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

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 photo of Kim Tucci at 25 weeks gestation Erin Elizabeth Photography
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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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