Sponsored by Rep. Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, HB 213 would impose additional requirements on abortions for viable unborn children who are 20 weeks or more in gestation. An exception remains for medical emergencies where the life and health of the mother is endangered.
The Missouri House approved HB 213 by a vote of 119-38 on March 17. The companion bill, SB 65, already has gained initial approval in the Senate.
Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, said the event was bringing together three basic elements of their mission: education, activation and legislation.
"Our members from across the state come here to be involved and to make a difference," Fichter said. "Influencing legislation serves not only the purpose of protecting life, which is our ultimate goal, but legislation also educates people."
St. Louisan Connie Eller, who works at Our Lady's Inn and is coordinator of Missouri Blacks for Life, said: "You appreciate the freedom in this country to do this, and you realize this is what it was originally all about. I, as a citizen, no matter who I am, no matter where I live, I have the right to come and voice my opinion, so that the people who work here will do the right thing."
Our Lady's Inn is an emergency shelter for pregnant women with locations in St. Louis and St. Charles.
Walking around the Capitol rotunda, visitors had a chance learn more about different anti-abortion organizations in Missouri. Several exhibits were set up to provide information.
Bridget Van Means, representing Thrive St. Louis, an organization of pregnancy resource centers that provides alternatives to abortion, said her Thrive center recently started a new mobile center.
"We feel our calling from God is to end abortion through positive alternatives," she said. "The mobile center is going to take us to some of those tougher neighborhoods in the highest abortion zip codes."
Also presenting their free assistance and counseling service for women and girls in crisis pregnancies were Lighthouse Adoption Agency from Kansas City and the Pregnancy Resource Clinic from St. Joseph.
Janet Selby of Columbia promoted 40 Days for Life, a campaign of prayer and fasting to end abortion.
"I have prayed in front of the Planned Parenthood for 30 years," Selby said. "Today, we are here to sign people up to come and pray with us. It's imperative that we get the message for life out there."
At noon, former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson addressed the assembly.
"Keep the fire burning," Johnson said. "Nothing is more important than saving the lives of children. It is the right thing to do. It's God's thing to do and we are about God's business today and everyday."
Editor's note: Martin Kramara is a priest from Slovakia studing journalism at MDN under an exchange program with the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He obviously has a special interest in this issue -- something that made him concerned that he had a conflict of interest that precluded his coverage. However, he was encouraged to write the story with the understanding that an editor's note would be attached -- Phill Brooks, director, MDN.
Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.