Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Abortion Debate May Include Compromise

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Abortion Debate May Include Compromise

Article excerpt

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 along.

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 bill.

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 besides abortion."

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 governor.

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. …

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