Florida would ban abortion post-viability, Ohio moves to ban abortion insurance, and more
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the Senate voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new HHS Secretary to oversee the implementation of ObamaCare, states around the country were voting to protect the unborn, fighting for marriage, and wrestling with a wave of transgender “anti-discrimination” proposals that would allow biological men to use women's restroom and shower facilities.
The state of Florida is poised to protect children from abortion if they have the capacity to survive outside the womb. H.B. 1047, which would bar abortions after viability, passed the Senate by a party line 24-15 vote. State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, told the Miami Herald if a woman wishes to abort, she should “make that choice before the baby is able to live on its own outside of the womb.” The bill previously passed the House 70-45 and is now on the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, a pro-life Republican. He is expected to sign the measure, which would penalize abortionists who abort a child after that point unless they certify, in writing, that an abortion is necessary to save the mother's life or physical health. The move comes as the Florida Planned Parenthood PAC has launched a voter campaign designed, in the words of CEO Lillian Tamayo, to focus on “the wave of anti-women’s health legislation.”
State Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional marriage protection amendment, saying redefining marriage would "impose significant public harm" on society. More than 61 percent of Florida voters approved Florida's Amendment 2 in 2008, with surveys finding the state's black population among those most likely to approve. The ACLU is suing to overturn the measure, which was intended to protect an ancient institution that fosters child-rearing. "Florida's marriage laws, she said in her court brief, “have a close, direct, and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.”
An Ohio bill would bar all insurance companies statewide from covering abortion except in the case of ectopic or tubal pregnancies. The legislature had the first hearing on H.B. 351, introduced by Cincinnati Rep. John Becker, on Tuesday. It would also prevent taxpayers from subsidizing abortifacient contraception such as the IUD for state employees through their insurance plans. Democratic Rep. John Carney said it is "just a fact" that the IUD is not an abortifacient; however, health agencies and the device's manufacturer agree the IUD may prevent the implantation of a newly conceived child. The insurance provision follows the lead of neighboring Michigan, which is traditionally more liberal on abortion. The Ohio bill does not allow anyone who receives state funds to purchase the separate “abortion rider.”
Senate Democrats have reintroduced the Women's Equality Act, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10-point bill that contains a plank allowing a massive expansion of abortion statewide. Just weeks earlier, the Senate Health Committee voted down the abortion provision as a stand-alone measure dubbed the “Reproductive Health Act,” by a 9-7 party line vote. The WEA would formally extend legal sanction to late-term abortion and open the door to non-physicians performing abortions. Cuomo first introduced the omnibus bill allegedly advancing women's rights in June 2013, likening it to the Bill of Rights. Although it passed the Assembly that month, it was defeated in the Senate. Some see Cuomo as a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, challenging Hillary Clinton from the left. According to People's World, the official publication of the Communist Party USA, Cuomo was recently endorsed for re-election as governor by the Working Families Party, a coalition of former ACORN affiliates and labor unions.
Illinois right to life supporters have expressed concern that the Republican candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner, skipped the 45th anniversary dinner of Illinois Right to Life but two days later showed up at a pro-abortion event hosted by the ACLU. The ACLU Bill of Rights event, hosted in part by Democratic congresswoman and Democratic Socialists of America member Jan Schakowsky, celebrated the “right to choose.” Illinois Right to Life Committee Executive Director Emily Zender told Illinois Review, a state conservative publication, “It is disgusting that Mr. Rauner would give money to, and celebrate with, an organization that brags about its support of partial birth abortion, a gruesome procedure involving the severing of the spinal cords of fully developed unborn children.” David E. Smith of the Illinois Family Institute asked, "When is Mr. Rauner going to reach out to conservatives in Illinois?” According to the Huffington Post, Rauner has said that “the right for a woman to choose is a national law. That’s not going to change in Illinois.” However, he said he supports parental notification laws and bans on late-term abortion.
