Forcing Planned Parenthood to build a memorial shrine for aborted babies is one idea Missouri Republicans are putting on the table as they craft new strategies to change state abortion laws.
The memorial for fetuses was discussed following a three-hour meeting of a House committee hearing in mid-October on Planned Parenthood’s disposal of fetal organs and tissue. In addition to the fetus memorial, Republicans also talked about improving state oversight of clinics and physicians that perform abortions.
The Missouri legislature instituted a 72-hour waiting period for women who want abortions in 2014. But Rep. Andrew Koenig (R) said to his mind there is no question there are “holes” in Missouri’s abortion laws.
It was Republican Rep. Rick Brattin who came up with the idea of building a memorial for aborted babies. He told St. Louis Public Radio he sees it as being something like the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., which has the names of U.S. servicemen and women who died in the war etched into its surface.
“I know that sounds crazy, but by state law (fetuses are) given human status,” Brattin said, “so should there be a human memorial attached to that human life?”
It is true Missouri is one of the states that has a “fetal homicide” law, which in effect recognizes a human fetus as a human being.
Missouri’s law states the killing of an “unborn child” at any stage of pre-natal development should be considered involuntary manslaughter or first-degree murder.
Brattin said that alone should be reason enough to force Planned Parenthood to erect and maintain a memorial for aborted babies.
There is no question in the collective mind of Democrats and those who run Missouri Planned Parenthood that the House committee meeting held to discuss charges that their organization was selling fetal tissue was part of a “political attack.”
It is true that it was Republicans who talked about ways to increase regulation on abortion clinics in Missouri. There wasn’t a Democrat to be found.
They were so enraged by Brattin’s suggestion and other ideas offered by Republicans that Democrats stormed out of the meeting.
Rep. Stacey Newman, one of the Democrats who left early, said Brattin and his fellow Republicans on the committee were only trying to come up with anti-abortion legislation that could be introduced in the next legislative session, during an election year.
This is not the first time Rep. Brattin has drawn the wrath of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice legislators. He proposed legislation in 2014 that would have forced a woman to get the permission of the baby’s father before having an abortion.
“With the women’s movement for equal rights, well, it’s swung so far we have now taken away the man’s right and the say in their child’s life,” he told KHSB-TV after proposing the legislation.
Laura McQuade, the CEO of Planned Parenthood in Kansas and mid-Missouri, said Brattin’s proposal was more a human rights violation than it was an abortion restriction.
Brattin, realizing it was again something he said that sparked the Democrats’ anger, told the Kansas City Star his idea was not part of a Republican or pro-life “witch hunt.”
“We are fighting for human life. These pieces of fetal tissue are being sold on the black market,” he said. “We have 56 million babies that have been lost in the abortion service and industry.”
However, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in late September his office had investigated reports that a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis — the only clinic that performs abortions in the state of Missouri — had been selling fetal tissue and body parts, and found no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Koster said his investigators had examined more than 3,500 pages of documents and interviewed people involved in 317 abortions performed at the clinic in June 2015.
“The information and documentation we reviewed did not reveal any irregularities involving the transmission, examination or disposal of the fetal organs and tissue from surgical abortions” performed at the St. Louis clinic.
But Missouri Right to Life officials are not backing down. They said Koster’s report was nowhere close to being adequate.
“Koster has produced a report showing only one month of records without direct evidence of the sale of baby body parts, but does nothing to address why the St. Louis PP operation is noted as an untapped market for fetal trafficking in the first video,” according to a Missouri Right to Life press release.
“And now abortion supporter Koster proudly declares the investigation, and PP, cleared? Not so fast.”
Missouri Right to Life also charged Koster’s report ignores other illegal activity.
“It is illegal for any state-funded entity, personnel, or official to assist, promote, refer, or perform an abortion in Missouri. Period. Koster ignores evidence that the University actively recruited an abortionist and worked directly with the PP facility in Columbia to provide the required licensing for that abortionist.”
So, Missourians will continue their abortion debate in 2016. The House committee, to which Brattin offered his fetal-memorial proposal, is expected to submit a report to the full House during the next legislative session, which as Democrats pointed out is during the 2016 election year.