The Missouri Legislature has been at the forefront of attempts to marginalize legal abortion providers. Today Republican Governor Matt Blount signed legislation that introduces a new slate of laws that attempt to limit access to an abortion.
This is not a post that discusses abortion rights/right to life as an issue, just an observation of the legal maneuvering around the issue and the potential impact of the aggressive nature of legislation. The legislation bars people affiliated with abortion providers from teaching or supplying materials for sex education courses. The rationale behind the ban is that groups such as Planned Parenthood have a conflict of interest in supplying materials for sex education courses, because they could potentially make money off the female students.
Of course, the legislation allows schools to provide abstinence-only courses. You will not find a limitation on who can teach those courses, no concern over the potential relationship between counsel and commerce. That argument only applies to abortion providers. If you look across the state you will see that this introduces an interesting precedent. Can people who work for companies that make their living providing court-mandated driver's ed and DWI courses speak at schools about driving under the influence? What about the camp fairs held on school grounds?
The U.S. Army faced a similar issue this year when it was revealed that insurance companies with predatory pricing and sales techniques were routinely allowed to make financial planning presentations on army bases. This is a serious issue, and the basic premise is one I have some sympathy for. I am not comparing Planned Parenthood to to a predatory lender, but the right-to-life movement, and the Missouri Legislators, clearly cast the organization as a predator.
Of course, both camps in the access to abortion battle can simply launch not-for-profit education services independent of organizations that provide service for fees. And both camps are savvy enough and well-funded enough to pull that off.
The law leaves the State of Missouri to decide how absolute this separation of counsel and commerce is. The selective use of this argument may be challenged in court. The Missouri Legislature is not new to having their laws shot down by the courts. But the lawmakers have decided it is worth Missouri taxpayer's money to push the limits of the legal system in this area.
Granted, 15 percent of Missouri high school students have tried methamphetamines, and Missouri’s average annual decrease in meth use is "approximately three times less than that observed nationally", but issues like drug use -- that take a huge toll on the state -- have to take a back seat to pursuing the national right-to-life agenda.