Anyone who follows the antics of Tea Partying State Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-19) is used to her endless bleating about a big government takeover. At the same time, many of us have also noted Davis’ proclivities for pushing legislation that oversteps normative bounds in terms of government intrusion into personal areas such as marriage, divorce, sexuality and choice. Yesterday, Davis, in her role as Chair of the House Special Committee on Children and Families, may have gone a little too far and unequivocally revealed her hypocrisy about the perils of big government’s stealthy takeover tactics when she made a flagrant bid to impose her anti-choice beliefs on the rest of us by trickery.
Democratic members of the Committee assert that Davis attempted to substitute the text of one anti-abortion bill, HB1236, which had not been forwarded to her committee for action, for HB1238 which was scheduled to be heard yesterday morning. HB 1236 mandates a complex series of medical screening criteria before an abortion can be performed. The less restrictive text of HB1238 rquires evidence of informed consent on the part of a woman seeking abortion. Both bills are onerous, but HB1236 is ultimately more restrictive.
Davis’ attempt to switch bills violates Article III, Section 21 of the Missouri Constitution, which prohibits bills from being changed from their original purpose. The action also could violate Missouri’s Sunshine Law, which requires advance public notice of what legislation will be considered at government meetings.
To add insult to injury, Davis not only attempted to thwart the legislative process through deception, but she attempted to stifle discussion that might have revealed her subterfuge:
Davis allotted nearly all of the March 3 hearing to supporters and prohibited the standard practice of allowing committee members to question witnesses. After all supporters had testified, Davis allowed a mere five minutes of questioning about the bill at the end of the hearing.
One can understand that the general Republican postmodern approach to truth may have encouraged little Cynthia to believe that her ends justified her means – and since she makes no bones about taking her inspiration from David Barton, founders of the Wallbuilders, a group that has set out to rewrite American history to conform to their fundamentalist religious preferences, she may even think that she is ethically entitled to act in this fashion.
If Davis had indeed tried to subvert the legislative process, she has violated the public’s trust and is unfit for office. I’ll certainly email (Ronald.Richard@house.mo.gov) or phone (573-751-2173) the speaker of the house to inquire and ask that she be removed from her position as Chair of the House Special Committee on Children and Families. Who knows, maybe she’ll get some kind of slap on the wrist?