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The health exemption on the partial-birth abortion bill was defeated by the Senate.

May 03, 1999
By: Natalia Ona
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 427 & Senate roll-call vote on the health exemption amendment.

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mel Carnahan's demand for a health exemption in the proposed ban on partial birth abortions was rejected by Missouri's Senate Monday. It was defeated by a margin suggesting that bill supporters may have the votes to override the governor's veto.

By a vote of 11-23, the Senate defeated an amendment that would exempt from the partial-birth abortion ban cases in which the mother's health is at stake. An override of a veto requires exactly 23 votes.

The health-exemption amendment had been offered by Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, who is among a handful of senators whose continued talking has blocked a Senate vote.

The Senate now has spent more than 27 hours of debate during parts of five different days -- which includes a late night Thursday session that extended into early morning Friday.

Neither side showed any sign of backing down when the Senate adjourned early Monday night.

Senate tradition allows a member to talk and offer amendments to a bill for has long as the senator wants or until physical exhaustion forces the debate to stop.

While Senate rules do provide a means to vote to shut off debate, it is an action that is rarely taken in the Senate.

While Jacob has held center stage in the opposition, he has been joined by other members at times.

"I am not an advocate or not I am a person that promotes abortion but I do promote that women should have the right to make such decision in such intimate situation in her body, said Sen. Mary Bland, D-Kansas City and one of the eleven members who voted for Jacob's amendment.

Shortly after rejection of the health-exemption amendment, Jacob presented another one just 10 minutes before the Senate finished his session Monday - a sign he's not ready to see the debate end.

During the session on Monday, two different amendments were approved by senators. One makes someone guilty of infanticide whose act is a "substantial step towards the commission of the offense". Jacob opposed the amendment - and said a parent could be guilty if they help their daughter get a partial-birth abortion.

The Senate debate is schedule to resume today. Now that it appears a veto by Carnahan is likely to be overridden, it's uncertain how long opponents will filibuster the bill.