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President Trump loses another round in court on immigrant “dreamers.” Also on today’s rundown: Environmentalists tell New York Gov. Cuomo to match words with action; California lawmakers wear jeans, taking a stand against sexual violence; and Airbnb is called out for “secret tax deals.”

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Missouri Senate May Send Personhood Bill to Voters

The Missouri Legislature could approve a strong anti-abortion resolution this week, and that would mean voters ultimately decide whether to approve or deny it in November. (B. Smith)
The Missouri Legislature could approve a strong anti-abortion resolution this week, and that would mean voters ultimately decide whether to approve or deny it in November. (B. Smith)
May 9, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missouri voters may be asked to change the state constitution to say life begins at conception.

The House voted in favor of House Resolution 98 last week and now, it's the Senate's turn to debate it.

The bill recognizes an unborn child as a person with a "right to life which cannot be deprived by state or private action without due process and equal protection of law."

It also says fertilized eggs "have a natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

But Sarah Rossi, director of advocacy and policy for ACLU Missouri, warns the bill takes away a woman's rights.

"It attempts to ban all types of abortion services in the state of Missouri through the Missouri State Constitution," says Rossi. "It would also ban quite a few forms of birth control, and also put in-vitro fertilization and other fertility procedures at risk."

Ash Grove Representative Mike Moon sponsored the bill that would ask voters to decide if embryos at every stage of biological development should be given the right to life.

The Republican-dominated House approved it on Thursday and sent it to the Senate, where there are only eight Democrats among the 34 senators.

M'Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing with Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, thinks if the bill passes, it will be found unconstitutional, which means an expensive court battle for the state.

She contends lawmakers have plenty of other priorities to focus on.

"The Senate absolutely should not spend the very last week of Missouri's legislative session with so many pressing things that need to be tended to - expanding Medicaid, helping with education, looking at our state's infrastructure."

Similar measures have been challenged in other states, and Rossi is convinced that would also be the fate of HR 98.

"For us, it's a constitutional issue, but at a deeper level, it's a health and welfare issue," says Rossi. "It's a emotional and mental health issue, and while I don't disregard the moral and religious views of the proponents of these bills, our state's constitution and our state statutes are not the place for the religious and moral judgments of other people."

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood say the legislation collides head-on with Roe v. Wade, the 43-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO