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Jacob stalls debate on partial-birth abortion bill

April 28, 1999
By: Carrie Beth Lasley and Jennifer Lutz
State Capital Bureau
Links: hb 427

JEFFERSON CITY - Columbia's Sen. Ken Jacob kept the Senate floor for two and a half hours in a one-man effort to stop a ban on partial birth abortion.

The bill, approved earlier by the House, would make it a class A felony for any doctor who performed an abortion on a fetus that was partially delivered.

The Senate began, but did not conclude, debate on an issue that has been a dominate legislative and political controversy for many years in Missouri.

"I've been working on these bills for 17 years," Jacob, D-Columbia, said. "Not a single bill has ever prevented an abortion. In fact, we have created a situation in which there are more unplanned pregnancies."

Jacob questioned the constitutionality of the bill while debating with bill handler, Sen. Ted House, D-St. Charles.

"If 100 courts had ruled infanticide unconstitutional that still doesn't bind the courts in Missouri," House said. "A state has the right to define when a child is born."

The two-and-a-half hour debate was at times poorly attended by the Senators. On three occassions the presiding Senator Pro-Tem had to pause debate to call in the 18 Senators needed to make quorum.

"I find it interesting that in an abortion debate there's only five women, the sponsor of the bill and the inquirer present," said Betty Sims, R-St. Louis County.

Jacob debated with several senators, upholding his view that the bill should not reach the Governor's desk.

"No one has a right to tell a woman how to deal with a pregnancy," Jacob said to one female senator. "It's yours, my sister's, my mother's, my wife's, every woman's."

Debate is expected to continue today.

Supporters have more than enough votes to pass the bill. The only question is whether there are the two-thirds majority necessary to override the governor's veto. Two years ago, the governor's veto was sustained by a single vote in the Senate.