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Abortion Compromise Offered

September 14, 1995
    State Capital Bureau

    JEFFERSON CITY - The leading forces in the Missouri's anti-abortion movement sent a message of compromise to Missouri's abortion-rights governor on the opening day of the legislature's veto session.

    "If this body will face the issue and deal with it in a give and take then we can resolve it," the anti-abortion bill's sponsor said to the Senate in announcing he would not make a motion to override the governor's veto of his abortion-restriction bill.

    "I think many of the objections of the governor can easily be resolved," said Sen. John Schneider, D-St. Louis County.

    Schneider said he plans to introduce a new version of the legislation during the 1996 legislative session.

    "I'm sick and tired of focusing on the politics of the two extremes and who wins and who loses rather than on the needs of the women," he said. "The legislative process is very creative, and I'm sure we'll come up with something."

    In a news release shortly before the opening of the legislature's veto session, Missouri's Catholic Conference conceded they had been unable to line up the two-thirds vote that would be needed to override the governor's veto.

    According to the release, the bill had an even chance in the Senate but would have been four to six votes short of the required two-thirds majority in the House.

    Louis DeFeo, lobbyist for the conference, expressed confidence that the Senate will give the anti-abortion legislation a fair chance next year, since President Pro Tem Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, said he would put the bill in Schneider's Judiciary Committee.

    "And of course there'll be new leadership in the House, so we expect a more fair and open process in the House," DeFeo said.

    House Speaker Bob Griffin, D-Cameron, has announced that he will resign in January. Griffin had sought to block debate on abortion for several years.

    DeFeo, who worked with Schneider on the 1995 version of the bill, said that modifications would be made to the legislation before reintroducing it.

    The main objection voiced by Carnahan was the bill's requirement that a woman contact a private counselor before she could receive an abortion.

    "It's government interference at its worst," said Chris Sifford, the governor's spokesman. "When a woman has to make a decision about her personal health care, she shouldn't have to get a permission slip."

    However, Sifford said the governor might be able to make some compromises once the bill has been rewritten.

    And DeFeo has said the bill's supporters might be open to discussion on that issue.

    "We're certainly hoping to dialogue with anyone to come to a consensus on this," DeFeo said.

    Sen. Joe Moseley, D-Columbia and leader of opposition to the bill during the last session, said he might or might not oppose a new bill in the works for the 1996 legislative session.

    "We'll just have to wait and see what John comes up with," Moseley said.

    What will he come up with? Schneider says he hasn't made up his mind yet.