Ben Johnson

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Arkansas House defies governor on 12-wk abortion ban, OK stares down Obama on HHS mandate, and more

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 22, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) - The pro-life movement continues to see successes, and failures, at the state level. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, must weigh whether the state legislature would override his potential veto of the 12-week abortion ban, which he believes is unconstitutional. Washington state may force health insurers to cover abortion if they cover prenatal care. And in Indiana, restrictions threaten to close a Planned Parenthood facility -- among other state items.

Arkansas

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed two bills limiting abortion on Thursday by overwhelming margins. A fetal pain bill that would effectively restrict abortion to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy has passed both chambers of the state legislature and is now on the desk of Governor Michael Beebe, a Democrat. The House passed that restriction by a vote of 80-10. Mary Newbern, a lobbyist with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, called the ban “bad for women in Arkansas."

A stricter ban, a “heartbeat” bill that would place the cut-off date at 12 weeks, passed the Republican-dominated House on Thursday by a vote of 68-20. It must return to the state senate, which passed a different version of the bill. The House version added an amendment to allow an abortion in the case of a severe fetal defect.

Both include exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Governor Beebe has expressed doubts about the 12-week ban but has not stated he will veto the measure.

Washington

The Washington House of Representatives voted on Friday to force insurance companies to cover abortion or give up health coverage for expecting mothers. The chamber passed the Reproductive Parity Act by a vote of 54-43. The measure would force insurance companies that pay for prenatal care to cover abortion, as well. Its fate in the state senate is uncertain, as it may violate the federal Hyde/Weldon amendment, which withholds U.S. tax dollars from any state and local government that enacts abortion coverage mandates. Democratic Governor Jay Inslee has demanded the bill's passage, saying, “The Senate should not shut the door of democracy when it comes to women’s health care.”

Oklahoma

Oklahoma may be one of a number of states on a collision course with the federal government over the implementation of ObamaCare. If adopted, a new bill would respect the First Amendment rights of Oklahoma business owners by not forcing them to cover contraception, sterilization, or abortifacients in their health care plans. The Senate Business and Commerce Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 452 by State Senator Clark Jolley, a Republican from Edmond. The bill states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of state or federal law, no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees.” The bill would be welcomed by the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby. They live in Oklahoma City. President Barack Obama did not carry a single county in the state in 2008 or 2012.

Florida

This week legislators in both chambers of the state house filed a bill to prohibit abortion for the purpose of selecting the child's race or sex. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, House Bill 845 was introduced in the House by State Representative Charles Van Zant and in the state senate as State Senate Bill 1072, introduced by Senator Greg Evers. Florida Right to Life strongly supports the legislation.

Indiana

Planned Parenthood is warning its facility in Lafayette may have to close if a bill passes the legislature requiring it to perform an ultrasond before and after administering RU-486. The bill, introduced by State Senator Travis Holdman, passed the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee Wednesday by a 7-5 vote. Holdman said, "We're just trying to control and regulate abortion-inducing drugs, which heretofore have not been regulated by the state of Indiana. I don't believe we're asking for anything that's unreasonable. We're talking about the life of the mother and the child." The bill exempts private physicians who administer the abortion pill.

The committee also passed a bill introduced by Michael Young to strengthen informed consent laws, presenting illustrations of fetal development in color. It would also remove provisions forcing an abortion-minded woman to hear her baby's heartbeat before the abortion.

New Mexico

The House Voters and Elections Committee voted 7-4 to kill a same-sex "marriage" measure. If passed, the measure from Democratic State Representative Brian Egolf of Santa Fe would have had voters decide in November 2014 on a constitutional amendment redefining marriage. Two Democrats crossed the aisle to join the committee's Republicans in blocking the measure. Egolf said, “If this doesn’t go forward, it’s an extraordinary shame.”

Montana

Anti-assisted suicide is again before the state of Montana. Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, introduced a bill seeking to penalize the practice, which was essentially legalized by the state supreme court in 2009. A similar bill failed last year.

Michigan

A House committee unanimously voted to strip language out of an insurance bill that would have forbidden private insurers from covering abortion in the state of Michigan. Republican Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a similar proposal in December. The state's Right to Life chapter strongly opposed the amendment, both because it included exceptions for rape and incest, and because the chapter felt its language was unduly vague.

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Illinois

The date for the hearing of a bill to redefine marriage redefinition has been set. The House Executive Committee has announced it will open deliberations on February 26 on Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. A recent tactic of the marriage redefinition movement is to present its efforts as “religious freedom,” in that it does not compel churches to carry out same-sex wedding ceremonies, but mandates that all state facilities recognize homosexual unions as the equivalent of existing marriages.

Rhode Island

The vast majority of clergy in most religions oppose same-sex “marriage.” However, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island announced its support for a bill to redefine marriage in the state. Not one of the 24 rabbis – representing Conservative, Reform, Orthodox and Reconstructionist branches of Judaism – vetoed a measure to support the bill. 

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A Planned Parenthood facility in Denver, Colorado
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Colorado judge tosses suit alleging Planned Parenthood used state funds to pay for abortions

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Alliance Defending Freedom "will likely appeal" a Monday court decision dismissing their suit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains illegally used state funds to pay for abortions, an ADF lawyer told LifeSiteNews.

The ADF lawsuit claims that $1.4 million went from state government agencies to a Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin dismissed the case on the basis that ADF could not prove the funds paid for abortions. But ADF maintains that funding an abortion facility is indirectly paying for abortions, which violates state law.

ADF senior counsel Michael Norton -- whose wife, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed the lawsuit – told LifeSiteNews that "no one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state’s constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business with state taxpayer dollars."

"The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality," said Norton.

According to Colorado law, "no public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion." There is a stipulation that allows for "the General Assembly, by specific bill, [to] authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each."

