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One state’s abortion rate increased for the first time since 2001; three governors pass legislation concerning gay “marriage,” unborn victims of violence, and transgenderism; one state is fighting fetal alcohol syndrome by providing bar restrooms with state-funded pregnancy tests; and more.  Here is a glance at what is happening around the country concerning life and family issues.

OHIO

The abortion rate in the State of Ohio increased for the first time since 2001.  In 2012, more than 25,470 abortions were performed, while about 700 less were reported in 2011.  More than 37,460 abortions were reported in 2001.

Meanwhile, a petition to overturn the state’s marriage definition will not be on November’s ballot because of its failure to garner the required number of signatures by its July 2 deadline.  The proposal, which was put forth by gay-rights group FreedomOhio, would allow two consenting adults to “marry”, regardless of gender.

State Democratic Representatives have also introduced a bill seeking to undermine Ohio’s informed consent laws.  Currently, abortionists are required to check for a fetal heartbeat and disclose other information to a woman seeking an abortion.  State Democrats, however, say these requirements complicate the doctor’s ability to provide accurate medical information to the mother.

FLORIDA

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act into law last month.  It is now a crime in the state to harm an unborn baby in any stage of pregnancy, even if the perpetrator of the violent crime was unaware of the pregnancy.  The law has been commonly referred to as the “Remee Lee” law, after the woman whose case propelled the bill into existence.  Lee’s boyfriend slipped her an abortion-inducing pill without her knowledge, causing the death of her unborn child.

CALIFORNIA

Abortion funding has seen a substantial increase in the State of California, even while the state’s Medicaid program will endure financial cuts by the California Department of Health Care Services (CDHCS).  The department plans to cut Medi-Cal funding by 10%, but expand abortion funding by 40%.  The changes were implemented as part of the state budget signed by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown.  Rev. Jaime Soto of the California Catholic Conference decried the budget proposal, saying, “It’s cheaper for state government to pay for abortions than care for mothers and children.”

PENNSYLVANIA

The Schuylkill County Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans' Court is appealing last year’s ruling by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III which struck down Pennsylvania’s gay “marriage” ban.  Theresa Santai-Gaffney’s appeal was rejected by the 3rd District Court of Appeals last week and she hopes to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Also in Pennsylvania, over 2300 signatures were collected by the American Family Association of Pennsylvania urging Republican Governor Tom Corbett to appeal Judge Jones’ decision which declared the commonwealth’s traditional marriage amendment unconstitutional.  The petition was delivered to the governor last month.

MICHIGAN

The 2014-2015 budget approved by the Michigan State Legislature includes an $800,000 contract to Real Alternatives Inc., a non-profit organization geared toward financially helping Michigan crisis pregnancy centers.  The money is intended by the legislature “to promote childbirth” through abortion alternatives, such as adoption, and abstinence education. 

Michigan legislators have also introduced a bill which would criminalize abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestation.  HB 5463 would not apply “when a medical emergency exists.”  Doctors who perform an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat could face up to four years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Democratic lawmakers in Michigan have moved to repeal an abortion insurance law that was passed in December of last year.  The law requires businesses or people to buy extra insurance in order to cover abortions. 

NEW YORK

GOP senators in New York blocked two homosexuality-related bills from coming to a vote last month at the end of the Senate session.  The Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) would have expanded the already existing nondiscrimination policies on the basis of gender identity for housing, employment, and public accommodations.  The second bill would have banned therapists and counselors from providing reparative therapy for minors with homosexual tendencies.  Proponents of the bills believe the measures would have passed the Senate if they had come to a vote. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced that the state will no longer require proof of surgery in order for a person to change the gender on his or her birth certificate.  People can now simply submit an affidavit from a medical professional averring that they have received treatment for gender identity disorder.  This change will not apply to New York City, which issues its own birth certificates.

The Independent Democratic Committee (IDC) in New York has declared its intention to fully align itself with the Democratic Party after November’s midterm elections.  This coalition would all but ensure Democratic control of the state’s legislature, which would have severe consequences in the abortion arena.  The IDC’s previous coalition with the Republican Party was instrumental in blocking Gov. Cuomo’s massive abortion expansion bill last year.

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker reaffirmed his support for traditional marriage last month at a campaign stop in Ashwaubenon.  “I voted with the majority of the people in this state in 2006 for the constitutional amendment that defined marriage. My position hasn’t changed,” Walker stated.  Walker is seeking reelection this fall.

Barbara Lyons will step down as Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life at the end of this year.  Lyons was with the organization for 40 years and several pro-life legislations were passed under her direction.  She will be succeeded by Heather Weininger.

ALASKA

The University of Alaska is spearheading a $400,000 program to provide bar bathrooms in the state with pregnancy tests in an effort to fight fetal alcohol syndrome.  Alaska has the highest rate of fetal alcohol syndrome in the country.

INDIANA

The opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” in Indiana outspent supporters of the amendment by more than double.  Five separate groups who supported the ban spent a collective $54,000 between November and April, in contrast to $109,000 spent by Freedom Indiana, which opposed the ban.  The proposed amendment was scheduled to be voted on by Indiana’s citizens this year, but late changes to the proposal have caused the vote to be delayed to 2016 at the earliest.

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