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Thousands gather at the State Capitol

September 15, 1999
By: Mamie Smith and Sakina Dewji
State Capital Bureau
Links: H.B. 427

JEFFERSON CITY - Ron Campbell left his home in Versailles for the Capitol early Wednesday in celebration of his two adopted daughters who could have easily been aborted.

"No commitment is significant compared to making a stand for life," said Campbell, expressing the fear that if the mother of his two girls had chosen abortion over adoption he would have missed out on many blessings.

More than 5,000 people rallied in opposition of Gov. Mel Carnahan's veto on the partial-birth abortion bill. The gathered Missourians turned the Capitol steps into a church-like atmosphere where they prayed to guide legislators in their vote.

"Our main reason for being here is to show support for our legislators and to get this bill passed to stop the killing of innocent babies," said Susan Klein, spokesperson for Missouri Right to Life.

On the river side of the capitol a relatively small number of veto supporters assembled to ask the legislature to sustain the Governor's veto.

More than 50 state highway patrolmen were brought in to monitor the controversial crowds.

"I suspect it is posturing by the Governor to try to make it look like there is going to be a problem with the pro-life people," said Rep. Carl Hendrickson, R-St. Louis.

However Sen. Ted House, D-St. Charles, said, the extra security was probably not an overkill.

"We just want everybody to be safe," he said.

Safety was a serious issue for Jefferson City public schools. A bomb threat was called in to the school district at 11:45 a.m.

The Associated Press reported the caller was upset about Carnahan's veto of the ban. The children were evacuated and no bomb has been found.

Amongst the Capitol crowd there were many school children. Casey Gilmore, an 11 year old student at Immaculate Conception School said, "If we can save a whale then we can save a baby."

At the rally as a symbol of support many bill proponents chose to wear red.

"To me, it symbolizes the innocent blood of babies being shed," said Natalie Kasten, rally participant from St. Louis.

"I'm seven months pregnant, and I don't understand how anyone could say it's not alive," said Anika Careaga of Jefferson City. "This one started kicking at five months."

Throughout the morning pro-override legislators addressed the crowd.

"I find it encouraging that the legislators are willing to stand on what they believe regardless of the political pressure from the governor and other people," said Tessi Muskrat, 19, of Eldridge. "I feel it is time we as Americans stand for what we believe regardless of those around us."

More than 400 people stayed to hear the vote. When the votes were being cast many people fell silent and folded their hands in prayer and meditation. People tensely listened as the votes were read. Cheers broke out after the crowd realized the yes'es had the necessary two-thirds majority to override.

"I almost didn't come because we were running late, and I didn't know if we would make it," said Kathleen Balassi from St. Louis. "But, I just kept thinking about the babies that were being brutally murdered and I couldn't sit at home and do nothing about it not when I might be able to make a difference."