Weekly Update from the Missouri Catholic Conference                                       April 16, 2021  
Inside this issue
  Adoption and Foster Care Bills Sent to the Governor  

On Monday, the House truly agreed and finally passed two bills that would provide tax relief for families who adopt or provide foster care services. HB 429, sponsored by Representative Hannah Kelly (R-Mountain Grove), would allow Missourians who serve as foster parents for at least six months to receive a tax credit to cover the cost of the process, capped at $2,500 per taxpayer or $5,000 for married couples. HB 430, also sponsored by Representative Kelly, would expand the current special needs adoption tax credit to apply to all adoptions in the state. The bills were carried in the Senate by Senators Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester) and Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston). During Senate debate, HB 430 was amended to include the benevolent tax credit legislation that would expand the tax credits for donations to domestic violence shelters and maternity homes. 

These bills were a priority of House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold), who was adopted out of the foster care system as a child. The MCC testified in support of HB 429, HB 430, and the expansion of benevolent tax credits. These bills now go to Governor Parson for his signature. 



  Bishops Launch No Taxpayer Abortion Campaign  

This week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a campaign urging Congress to keep the Hyde Amendment and similar pro-life provisions. The Hyde Amendment and similar laws have prevented tax dollars from funding elective abortions since 1976 and have had broad public and bipartisan support. Recognizing that some lawmakers, as well as the current president, are making a push to eliminate Hyde, the USCCB is asking parishes and dioceses around the country to take part in the No Taxpayer Abortion campaign. The campaign website contains information on the Hyde Amendment as well as a petition you can sign urging Congress to ensure Hyde and similar pro-life provisions remain in place. 

The campaign follows a push from pro-life legislators and advocates on both sides of the aisle to protect Hyde. In January, 200 Congressional Republicans signed a letter in support of the Hyde Amendment and last week Democrats for Life America organized its "National Day of Action" to support Hyde and oppose taxpayer-funded abortion.  



  Missouri Bishops Issue Statement as Legislature Considers Medicaid Expansion Funding  

This week, the Missouri Catholic bishops issued a statement to the Missouri General Assembly as they consider whether to include funding for Medicaid expansion in the FY '22 budget. The bishops expressed their continued support for the expansion effort, as well as for efforts to fund the program that would expand healthcare coverage to the working poor, stating that "[i]f the General Assembly chooses not to fund Medicaid expansion, we believe they have a moral obligation to provide an alternative means of providing access to healthcare for the working poor. Indeed, we are our brother's keeper as we follow the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 25:42-45." 

The Missouri House declined to include funding for Medicaid expansion in their version of the budget, and this week passed an appropriation bill that funds other initiatives for the needy with the state share of the money that otherwise would have gone to Medicaid expansion. The Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee is poised to begin deliberations on the budget next week with the outcome of Medicaid expansion uncertain. The MCC is encouraging our network to contact their Senator to ask that they include funding for Medicaid expansion in the budget.  See the Action Alert here.



  Senate Poised to Debate SNAP Benefits  

The Senate is poised to debate a bill requiring work requirements for participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SB 138, sponsored by Senator Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), sets a series of sanctions for adults who fail to comply with work requirements to receive SNAP benefits. First-time offenders would be denied benefits for three months, second-time offenders for six months, and third-time offenders would be permanently banned from the program. It is estimated that over 42,000 recipients could lose benefits. The average monthly SNAP benefit is $183.27.

Even though the bill only sanctions adults for not complying, the reality is that children still suffer because the reduced amount of SNAP benefits would now be divided among the total number of people in the household, meaning less food for all.

The MCC joins numerous other organizations that oppose this legislation. It seems misguided during a pandemic when large numbers of Missourians are facing unemployment and food insecurity that SNAP households would face additional threats of hunger. Click here to send the Action Alert for SB 138, and encourage your Senator to keep SNAP benefits for Missouri families.



  FDA Announces Suspension of In-Person Dispensing Requirement for Abortion Pills During Remainder of Pandemic  

The Federal Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) announced on Tuesday that it would be suspending the in-person dispensing requirement for chemical abortion pills during the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The requirement, put in place under the Clinton Administration, ensures that pregnant women do not have contraindications that would make the pill even more dangerous for them. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement in response to the FDA's decision:

"It is difficult to see the FDA's decision to not enforce important safety protocols as anything other than callous capitulation to the requests of abortion activists without regard for the health and safety of the women involved. An in-person evaluation by a medical professional is necessary to accurately determine the age of the baby (abortion pills are only approved for use in the first 70 days), whether the pregnancy is ectopic (which the woman has no way of knowing on her own), and to test and treat for Rh-incompatibility between mother and baby. Without this information and proper treatment, a woman's health, future fertility, and life are placed in serious jeopardy. With this decision, not only are women being sold the lie that abortion will solve their problems, but also that chemical abortion is a safe and easy way to go about it. By pushing women away from medical oversight, abortion advocates are luring women into isolated, unsafe, and medically unwise decisions. The inalienable dignity of women and their unborn children deserves so much more."



  In-home COVID-19 Vaccines Available for Homebound Adults  

If you or a loved one are interested in getting vaccinated against COVID-19, but are homebound, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHHS) has good news. As of last week, the department is working with Area Agencies on Aging Resources to provide in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to homebound adults throughout our state. For more information on this program, visit the DHHS website.



  Thousands Gather for 2021 Midwest March for Life  
Photo courtesy Jay Nies, Catholic Missourian

On Wednesday, the Missouri State Capitol was the site of a gathering 2000 strong, all in the name of life. Supporters traveled from around the state, and for some, the country, to participate in the 2021 March for Life. The event featured local and national speakers, including Jeanne Mancini, President of the National March for Life, and local leaders such as Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe. During his speech, Lieutenant Governor Kehoe pointed to the cross atop St. Peter Church, recognizing its significance to all Christians. "It's the message that we bring into this building - and that's the way we need to vote, think and act every day we're in this building," Kehoe said. See photos from the day from The Catholic Missourian, and read more about the speakers in this article.