LET'S MAKE a deal.
That's not Monty Hall talking. It's coming from some in
Missouri's anti-abortion camp, who hint such an approach might be
the key to getting its mandatory abortion-counseling bill past a
key opponent, Gov. Mel Carnahan.
The bill - top on the anti-abortion agenda this session - has
passed the state House and Senate. But its future is in jeopardy
because the House tally was 11 shy of a veto-proof majority.
Meanwhile, anti-abortion and abortion rights forces are waging
another battle - this one on the question of state money for family
planning. Since Carnahan got into office in 1993, Planned
Parenthood has gotten a share.
Anti-abortion legislators, whose numbers swelled in last
November's election, have knocked Planned Parenthood out of the
money. On Tuesday, a House-Senate negotiating panel - heavy with
abortion-rights allies - restored budget wording that puts Planned
Parenthood back in. But that move is wasted if either the House or
Senate - both heavy with anti-abortion legislators - fails to go
Under the "Let's Make A Deal" scenario that some bandy about
Jefferson City, the anti-abortion side would back off on its
objections to the Planned Parenthood money if the abortion-rights
camp and Carnahan would agree to some sort of abortion-counseling
Patty Skain, administrative director for Missouri Right to
Life, linked the two issues as she discussed her group's commitment
to the abortion-counseling measure. She first emphasized that she's
unaware of any negotiations tying the two. She then added: "I can
tell you that there would be much less concern (about Planned
Parenthood getting family-planning money) if we had some guarantees
that we had information going to these women on other options
Roy Temple, Carnahan's deputy chief of staff, said even the
hint of such a deal signals to him that the fight is over political
power, not philosophy. Temple added that it was unlikely the
mandatory abortion-counseling bill could be made palatable to the
To bolster the Legislature's abortion-rights minority,
Missourians for Choice last week released a poll that it said
showed that a majority of Missourians favored keeping abortion
legal. Of the 504 registered voters polled, 60 percent favored
keeping abortion legal. Thirty-four percent were opposed.
The Washington firm of Garin-Hart Strategic Research conducted
the poll, which it said had a margin of error of 4. …