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