SC protects infants born alive, Ohio attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, and MO conscience rights
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Social issues continue to animate state legislatures across the country as many approach the summer recess. Pro-life measures are advancing – but so, too, are bills that would undermine the traditional family and even punish those who recognize traditional forms of sexual identity and appearance.
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After years of failed efforts, both houses of the South Carolina legislature have passed a born alive infants’ protection act. The House unanimously approved the bill, which says doctors must attempt to save any baby who survives an abortion, by a 107-0 vote. The Senate approved the bill by a decisive 27-3 margin last month. It faces one final vote, which the Associated Press describes as “perfunctory,” before going to the governor’s desk. Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called the measure “the most commonsense pro-life bill available. Surely all Americans can agree that a child–born, helpless and living–deserves the protections of the law and the compassion of all people.” The state bill mirrors the federal act, which passed in 2002. Barack Obama opposed protection for infants born alive as an Illinois state senator.
After an amendment to a previous bill failed, a new stand-alone bill may place Planned Parenthood at the end of the line for state funding. House Bill 298, now before the House Health Committee prefers local health providers. The new funding formula threatens to cut off the $1.6 million Ohioans currently give Planned Parenthood’s 32 clinics statewide.
The state of New York may amend all state anti-discrimination laws to punish employers or landlords who do not hire or rent to transgender people. The new standing would apply to employment and housing, as well. The Senate Rules Committee Under President Obama, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and HUD both interpret sex discrimination as including transgender discrimination – for instance, refusing to hire a transgender person for a public position or refusing to rent a room to a transgender person. The state Assembly has already passed the bill on an 81-59 vote. The Gender Expression and Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) bill has passed the Assembly five times. State Senator Daniel Squadron, D-NY, said he believes “the votes are there” if the bill comes before the full body. “It seems to be a core civil rights issue,” he said.
Two pro-life measures have advanced in the Pelican State. A bill introduced by State Senator Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, that would give women the opportunity to hear a fetal heartbeat before undergoing an abortion passed the House Health and Welfare Committee. The state senator testified in the other chamber on its behalf. One of the bill’s opponents, Jackie Hawkins, told the press, “No woman seeking an abortion would want these images and sounds replayed in her head day after day.” Meanwhile, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee unanimously supported a fetal pain bill introduced by Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego. It would end abortion at the time infants begin to feel pain, at 20 weeks after fertilization.
Missouri is one step closer to protecting the conscience rights of healthcare workers. The House passed a measure allowing pro-life individuals to refuse to distribute contraceptives or abortifacients that would violate their conscience by a 117-37 vote. Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said the bill protected Missourians from “the onerous mandates contained in the federal healthcare takeover.” A joint House-Senate Committee will now try to reconcile two bills passed by the two chambers, which differ on numerous points.
On another front, crisis pregnancy centers will operate free of harassment if a bill passed by the Missouri House becomes law. State Representative Chuck Gatschenberger, a Republican, introduced a measure forbidding local governments from harassing the women’s centers. He said he acted to assure the cash-strapped healthcare agencies do not have to use their limited resources fighting lawsuits or unconstitutional laws infringing on their First Amendment rights.
A bill requiring more stringent health care standards from abortion clinics appears doomed. The state’s abortion mills would have to provide the same standards as ambulatory care clinics. The bill, introduced by State Representative Mary Sue McClurkin, a Republican from Pelham, passed the House by an overhelming 93-4 vote but died in the Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee. Rep. McClurkin promises to reintroduce the bill next February.
Defenders of marriage are warning civil unions are not dead yet. Governor John Hickenlooper called a special session of the legislature to pass the bill on May 9. Although the bill – which would allow any two non-related people to declare themselves in a union and enjoy tax and other benefits – failed, it could be reactivated as long as the legislature is in session. “The civil unions bill is a vehicle by which gay activists who support same-sex marriage can file suit in federal court against Colorado’s marriage amendment, which was passed by 56 percent of voters in 2006,” Citizenlink spokeswoman Carrie Gordon Earll told the Catholic News Agency.
The House reversed itself on a measure that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks in the state of New Hampshire. After approving the measure on Thursday by a four-vote margin, the House voted it down by 183-95. The State Senate had shown no signs the measure would pass the provision, which was attached to a larger bill allowing physicians to detect brain injuries sooner.