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Another Anti-Abortion House Vote

By: David Royse
State Capital Bureau

May 03, 1995

See rollcall vote on anti-abortion amendment.

JEFFERSON CITY _ Debate on a bill to fund health programs for children was abruptly halted in the Missouri House Wednesday (May 3) after a dramatic speech against injecting abortion into the debate.

The House was considering a bill that, among other provisions, would let the state provide additional funding for school health programs if it is needed in the future.

But the debate made a sudden shift when Rep. Todd Akin, R-St. Louis County, introduced an amendment to prevent state employees and agencies from making referrals to abortion clinics.

The amendment was adopted 89 to 65.

In an emotional speech, the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Scott Lakin, D-Kansas City, told abortion-rights opponents he didn't want his bill killed by the amendment, bringing the Democratic side of the House to applause. Lakin then pulled his bill from the debate and left the floor.

"There comes a time when we have to rise above the special interests, we have to rise above single-issue legislating, and do the right thing for the children of Missouri," Lakin said, his voice breaking.

Under the amendment, state employees such as school nurses could not refer patients to any agency or clinic that provides abortions, or to an another agency that in turn would refer the patient to an abortion provider.

"Our concern is that public money is public money, put in the treasury by people who are pro-choice and pro-life," Akin told reporters after the debate.

Lakin went into conference with Akin to try to work out a compromise. After the meeting, Akin said the two had agreed in concept to block some referrals to abortion clinics. Lakin, however, said they had not agreed to anything.

"We have not worked out anything, yet, but we are still talking," Lakin said.

Lakin said he was not optimistic about the fate of his bill, but the issue was important enough to keep trying.

In other legislative action Wednesday:

* A House-Senate conference committee on the state's budget agreed to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving state family planning funds. Tuesday, the House had rejected the conference committee's first version that would have made Planned Parenthood eligible for the funding. (See rollcall vote.) Abortion opponents said funding Planned Parenthood would indirectly subsidize abortions.

* Senate action on the administration's tax limit proposal was postponed after a Republican amendment was proposed to impose a more restrictive limit on taxes. The proposed constitutional amendment would require the state get voter approval for large tax increases.