EDITORIAL | Save two Missouri pro-life bills

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When state legislators convene in a veto session Sept. 10, they will consider three critical pieces of legistaltion vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

First is legislation that would increase the waiting period for having an abortion to 72 hours from 24 hours. Another is a bill that increases tax credits available for pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes and food pantries. A third seeks to restore funding for grants to provide services to ex-offenders to help them in their transition from prison.

Under current Missouri law, women must wait 24 hours after they have been informed of the risks of having an abortion. HB 1307 will expand that time period to 72 hours. According to the Missouri Catholic Conference, this extension would allow women more time to reflect upon the serious nature of abortion and could allow them an opportunity to find the support they need to keep their babies.

The Respect Life Apostolate of the archdiocese notes that "abortion is a life-changing procedure -- for both the baby and the mother. Women need time to review all the medical information and alternatives available. This bill provides that."

Studies have shown women who have access life-affirming services over an extended wait requirement are less likely to have abortions. There are many pregnancy resource centers to help women through crisis pregnancies and after they give birth, and the extended waiting period affords more time to thoroughly discern such a critical situation. 72 hours is reasonable, and the legislature should demonstrate full respect for life by overriding the veto.

Antother override possibility is HB 1132, which would increase by $500,000 the amount of state tax credits made available to each of three programs: pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes and food pantries. These organizations "help women to choose life for their unborn children by providing the necessary tangible support which she might not be able to receive otherwise," the Respect Life Apostolate explains. The increase would mean a total of $6.75 million, or .075 percent of the state budget, for all the program.

In June, Nixon vetoed from the state budget $2 million that was allocated for grants to help ex-offenders transition from prison to society. The cuts were part of $276 million in line-item vetoes and $846 million in spending restrictions the governor said were necessary to balance the state budget.

Two Catholic agencies -- the Criminal Justice Ministry of the archdiocese and the TurnAround Program of Catholic Charities in Kansas City -- are among 25 organizations statewide that have received funds from the re-entry grant program. With the grant money, these Catholic agencies provide basic supplies, identifications and birth certificates, employment counseling, case management services, plus housing and transportation assistance to ex-offenders returning to the community.

A 2012 study by the University of Missouri's Institute of Public Policy showed that the re-entry programs had a significant impact on reducing recidivism rates, even with high-risk offenders. Both the Criminal Justice Ministry and the TurnAround Program have a high success rate with keeping over 90 percent of their clients from returning to prison.

A majority of 2/3 votes are needed to overturn a veto, and our calls and e-mails to our representatives are important. Our faith compels us to protect the innocent and promote the welfare of our sisters and brotehrs in Christ, even those who have sinned.

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