According to court documents, the Colorado law was affirmed by state voters in 1984, with an appeal attempt rejected two years later. In 2001, an outside legal firm hired by Jane Norton -- who was lieutenant governor at the time -- found that Planned Parenthood was "subsidizing rent" and otherwise providing financial assistance to Planned Parenthood Services Corporation, an abortion affiliate. After the report came out, and Planned Parenthood refused to disassociate itself from the abortion affiliate, the state government stopped funding Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, however, that has changed, which is why the lawsuit is filed against Planned Parenthood, and multiple government officials, including Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to ADF legal counsel Natalie Decker, the fact that Planned Parenthood sent funds to the abortion affiliate should have convinced McCallin of the merits of the case. "The State of Colorado and the Denver court acknowledged that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars, in addition to millions of 'federal' tax dollars, flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate," said Decker.

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"Without even having the facts of the case developed, the Denver court seems to have granted motions to dismiss filed by the State of Colorado and Planned Parenthood on grounds the term 'indirectly' could not mean what Ms. Norton and Governor Owens said it meant in 2002 when they defunded Planned Parenthood."

"That, of course, is the plain meaning of Colo. Const., Art. V, § 50 which was implemented by the citizens of Colorado, and the reason for Ms. Norton’s lawsuit."

Decker told LifeSiteNews that "Colorado law is very clear," and that the state law "prohibits Colorado tax dollars from being used to directly or indirectly pay for induced abortions."

She says her client "has been denied the opportunity to fully develop the facts of the case and demonstrate exactly what the Colorado tax dollars have been used for." Similarly, says Decker, it is not known "exactly what those funds were used for. At this time, there is simply no way to conclude that tax dollars have not been used to directly pay for abortions or abortion inducing drugs and devices."

"What we do know is that millions of Colorado tax dollars have flowed through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that those tax dollars are being used to indirectly pay for abortions."

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains did not return multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit.

The dismissal comes as Planned Parenthood fights an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general over a video by Live Action, as well as a lawsuit by a mother whose 13-year old daughter had an abortion in 2012 that she alleges was covered up by Planned Parenthood. The girl, who was being abused by her stepfather, was abused for months after the abortion.

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Courtesy of Online for Life
Steve Weatherbe

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Fledgling high-tech pro-life group marks 2,000 babies saved: 2-3 saved per day

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Online for Life, the Dallas-based pro-life marketing agency, saved its two-thousandth unborn baby earlier this year and is well on its way to saving its three thousandth by 2015.

“We are getting better all the time at what we do,” says founder Brian Fisher. “It used to be one baby saved every four to six weeks and now its two or three a day.”

But the most significant save? “It was the very first one,” he says, recalling the phone call from a crisis centre a month after OFL’s 2012 startup.  “And for me personally it was just a massive turning point … because [of] all the work and the money and testing and the volunteers and everything that led up to that moment. All the frustration of that was washed away in an instant because a child had been rescued that was about to be killed.”

Though increasing market savvy has led Online for Life to expand offline, the core of the non-profit, donor-financed operation remains SEO -- search engine optimization -- targeting young women who have just discovered they are pregnant and gone onto the Web to find the nearest abortion clinic.

Instead, they find the nearest crisis pregnancy center at the top of their results page. Since OFL went online it has linked with a network of 41 such centers, including two of its own it started this year, in a positive feedback loop that reinforces effective messaging first at the level of the Web, then at the first telephone call between the clinic and the pregnant woman, and finally at the first face-to-face meeting.

“Testing is crucial,” says Fisher. “We test everything we do.” Early on, Online for Life insisted the clinics it served have an ultrasound machine, because the prevailing wisdom in the prolife movement was that “once they saw their baby on ultrasound, they would drop the idea of having an abortion.” While the organization still insists on the ultrasound, its own testing and feedback from the CPCs indicates that three quarters of the women they see already have children. “They’ve already seen their own children on ultrasound and are still planning to abort.” So ultrasound images have lost their punch.

OFL has had to move offline to reach a significant minority who have neither computers, tablets, or cell phones.  Traditional electronic media spots as well as bus ads and billboards carry the message to them.

As well, says Fisher, “unwanted pregnancy used to be a high-school age problem; now that’s gone down in numbers and the average age of women seeking abortion has gone up to 24.” By that age, he says, they are “thoroughly conditioned by the abortion culture. Even before they got pregnant, they have already decided they would have an abortion if they did get pregnant.”

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What they need—and fast, in the first two minutes of the first phone call—is sympathy, support, and a complete absence of judgement. Online for Life is always gathering information from its network on what responses are most effective—and this can vary city to city. The organization offers training to clinic volunteers and staff that stresses a thorough knowledge of the services on tap. “Any major city has all sorts of services—housing, education, health—available,” says Fisher.

The problem that OFL was designed to address was the crisis pregnancy centers’ market penetration. Three percent of women with unwanted pregnancies were reaching out to the CPCs, and seven per cent of those who did reach out were having their babies. “So about 2.1 children were being saved for every 1,000 unwanted pregnancies,” says Fisher. “That’s not nearly enough.”

So Fisher and two fellow volunteers dreamed of applying online marketing techniques to the problem in 2009. Three years later Fisher was ready to leave his executive position at an online marketing agency to go full-time with the life-saving agency. Now they have 63 employees, most of them devoted to optimizing the penetration in each of the markets served by their participating crisis centers.

The results speak for themselves. Where OFL has applied its techniques, especially with its own clinics, as many as 15-18 percent of the targeted population of women seeking abortions get directed to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. “It depends on the centres’ budgets and on how many volunteers they have to be on the phones through the day and night,” he says. “But we are going to push it higher. We hope to save our 2,500th child by the end of the year.”

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Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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