This session we followed up on that success by taking action focused on creating a reliable and robust funding source for women seeking abortion alternatives.

In April, the Legislature passed a budget that secured funding for services for pregnant women at risk for abortion, as well as $2.6 million to fully fund the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Program. Those funds will help support the state’s maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers. We also gave additional funding to Show-Me-Healthy Babies, a program that ensures low-income mothers with an unborn child receives adequate health care through the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Funding these pro-life programs are some of the first steps we can take to save the lives of unborn children and help pregnant mothers who are considering abortion.

As part of the General Assembly’s efforts to reform welfare this past session, we added a provision that will guarantee nearly $4.34 million in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds to promote healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood. The bill was originally vetoed by the governor, but the Legislature overrode his veto in early May. Many of those provisions will take effect next year, making Missouri one of the states with the largest funding commitments to abortion alternatives. I believe that many of our society’s problems start in the home and by strengthening families, we are strengthening Missouri.

We have made some great strides in the last few years passing pro-life legislation and the proof is in the numbers. According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, from 2009 – 2013 abortion and abortion rates in Missouri have continued to decrease. We have also seen significant increases in the number of maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers in the Show-Me State and no new abortion facilities have surfaced.

While reducing the number of abortions is critically important, we must also educate our citizens about pro-life issues, work to secure funding for programs that defend the sanctity of innocent human life and help provide resources to the women who have made the heroic choice to keep their babies in the midst of difficult circumstances.

I always appreciate hearing from you. If you have any questions about the topics discussed above, or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.