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Culture of Life Foundation Legislative Update

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On April 14th, by a 241-185 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure to de-fund Planned Parenthood under Obama’s new health care law.  The bill was subsequently defeated in the U.S. Senate by a 42-58 vote later the same day.  Similar to the House bill that would have fully repealed ObamaCare, the defeat of this bill in the Senate was easily predicted and expected.  Although the defeat of the bill de-funding Planned Parenthood may seem to be a pro-life loss, it plays a significant role in the long-term success of pro-life efforts on the legislative level.

The U.S. Senate and House votes on the de-funding bill exposed which senators and representatives favor taxpayer funding for abortion.  This information will be crucial to American voters during the upcoming Senate races.

The debate surrounding the funding of Planned Parenthood under ObamaCare also fueled the release of recent polling data which show that the majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortions.  Pro-life America is now equipped with the information it needs to vote for truly pro-life senators in the next round of elections.

Despite the setback of the pro-life cause on the federal level, there have been significant pro-life victories this year on the state level.  Notable pro-life successes so far this year include:

Fetal Pain Abortion Bans and Informed Consent – Idaho, Kansas (Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma)

Last week, Idaho and Kansas enacted the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  In response to the growing body of medical data fully establishing the capacity of an unborn child to feel pain, the laws ban abortions 20 weeks after conception. At that point, the unborn child’s neurological structures that are necessary to experience pain are developed.  The laws contain exceptions to save the life of the mother or to avert serious risk of substantial or irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.  In Idaho, the law passed by a vote of 54-14.

Alabama, Minnesota and Oklahoma are considering similar legislation, and are expected to such laws later this year.  Oklahoma Sen. Clark Jolley, a sponsor of the Oklahoma bill, stated that “we are not going to torture children in utero…unless the mother’s life is in danger.”  In Oklahoma, the bill passed in the House by a 94-2 vote, and in the Senate by a 38-8 vote.  The bill will be presented to the governor to be signed pending House approval of Senate changes.

In Indiana, a related informed consent bill received a 72-23 vote in the House (in March), and was just approved on April 13th by a 6-2 vote in the Senate Health Committee.  The bill, HB 1012, requires abortion practitioners to inform women seeking abortion of the capacity of unborn children to experience pain at or before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Ultrasound Requirements and “Telemedicine” Abortion Ban – Arizona

Two weeks ago, Arizona enacted HB 2416, a bill requiring abortion providers to offer women seeking abortions the opportunity to have an ultrasound exam, see the results and be given an explanation of the results at least one hour prior to the abortion procedure.  The ultrasound is optional for all women.  The new law also prohibits abortion providers from prescribing abortion drugs through “telemedicine” video conferences (e.g., Skype).

Prohibitions on Insurance Coverage, Taxpayer Funding and Tax Credits for Abortion – Arizona, Idaho (Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, South Carolina)

This month, Idaho and Virginia enacted “opt out” laws which prohibit insurance coverage of abortions under Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Both laws contain exceptions to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest.  In Idaho, this new law supports existing state law prohibiting private insurance companies from covering abortions except to save the life of the mother.

In addition, last week, the Georgia House approved a bill amendment by a 98-63 vote prohibiting forced taxpayer subsidization for abortion under Obama’s state Exchange program. Florida, Indiana and South Carolina are considering similar measures.  Last year, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee enacted the same “opt out” legislation.

Also this month, Arizona enacted H.B. 2384, which denies tax credits for donations to organizations – such as Planned Parenthood – that do abortions or refer women for abortions.  Lastly, on April 12th, Minnesota introduced H.F. 201 / S.F. 103, a bill banning taxpayer funding for abortion.

Abortion Clinic Regulations – Virginia (Indiana)

Earlier this year, Virginia passed a law that will require abortion clinics that perform five or more first-trimester abortions each month to meet the same health and safety standards as other facilities that provide outpatient surgery.  In the past, these abortion clinics were mis-categorized and subject to laws for physician offices where outpatient surgeries were not performed.  In Indiana, H.B. 1210, a bill requiring abortion practitioners to have hospital admitting privileges is in the pipeline.

In light of recent cases involving deaths and life-threatening injuries resulting from abortions performed at sub-standard facilities, laws such as these are necessary to protect the health and welfare of women.

Bans on Assisted Suicide – Idaho (Montana, Wyoming)

On April 15th, Idaho enacted S.B. 1070, which prohibits and criminalizes assisted suicide.  Montana and Wyoming have introduced similar laws into their state legislatures.  There are now 37 states which statutorily prohibit assisted suicide.

Ban on Sex-Selective, Race-Selective Abortions – Arizona

On March 30th, Gov. Brewer signed a law banning sex-selective and race-selective abortions.  The purpose of the new law is to end the practice of abortions targeted at girls and ethnic minorities.  This practice is common in countries such as China and India, and is also present in the U.S.  The bill passed in the Arizona House by a 41-18 vote, and in the Senate by a 21-5 vote.  The new law requires the mother to sign a statement that she is not aborting her child because of the child’s gender.  In addition, the law allows the father of the unborn child or the parents of a minor girl to bring a civil lawsuit against abortion practitioners who perform race-based or sex-selection abortions.

Abortion Reporting for Teens – Indiana

On April 14th, the Indiana Senate passed H.B. 1474 – a bill requiring abortion practitioners to report abortions on girls age 14 and under to the department of child services within three days of abortion – by a unanimous 48-0 vote.  The bill also requires the age of the father to be reported.  The purpose of the bill is to facilitate reporting of child sexual abuse, and to assist in the identification of child sexual abuse cases.  The bill is expected to be signed shortly by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Post-Viability Abortion Bans – Missouri, Ohio

Both Missouri and Ohio are on the verge of enacting statutory bans on post-viability abortions, with exceptions for the life of the mother.  In Missouri, the Senate approved the ban by a 27-5 vote.  After approval of Senate amendments by the House, the bill will be sent to the Governor.  In Ohio, the ban was passed by a 24-8 vote in the Senate.  A companion version has already been approved by the health committee of the Ohio House.

Honoring Pregnancy Care Centers – Alabama, Arizona, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia

This year, five states have introduced resolutions honoring and thanking pregnancy care centers for the life-affirming, free services they provide to women and families.

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In conclusion, the pro-life movement has made significant advancements so far this year, on both the state and federal level.  Although the U.S. Senate voted down a bill de-funding Planned Parenthood under Obama’s health care law, the vote has provided American voters with an official record exposing “who’s who” on the abortion funding issue.  The vote has provided guidance for pro-life voters, who can now take the next step of electing pro-life senators.  Lastly, the defeat of the de-funding bill does not outshine the numerous life-affirming laws that have been introduced and passed in the state legislatures this year.

 

(c) 2011 Culture of Life Foundation.  Reproduction granted with attribution.