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PA gov backs bill to force Catholic schools to keep gay teachers, WV whistleblower under fire, more

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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While most Americans are moving feverishly to get ready for the holidays, legislators across the country are acting to push through last minute items before everyone leaves town.

Pennsylvania

Republican Governor Tom Corbett has announced that he supports a bill to prohibit alleged discrimination by state employers “based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” A sponsor of the Senate version said the bill would force Catholic schools to retain homosexual teachers who get “married” in other states. However, Corbett says his office is still fighting a lawsuit to overturn the state's Defense of Marriage Act, protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Plaintiffs objected last week, when the state sought information about possible previous heterosexual affairs the couples may have had, with an attorney for the ACLU saying his clients' sexual preference was “irrelevant.” Explaining the tension in his positions, the governor told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that, while he opposed “discrimination, it doesn't change my position on the issue of the definition of a marriage.” That baby-splitting approach may explain why Corbett's approval rating has hit an all-time low, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Results show that 53 percent of state voters disapprove of his job as governor, while only 36 percent approve. He now trails potential Democratic nominee Allyson Schwartz, a former director of a Planned Parenthood facility, by eight points.

West Virginia

A pro-abortion Democratic lawmaker is seeking to punish a pro-life doctor who blew the whistle on unsafe abortion practices in West Virginia. Dr. Byron Calhoun of Morgantown informed state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a letter that he sees women who have been harmed by botched abortions “probably at least weekly.” The letter called attention to the fact that West Virginia does not regulate or inspect abortion facilities in a meaningful way, something Morrisey would like to change. But State Delegate Nancy Peoples Guthrie, D-Kanawha, said that Calhoun has not reported any incidents to the state Board of Medicine. In a letter to the board, she accuses Calhoun of either lying or failing to report, demanding “swift action” against him. “Given Dr. Calhoun's position in teaching future physicians at West Virginia University and the impact his statements have made on matters of significant public importance in our state, your review is critical.”

Wisconsin

Abortionists in Wisconsin have won another delay before a law requiring them to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital takes effect. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has left in place a temporary stay put in place by U.S. District Judge William Conley this summer. Governor Scott Walker signed the bill, which critics said would have shut down half the state's abortion facilities, in July. Days later, Conley said the law did “irreparable harm” to women. The state's pro-life leaders say Conley has it backwards. Heather Weininger, the legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said, "The whole purpose of the law to protect women's health is negated by preventing the law from going into effect." Although the three judges said the law may lack a sound footing in the law, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a similar law from Texas last month.

Ohio

A bill that would have required parents to undergo a rigorous state investigation before receiving permission to homeschool their children has been withdrawn. After massive backlash State Senator Capri Carafo, D-Hubbard, withdrew Senate Bill 248, “Teddy's Law,” saying, “Unfortunately, the true intent of the bill to curtail child abuse has been eclipsed by the issue of homeschooling.”

North Dakota

North Dakota is set to have 15 percent fewer abortions in 2013 than in 2012. The number of abortions statewide crept down to 1,125 abortions in 2013 from 1,330 in 2012. The state is home to only one abortion facility.

New Mexico

The New Mexico State Supreme Court may have ruled that the state must perform and recognize same-sex “marriages,” but the state's largest American Indian tribe says that has no bearing on their customs and practices. The Navajo Nation says the state ruling will not affect its decision not to marry or recognize the “marriages” contracted by homosexuals, polygamists, or practitioners of incest. The tribe enacted the Diné Marriage Act in 2005, declaring all such ceremonies “void” under their sovereign law. “Most would agree that the Navajo Nation has taken a conservative approach to gay marriage,” said Jared Touchin, a spokesman for the nation's Office of the Speaker.

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Virginia

Planned Parenthood said defeating Ken Cuccinelli for governor of Virginia was its top priority. But the group is expressing disapproval now that Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has announced he will keep Bill Hazel, who was appointed by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, as secretary of health and human services. Although not a champion of new regulations for abortion facilities nor a bill requiring an ultrasound before an abortion, the abortion lobby told McAuliffe that Hazel did not object to the measures and was therefore not to be left with gainful employment. Hazel also spoke of his opposition to ObamaCare at Liberty University. Now the lobby feels its advice has been ignored. "We felt there was a disinterest or lack of engagement in the process,” Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told local media. Lauren Rankin of Salon went further.In reappointing Hazel to health secretary, McAuliffe has betrayed the very voters who delivered him the governorship, and sent a message that while abortion rights may have been front and center in his campaign, that may be where they stay,” she wrote. However, she noted that the speculation is that McAuliffe retained Hazel in an effort to sway Republicans to support a proposed massive expansion of Medicaid.

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