Thursday, May 14, 2009

MO Abortion, Death Penalty Bills Pass - Watered Down

Coerced Abortion Bill

The Missouri Senate passed HB 46 last night by 25-7. Originally intended to make it a crime in Missouri to coerce any woman to get an abortion, the final bill simply strengthens the requirements of informed consent in Missouri. A version which passed the House did include the anti-coercion element and the votes were probably there to pass it in the Senate had it not been filibustered by Kansas City Senator Jolie Justus and others from St. Louis. The Kansas City Star reports,
The approved legislation would mandate that abortion providers tell patients numerous things currently not required by law, including:

* a description of the abortion procedure that will be performed;

* the health risks associated with abortion procedures and related anesthesia and medication;

* the age and anatomical characteristics of the fetus;

* alternatives to abortion; and

* that a fetus older than 22 weeks may be able to feel pain.

Doctors also would be required to offer patients the opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear the unborn child’s heartbeat.

On breaking the filibuster, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports,
[Senator] Justus said the Democrats relented on filibustering the bill in part because Republicans had threatened to cut off debate to pass the more controversial elements of the bill. The bill includes a provision that allows the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia — one of two abortion clinics in the state — to have until 2012 to fulfill the requirements of the law.


Death Penalty Moratorium

From The Pitch,
H.B. 484, a bill written to create a commission to study the state's death penalty, passed by a surprisingly large margin in a 127-31 vote, after the 2-year moratorium component was removed. Now it goes to the Senate for a vote -- if they can get to it by Friday when the session ends.

Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Missouri Catholic Conference had supported both the moratorium and the study. The moratorium element was defeated 95-64.

One surprise emerged during debate when House Majority Leader Steve Tilley (R-Perryville) urged Governor Jay Nixon to grant clemency to Dennis Skillicorn who is scheduled for execution May 20. From MidMissouri.com,
Lawmakers were surprised when Majority Floor Leader Stephen Tilley endorsed the moratorium. He cited revelations that another suspect in the Drummond murder, Allen Nicklasson, actually did the killing. Nicklasson told authorities that Skillicorn had waited in the car, without knowledge of the murder plan.

"Certainly, that would be enough reasonable doubt for me that I would be very concerned if this state executed that individual," Rep. Steve Tilley (R-Perryville.)

The Catholic Key Blog has asked readers to support Bishop Finn's call for clemency for Skillicorn and reader Craig sends in a response he received from Governor Nixon,
The death penalty in Missouri is sought sparingly by prosecutors, handed down sparingly by juries, and carried out sparingly by the state. After 16 years as Missouri's Attorney General, I fully appreciate the gravity and finality of capital punishment. I will carefully review the record on this case and any petition for clemency submitted by Dennis Skillicorn.

At a time when the focus is on the person found guilty of murder, I also ask that Missourians remember Richard Drummond, the victim of this crime, and keep his family in their prayers.

Visit our previous post for instructions on how to add your voice for clemency soon.