Missouri has joined the list of states that have acted in 2019 to protect unborn children early in their development, and Louisiana is poised to do the same.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Southern Baptist, signed into law May 24 a bill that prohibits abortion after eight weeks of gestation. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards — rejecting the abortion-rights allegiance of his Democratic Party — announced May 29 he would sign legislation to ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six to eight weeks.
Five states already have enacted laws this year to bar abortion early in pregnancy. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed May 15 a ban on abortion throughout pregnancy with an exception solely “to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted heartbeat laws similar to Missouri’s measure.
Southern Baptist leaders offered thanksgiving for the Missouri law.
“We continue to be grateful for the momentum moving through state legislatures to protect the unborn,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments for Baptist Press. “Legislation like the recent bill signed into law in Missouri is written to uphold the dignity of the most vulnerable among us.
“Scripture calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves,” Moore said. “This means we must advocate for policies that protect and promote the dignity and worth of both women and their unborn little girls and boys. Those of us in the pro-life community will continue to press on toward the day when abortion is unimaginable — because the humanity of the child is undeniable.”
John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), said May 17 after final legislative action that his state’s measure “was important — not for legislators, not for the governor, not for Missouri economics — but for yet-to-be-born children.”
Yeats told The Pathway, the MBC’s newsjournal, his family and he are grateful “for the fortitude of our pro-life Senators and our pro-life Governor to place Missouri among those states that are known for making a safe haven for little girls and boys living in their mother’s womb.”
Upon signing the bill, Parson, a member of First Baptist Church in Bolivar, said in a written statement, “[W]e are sending a strong signal to the nation that, in Missouri, we stand for life, protect women’s health, and advocate for the unborn. All life has value and is worth protecting.”
The number of abortions in Missouri has declined from more than 20,000 about four decades ago to 3,903 in 2017, the most recent year for which state statistics are available online.
Missouri’s new law, which includes an exception for medical emergencies, also consists of several other provisions, such as a ban on abortions on the basis of ethnicity, sex or Down syndrome diagnosis. The Senate approved the legislation in a 24-10 vote, while the House of Representatives passed it by 110-44.
Missouri is on the cusp of possibly being the only state in the country without an abortion clinic. The license of the lone remaining clinic — a Planned Parenthood center in St. Louis — will expire May 31 if it fails to comply with a state investigation or a court fails to intervene.
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Source: Baptist Press