State Pro-Life Legislation Continues to Move Forward

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-lifers are busy everywhere. Here’s a brief portrait of only some of the recent action in the state legislatures.

So-called “opt-out” language is on the governor’s desk in Idaho, Utah, and Montana and has passed one house in South Carolina and Oklahoma. Opt-out laws prevent the insurance policies that are going to sold through health insurance “exchanges” established by ObamaCare from offering abortion coverage.

As I was about to post this blog, the Washington Post reported that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has taken action on this front. During the last legislative session the General Assembly started the process of creating its own insurance exchange for Virginia. “McDonnell’s amendment would prohibit any insurance plan offered as part of the exchange from including coverage for abortions, except in instances of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk,” the Post reported. “The General Assembly will consider McDonnell’s amendments to bills Wednesday.”

“This type of bill respects the right of conscience of people who strongly oppose the use of their dollars to kill unborn children,” said NRLC Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch.

In Kansas, pro-lifers are on their way to a third victory this session. On a vote of 97-26, the House sent along to the Senate H Sub SB 36, intended to keep closer tabs on abortion clinics and by so doing protect women. In 2003 and 2005, then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed nearly identical abortion clinic licensure bills.

Among other components the bill would require timely reporting of injuries or deaths; abortionists would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic; when chemical abortifacients such as RU486 are used, the woman must be present—as opposed to being miles away and having the abortionist talk to her via a webcam.

Pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback already has two pro-life measures on his desk.  HB 2035–“Parental Rights Act”—requires parental consent for minors seeking an abortion

HB 2218–the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”– prohibits abortions on babies 20 weeks post-fertilization, or older, based on the scientifically established fact that by this juncture the unborn can experience pain. Thirteen bills patterned on Nebraska’s first of its kind law, passed in 2010.

It is significant that Rachel Sussman, a senior policy analyst for Planned Parenthood, claimed the law was “clearly unconstitutional” yet said that “the Kansas chapter is unlikely to challenge it in court until similar laws are tested elsewhere.”
Oklahoma’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was approved by the Oklahoma Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday on a vote of 6-1.  HB 1888 now heads to the full Senate.

Earlier this month, the measure passed the Oklahoma House by a vote of 94-2.  Representative Pam Peterson, who sponsored the bill, said at the time, “The science is there,” referring to the many scientific studies documenting that unborn children can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization. “People on both sides of the abortion debate should agree that gratuitous suffering of an unborn child is really incompatible with a decent and humane society.  [This bill] shows the humanness of that unborn child.” 

Just before consideration of the bill on the House floor, Rep. Peterson sent her House colleagues the following link to an ultrasound video of an unborn child at 20 weeks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng-CS1PBJG8

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Senator Clark Jolley, explained at yesterday’s committee meeting that unborn babies at 20 weeks “may not be viable, but they can feel pain.”  Responding to a committee member opposed to the bill who was arguing that late abortion should remain an option for parents whose child had been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, Senator Jolley pointed out, “They will have zero chance of survival if they abort.” 

Oklahomans For Life state chairman Tony Lauinger said, “That a child in utero has been diagnosed as having an anomaly is no reason to abort the child.  First of all, such diagnoses are often mistaken.  And even if it’s known with certainty that an unborn baby has a disease or disability, abortion still is not justified.  We are opposed to euthanasia whether the victim is an ‘imperfect’ unborn child, or a frail, elderly person whose death might be greeted with relief.  Euthanizing those who are considered ‘imperfect’ or ‘burdensome’ is never acceptable.”    

Oklahoma has a second key bill scheduled for consideration in committee this week – the Abortion-Is-Not-Health-Care bill.  SB 547 would prohibit coverage for elective abortions under health-insurance plans in Oklahoma, affirm the principle that abortion is not health care, and protect the conscience rights of pro-life premium payers so they’re not complicit in the killing. 

On Wednesday, “on a voice vote with no audible opposition,” the Alabama House Health Committee passed its Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kerry Rich, now goes to the House where prospects appear good.Meanwhile on Tuesday Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law House Bill 2443, making it for the first state to make sex- or race-selection abortions a crime. Sponsored by state Representative Steve Montenegro, the law makes it a felony for an abortionist to perform an abortion based on the child’s sex or race. A spokesman for Gov. Brewer told ABC News, “Governor Brewer believes society has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable — the unborn — and this legislation is consistent with her strong pro-life track record.”

Opponents derided the law, insisting such abortions were not occurring. But ABC News interviewed Lena Edlund of Cornell University. Edlund and fellow economist Douglas Almond did research and found that there was “There is some evidence of sex selection among U.S. immigrant parents.”

Edlund said she thought the Arizona law made sense. “Our society does not think it’s OK to abort based on sex,” Edlund told ABC News.

Balch noted that one of the local Planned Parenthood opposed the legislation. “This type of bill exposes how insidious abortion is—that people would use abortion in a eugenic manner.”

An unfortunate setback in Arkansas. The 20-member House Public Health Committee defeated a law to require the state’s lone abortion clinic to meet more protective regulations. The 11-9 vote came after opponents said “the changes could be made by the Department of Human Services rather through legislation,” according to the Associated Press.

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