More than 300 attend annual Pro-Life Lobby Day event in Capitol

Missouri governor, former Planned Parenthood manager, fire up crowd at annual event hosted by Missouri Right to Life



With a push for the legislature to pass the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, pro-lifers were fired up at a recent lobby day at in the Missouri State Capitol.

More than 300 people attended a rally in the Capitol rotunda March 12.

Beforehand, they visited with legislators to ask for their support of pro-life legislation.

The annual lobby day is hosted by Missouri Right to Life.

Gov. Mike Parson, who received a standing ovation from the crowd, referred to the people as “soldiers” who are fighting a battle for the unborn.

“You’re fighting for people you’ll never know, you’ll never meet, and you’ll never see,” he said. “You’re the soldiers that are fighting every day for the unborn.”

As other states such as New York and Virginia venture further from upholding the right to life, said Gov. Parson, Missouri is taking an opposite direction, having passed HB 126, which he called “one of the strongest pro-life bills in the country.”

Sponsored by state Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, HB 126, called the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, includes:

  • a ban on abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat;
  • a ban on abortions at 20 weeks gestation, when an unborn child can begin to feel pain;
  • enacts the “Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act,” which would ban all abortions in Missouri if Roe s. Wade is overturned;
  • a federal Human Life Amendment is adopted or a federal Human Life bill is enacted;
  • bans abortions for reasons including Down syndrome, race or gender; and
  • requires a second custodial parent to be notified when a minor is seeking an abortion, with certain exceptions.

HB 126 would increase medical malpractice insurance requirements for those who perform or induce abortions and would add additional insurance requirements for doctors who induce abortions using chemicals or drugs.

It would also recognize that “God is the author of life” and state that Missouri is a “sanctuary of life” that protects pregnant women and unborn children.

The bill provides an exception in cases where the mother is at risk of death or serious physical harm. There is not an exception for cases of rape or incest.

The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Missouri Right to Life president Steve Rupp said he’s hopeful that the Senate will keep the bill intact, without removing any provisions.

The bill “covers a significant portion of the poisoning, dismembering of children that’s going on right now,” he said. “Eventually we would like to see abortion become unthinkable — that we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Taking the life of a child is a moral issue.”

Other statewide officials who spoke included Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick.

Legislators including Rep. Schroer and state Sen. Bob Onder also spoke of their support for pro-life legislation.

“No matter what”

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City opened the rally with prayer.

“We stand together this day at a critical point in the history of our state and country,” he stated. “The ties that bind us as Missourians and fellow citizens are being attacked and torn apart in ways we have never seen before.”

What would have been unthinkable not even a generation ago — some states sanctioning the killing babies who survive abortion — has become a reality.

“What had been considered murder, infanticide, is now considered acceptable by some,” said Bishop McKnight. “Yet, it is never good, just, charitable or life-giving to choose the death of the innocent.

“The dignity of our humanity and the fundamental right to life must be recognized above all other rights, no matter what,” he stated.

He said the destruction of such innocent and defenseless human beings “cries out to heaven and brings with it the curse of the breakdown of civilization.”

He asked God, Creator of all life, to transform the minds of all elected leaders so that they recognize that the destruction of innocent human life through abortion and infanticide is always wrong.

He asked God for a blessing over all who were gathered there and all who stand as witnesses to the sacredness of every human life.

“May we never tire of our mission to stand up for those who have no voice of their own, whose humanity is denied by the laws of our country,” he prayed. “May we resolve to remain solidly united in the defense of all human life.”

An insider’s perspective

Keynote speaker Sue Thayer shared her story as a former manager at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Iowa.

She objected when the clinic began offering “webcam abortions,” a chemical-induced abortion led by a doctor at a remote location who speaks to a patient via video chat.

That was when she realized that the clinic was not focused on providing women’s health care, but increasing profits.

She said that God began to reveal to her that abortion is wrong.

In 2012, she led a 40 Days for Life campaign outside of the clinic in Storm Lake. By the end of the campaign in March of that year, the clinic announced it was closing.

She is now director of outreach for 40 Days for Life and founder of a pregnancy resource center.

“Science shows us the miracle of life in the womb ... yet we have so many people who deny the humanity of an unborn baby,” she said.

Ms. Thayer called the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act “a bill that most pro-life people across the country only dream about.”

Planned Parenthood, she said, doesn’t like any kind of regulations, such as clinic inspections, hospital privileges laws for doctors, or waiting periods before an abortion.

“They hate 24-hour waiting periods, because they know if a woman has time to think about it, she’s probably not going to go through with it,” she said.

“All life is important”

Vince and Marianne Burkemper of St. Joseph parish in Manchester in the St. Louis archdiocese have attended the annual lobby day for many years, visiting with legislators to ask for their support of pro-life bills.

Mr. Burkemper, who coordinates St. Joseph parish’s participation with 40 Days for Life, said this year has been the parish’s largest response to the campaign — which includes standing outside Planned Parenthood in prayer — in recent years.

Mrs. Burkemper said meeting with legislators in person “always has a positive impact. We’re not always called to be successful, but to persevere where we can.”

Sam and Stephanie Marsh of New Cambria brought their four children to the lobby day.

The family is a member of the Kirksville chapter of Missouri Right to Life. This was their third year attending.

“I like to come to fight for babies who can’t fight for themselves and to save lives,” said 9-year-old Samantha Marsh.

Mrs. Marsh said she got the entire family involved with Missouri Right to Life so they can understand the importance of life issues from a young age.

“We didn’t realize the whole spectrum (of life) that is covered, that it’s all ages,” she said of the work of Missouri Right to Life. “Our daughter McKaylynn has special needs. People don’t stop to think if we’re murdering our babies, then who else?”

“I come because I think it’s our duty represent the unborn,” their son Kelton Marsh said. “To God, all life is important.”


Contact your senators

Missourians are encouraged to contact their state senators in support of HB 126, the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act.

To look up your senator’s contact information, visit

Mrs. Brinker is a staff writer for the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the St. Louis archdiocese. This article is republished with permission.