Rauner is also experiencing trouble for his position on redefining marriage. Rauner said that the state's voters should have decided whether the state would legalize gay “marriage,” rather than having a bill pass the legislature. But he told CBS in Chicago that he is not opposed to redefining marriage, and now that the law has changed, “I don’t have any agenda to change it.” The law, signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is running for re-election, took effect on Sunday, June 1. On Monday, Quinn attended a homosexual “wedding,” where he called the new law “a great civil rights measure." According to the Northwest Herald, Quinn added, "I didn't need a referendum to tell me what was the right thing to do."
Illinois voters will be consulted on whether insurance plans should have to offer contraception – but their decision will not have any effect on the law. The state Senate and House voted to place a non-binding question on the fall ballot asking, “Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?” However, state law has mandated such coverage since 2003. Republicans say the initiative is an attempt to increase Democratic turnout during the election. "It's a stunt. It's a game, and everybody down here knows it," said State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.
The senior policy advisor of Planned Parenthood of New England, Jennifer Frizzell, is considering running for the New Hampshire state Senate. WMUR reports that the abortion industry tactician is one of five potential candidates for the seat being vacated by long-serving Concord Democrat Sylvia Larsen.
Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill barring “discrimination” against transgender people, a bill that would require public facilities to allow biological males to use the women's restroom. Businesses also believe they open the door to costly but baseless discrimination lawsuits. O'Malley, a Democrat who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, signed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 in mid-May. Maryland became the 18th state to enact such a law.
Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, says he supports a law banning what he terms "discrimination" against homosexuals and transgender people, similar to the one signed by Maryland Gov. O'Malley. The bill is largely supported by the Chamber of Commerce. The city of Saginaw unanimously rejected such a “bathroom bill” around the time Gov. Snyder made his remarks. The self-described "nerd," who was swept into office in the Tea Party landslide year of 2010, is up for re-election this November. The GOP-controlled House may move forward on his suggestion. "If we can find a way to do that, he's ready to move on this,” according to Ari Adler, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger of Marshall.
Meanwhile, a new poll shows that support for marriage redefinition is falling in Michigan. The EPIC-MRA poll finds the public evenly divided on the issue. In a hypothetical vote to legalize gay "marriage," voters split 47-46 in favor, with seven percent undecided. That's down from last year, when voters supported gay "marriage" by a 10-point margin of 51-41.
Texas AG to Target: Show me how you’ll protect women and kids from criminals
AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The latest backlash Target received as a result of its transgender bathroom policy was a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the company to provide its safety policies to protect women and children from “those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.”
“Target, of course, is free to choose such a policy for its Texas stores,” Paxton wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell. He noted the possibility of the Texas Legislature addressing the issue in the future, but said, “regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity.”
“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton continued.
More than 1.1 million people have pledged to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms. Opponents of the policy worry that it puts women and children at risk by emboldening predators, who may now freely enter women’s restrooms.
Target’s new policy is “inclusive,” the company claims, and they say “everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.”
“Texans statewide can no longer be silent on the issue of protecting the safety of women and children,” Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said in a statement Wednesday urging Texans to boycott Target. This is the first time in its history the pro-family group has called for a boycott.
“We need all Texans to understand that Target is using this radical change in their store policy to try convince people that our laws should be changed in this dangerous direction as well,” said Saena. “Our goal with this boycott is for Target to change its dangerous new policy, to raise awareness of the real threats to safety that these policies bring and to help businesses and lawmakers understand the significant opposition to such measures that is growing daily… Texans all across our state must join this Boycott Target effort before someone gets hurt.”
On Tuesday a male allegedly filmed an underage girl at a Frisco, Texas, Target fitting room. Police are searching for the man.
There have been numerous incidents of male predators across North America accessing women’s facilities and citing transgender policies as allowing them to do so.
Christians, America has reached a crisis point. Are you ready to take up this challenge?
May 5, 2016 (Albert Mohler) -- For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose?
To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.
Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.
Much of this was essentially affirmed until the early decades of the 20th century when progressivists began promoting an agenda that fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government in public life. By the middle of the 20th century, the Democratic Party had essentially embraced this progressivist agenda, becoming committed to an increasingly powerful government—a government whose powers exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. At the same time, the Democratic Party also began advocating for a basic redefinition of the morality that shaped the common culture. By and large, however, the Republican Party continued to maintain a commitment to the vision of America’s founders, advocating for a traditional understanding of morality while also upholding the principle of limited government.
