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Abortion Debate Continues thru Summer

By: ELISA CROUCH
State Capital Bureau

May 12, 1995

JEFFERSON CITY _ The close of the legislative session normally means a summer of educating people on state issues for the Missouri Catholic Conference. But this summer, the conference will continue its battle to get an anti-abortion bill made into law.

Louis DeFeo, one the conference's two lobbyists, expressed confidence that the anti-abortion bill requiring counseling for women seeking abortions will become law, despite a veto from Gov. Mel Carnahan.

The anti-abortion bill was the primary focus of the Missouri Catholic Conference lobbyists, who spent much of their time at the Capitol lobbying legislators to vote in favor of the legislation.

The governor has proclaimed the bill dead since the legislature did not override his veto before the session adjourned.

But bill supporters argue the constitution allows the legislature to consider an override this fall when the legislature returns to consider other bills the governor may veto or at the next regular session that begins in January.

The bill would require that before an abortion could be performed, a woman would have to contact a private case manager, to counsel women seeking abortions.

The woman would not have to accept counseling, but she would have to present the physician with verification that the counselor had been contacted.

Performing an abortion without the verification form would result in the state revoking the physician's and the facility's licenses to conduct abortions.

Rep. Ron Auer, D-St. Louis, who sponsored the bill in the House, gave the Catholic Conference a lot of the credit for the bill passing through the House chamber.

"They were very successful in regard to the lobbying effort," Auer said.

Crystal Williams, executive director of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Missouri, lobbied against the anti-abortion legislation. She said the Catholic Conference has a lot of pull _ especially when it comes to abortion issues.

"The bulk of the Catholic Conference focuses only on abortion," Williams said. "On that single issue, they're influential."

But their influence stopped at Gov. Mel Carnahan's desk, where the bill was vetoed.