Governor announces 'pro-life special session' starting Monday

Thomas Jefferson's statue graces the south side of the Missouri Capitol.
Thomas Jefferson's statue graces the south side of the Missouri Capitol.

Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday announced his plan to call the Legislature back for a special session "to protect the lives of the innocent unborn and protect women's health," according to a news release from Greitens' office.

The session will focus on protecting pregnancy resource centers and proposals for common-sense health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The special legislative session will begin next Monday, June 12.

"I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri," Greitens said in a video posted to Facebook.

He continued: "Our faith community and volunteers do incredible work to support people in need. And there's few finer examples than the work pregnancy care centers do across our state. These charitable organizations and community groups work with pregnant women and new moms. They offer newborn children food and clothing, offer free pre-natal care and ultrasounds, and help find women find housing and even pay for utilities. They help with adoption when needed and protect women from domestic abuse. They even do job training and help women find jobs to support their new families."

Greitens referenced St. Louis' "sanctuary city" law against workplace discrimination based on abortions and pregnancies.

"There's a new city law making St. Louis an abortion sanctuary city - where pregnancy care centers can't work the way they're supposed to. Politicians are trying to make it illegal, for example, for pro-life organizations to say that they just want to hire pro-life Missourians," the governor said. "The Senate had a bill to address this during the session - but they failed to act. We're calling a special session to support the people doing this vital work to help women and children.

Greitens also noted a push for "common-sense health and safety standards" such as annual safety inspections at abortion clinics and that clinics have a plan for complications. 

The announcement of this special session has been praised by pro-life and faith leaders from around the state.
"The Greitens administration recently moved to enforce a longstanding law requiring abortion businesses to report abortion emergencies resulting in women being removed from the facility by ambulance," Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in the governor's news release. Local pro-life activists in St. Louis have observed women being taken away by ambulance at least 66 times since 2009. Clearly, Gov. Greitens understands the urgency here and that the lives of women and children are on the line. We urge the state Legislature to address these matters quickly."

Representatives of organizations including Missouri Right to Life, the Missouri Baptist Convention and Campaign Life Missouri also spoke in favor of the governor's action in the news release.

"Eric Greitens promised to do things differently, but holding an expensive emergency legislative session to threaten women's access to health care is not only an unnecessary government intrusion into private sexual and reproductive health decisions, it's exactly the type of establishment politics that's driving unprecedented levels of grassroots enthusiasm," Missouri Democratic Party Chair Stephen Webber said Wednesday in an emailed statement.

NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Alison Dreith also released a statement Wednesday opposing the special session: "The intent behind the governor's actions is to shame women for their personal medical decisions and make basic reproductive health care harder to access. With so many real challenges facing Missouri families, Gov. Greitens and his GOP allies prefer to waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on their ideological crusade to outlaw abortion."

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