By the 1980s, the two parties represented two very different worldviews and two very different visions of American government. For decades, each party has acted rather predictably and in ways that accord with their fundamental principles. All of that, however, has now changed.
The 2016 presidential campaign has developed in an entirely unpredictable manner and, in many respects, represents a crisis in American democracy. This crisis is not limited to either party. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has won several stunning victories in the primary season over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While it is still extremely likely that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, Sanders support among voters represents a populist flirtation with Democratic Socialism. This pattern is something few Democrats could have imagined just one year ago. What this foray into Democratic Socialism represents, then, is a radical adjustment of the Democratic Party’s basic economic principles. Thus, even if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, the process will likely drag her even further to the left, eventually redefining the Democratic Party before our very eyes.
But if it is remarkable to see what is happening in the Democratic Party, it is absolutely shocking to see what is happening among Republicans. Traditionally, the Republican Party has established its reputation by standing for the principles advocated by the American Founders—limited government upheld by the health of society’s primary institutions such as marriage, family, and community. Yet Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against. Clearly, both political parties are now redefining themselves. What is not clear is where each party will ultimately end up. What is also not clear is whether the American experiment can survive such radical political change.
As already noted, the American experiment in limited government requires that the citizenry and those who hold public office honor certain moral virtues and respect the institutions that are crucial for a society to rightly function. Yet, we now find ourselves in a situation where the three leading candidates for president show little to no respect for such institutions in their articulations of public policy.
This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.
To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.
Headlines from around the world tell us that other representative democracies are at a similar moment of redefinition. Political turmoil now marks the United Kingdom and also nations like France and other key American allies. Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home. Yet if this is a moment of testing for democracy, it is also a crucial moment for Christian witness. This election cycle is going to be a particular test for American Christians—and we are about to find out if Christians are up to this challenge.
Reprinted with permission from Albert Mohler.
‘Sick and twisted’: Scientists keep embryos alive outside womb up to 13 days for experimentation
May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two teams of scientists have announced that they have been able to keep human embryos alive outside the womb for 13 days for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments. Some call the announcement the onset of a “Brave New World,” while others are petitioning lawmakers to lift sanctions that would keep scientists from experimenting on newly conceived babies even longer.
Researchers from Cambridge University, King's College, and Rockefeller University said in two separate reports that they stopped at 13 days only to avoid violating an internationally accepted law. At least 12 nations restrict the amount of time a newly conceived child may be kept alive in a laboratory to 14 days, the point at which scientists believe “individuality” begins.
The newest development allows scientists to observe newly conceived human beings after the point at which implantation in the womb would have occurred.
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, one of the studies' lead researchers, said her team's breakthrough could advance embryonic stem cell research and “can improve IVF success.”
Some scientists have called on the international community to extend the amount of time such experimentation can take place.
“If restrictions such as the 14-day rule are viewed as moral truths, such cynicism would be warranted,” three experts – Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston – wrote in a commentary published yesterday in Nature magazine. “But when they are understood to be tools designed to strike a balance between enabling research and maintaining public trust, it becomes clear that, as circumstances and attitudes evolve, limits can be legitimately recalibrated.”
Pro-life experts said the experimentation destroys human life and could lead to grave ethical dilemmas by extending the research.
“No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the experimentation “sick and twisted.”
“Science has undeniably proven that a new human life, with unrepeatable DNA, begins at conception,” she said. “There is no reason for experimentation on that human life and science itself should not be heralding thae fact that a tiny human being can survive now for two weeks outside of the womb, all for the sole purpose of experimentation.”
Dr. Prentice noted that embryonic stem cell research “has yielded no benefit thus far,” leading even its most vocal advocates, such as Michael J. Fox, to admit it has not lived up to its promise.
“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” asked Prentice. “This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions.”
Dr. Prentice encouraged Congress “to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”