JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (April 14, 2017) – A proposed Missouri state constitutional amendment that would affirm the personhood off the unborn, and set the stage to nullify Roe. v. Wade in the state, recently passed its second House committee, but has yet to be scheduled for a floor vote.
Rep. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) introduced House Joint Resolution 18 (HJR18) in January. If the resolution passes by a majority in both houses of the Missouri general assembly, Missouri voters will consider the proposed state constitutional amendment in the following general election.
The amendment declares that the term “person” under the Missouri Constitution includes every human being, including every unborn human child at every stage of biological development, from the moment of conception until birth. The amendment also declares that nothing in the Constitution of Missouri secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.
In February, the House Committee on Children and Families passed HJR18 by a 7-3 vote. Late last month, the House Rules Committee approved the measure 7-4.
The amendment would not make abortion illegal in the state, but it would set the stage for the legislature to ban, restrict or regulate abortions, and prohibit abortion funding based on the new language in the state constitution. Passage of laws based on the amendment would undoubtedly set up a confrontation between the state of Missouri and the federal government. The Supreme Court has held that states cannot regulate abortions before a fetus is “viable” – generally around 22 weeks.
The opinion of Supreme Court judges notwithstanding, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to regulate abortions. This clearly falls within the objects James Madison said would remain with the state governments – “objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people.”
But in Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS created a constitutional “right to privacy” out of thin air and enforced it on state governments through the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment. Justice Byron White captured the absurdity of the ruling in a blistering dissent.
“I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.”
From a constitutional perspective based on the original meaning of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment, the proposed Missouri constitutional amendment rests on solid ground. How it would play out in practice, should it be approved and the legislature makes laws based on it, remains to be seen.
HJR18 now moves to the full House. It is up to Speaker of the House Todd Richardson to schedule the bill for debate and a floor vote. Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center indicate that without grassroots pressure, it’s unlikely to be scheduled for in a timely manner and won’t have time to get to the governor’s desk. But, encouragement – calls from the grassroots to the speaker to schedule the bill – would be helpful. You can find the Rep. Richardson’s contact information HERE.
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