Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, pictured at right, visited the Life Choices Clinic in Joplin today to launch her campaign for the Republican slot for governor and to promote her "Life Is Precious" initiative.
"Nothing is more important than fighting for the sanctity of life," Steelman told the staff of the clinic and the small group of media who were assembled.
Reminding everyone of the role she played in the Senate in 1999 in which she helped overturn the then Gov. Mel Carnahan's veto of the Infant Protection Act, Steelman now is campaigning for even tighter laws to protect life.
The previous law helped define "infanticide" as "any act causing the death of an infant when it is outside or pratically outside the womb" and made that act a felony. Carnahan had claimed that further language in the bill was ambiguous. He would have been in agreement with current abortion rights advocates who argue that new laws are part of a legal strategy to establish that life begins at conception and erode the significance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
On the subject of judges, Steelman said that as governor she would appoint strict constructionist judges and not judges who make laws while sitting on the bench--as in California and their re-definition of "marriage."
Current Missouri restrictions on abortion
- The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
- A woman must receive state-directed counseling and then wait 24 hours before a procedure is provide.
- Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.
With reportedly only about five minutes worth of final discussion, the bill introduced by Rep. Bob Onder (R-13) and sponsored by Sen Rob Mayer (R-25) died. What Steelman would like is for Gov. Matt Blunt to call a special session to re-address the bill that in part offered an ultrasound to an expectant mother so that she could hear her baby's heartbeat. SB 1831 also addressed what is termed a "coerced abortion," or one in which the woman is strongly encouraged to terminate the pregnancy. Anyone "abusing or stalking of the woman, committing an offense against the woman or her family; discharging the woman from her employment; or revoking a scholarship awarded to the woman" would have been subject to criminal penalties.
Steelman also said she would like to see protection for pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for the "morning after" pill. This pill for the uninformed is taken when a woman believes that sexual activity the night before may lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Heather Williams, a pharmacist for a Target store in St. Charles was fired after having refused to dispense the pill reportedly expressing her religious belief.
As a citizen Steelman said she voted against Amendment 2, but as governor, Steelman said that she would "sure fight for life and quality of life" and that, she said, included seniors and the disabled. Interestingly, her definition of "quality of life" includes a ban on assisted suicide and euthanasia.
This chart shows that the number of abortions in Missouri has declined since a high of 29.3 per thousand in 1981. According to further information found on the Guttmacher Institute website, half of all pregnancies are unintended and 22% end in abortion.