Legislation

June 2010: Legislation

Committee Seeks to Sneak 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal before Pentagon Study
Results

Showdown at the OK Capitol: Senate Overrides Gov’s Veto of Abortion Law

Abortion Foes Advance the Cause of Human Life at the State Level

Committee Seeks to Sneak 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal before Pentagon Study Results
 The Senate Armed Services Committee may vote this week to attach an amendment to the 2011 defense spending bill that would end the armed forces' "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) policy and permit homosexuals to serve openly in the military.

Attaching the repeal to the defense measure would both coerce conservative congressmen to vote for a measure that they might otherwise strongly oppose, and rush the repeal of DADT before a Department of Defense study of the effects of such a policy change was completed.

If the repeal succeeds, it would not be the first time radical homosexualist legislation has slipped through in a defense bill: in 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which had been attached to the 2010 defense authorization bill.

Despite this and many other instances in which he has shown his support for the homosexualist agenda, “gay rights” groups have continued to fault Obama for not acting more aggressively against the military ban.

"This is our ‘all hands on deck’  moment," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the homosexualist Servemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which is dedicated to repealing DADT.  "For repeal [of DADT] to succeed, it is critical that all proponents for full repeal weigh in now, including the White House."

In his January State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to repeal DADT, saying he would "work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that he agrees that DADT ought to be repealed, but has also said that he opposes any legislative action before the Department of Defense completes a study of servicemembers' reactions to a change in the policy.  The study would be completed by the end of this year.

Many homosexualist activists hope the repeal of DADT to pass before the 2010 elections, when Democrats are widely expected to lose many seats in Congress.

Such hopes are not unfounded: although the House Armed Services Committee did not attached a similar rider when passing its version of the defense spending measure last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told homosexualist groups that she will allow a floor vote on the issue if there is enough support for repeal.

At an Equality California fund-raising event on Friday, Pelosi said she was "quite certain" DADT "will be a memory come Christmas."

The Don't Ask, Don't Tell rule was instituted by President Clinton in 1993, permitting homosexuals to serve in the military by discouraging investigation into their sexual behavior.  Official military code still prohibits those who display homosexual behavior from entering the military; President Clinton's policy prevented its enforcement.

In March, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, changed policy even further so that military code was harder to enforce.

As a report by the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) explains, the new policy states that only a one-star general or admiral has sufficient authority to initiate a fact-finding inquiry involving homosexual conduct.  Such measures, says CMR, are effectively "tying the hands of subordinate commanders who are closest to the facts."

See related stories on LifeSiteNews.com:

Obama Promises 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/jan/10012805.html

Rep. Barney Frank: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to Be Repealed
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/nov/09111202.html
[By James Tillman, DC, May 24, 2010, DC, http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/may/10052407.html ]

Showdown at the OK Capitol: Senate Overrides Gov’s Veto of Abortion Law
Oklahoma lawmakers have won yet another face-off with pro-abortion Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, after the state Senate overrode the governor’s veto of an enhanced abortion statistics reporting law on Tuesday.

The stakes were riding high for pro-life advocates. The Oklahoma House of Representatives on late Monday afternoon overwhelmingly overruled Henry's third veto this year of Oklahoma pro-life legislation, by an 84–13 margin. But while the House had votes to spare to reach its two-thirds veto-proof majority, the Senate could not afford to lose one of the thirty-two members that voted for the bill in the first round, in their override attempt.

When LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) spoke with Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life, who was busy counting votes on Capitol Hill Monday morning, he mentioned that Planned Parenthood and abortion industry lobbyists were out in force, putting heavy pressure to get just one legislator to cave and switch his vote from “yes” to “no” on the veto override.

However the Senate joined the House and voted 33 – 15 to override the pro-abortion veto, actually gaining pro-life advocates one more vote.

The new law requires that abortionists fill out 37 questions reporting information on abortion procedures and medical safety protocols, and ask their clients for the reasons they are seeking abortion. The state health department would be tasked with deriving abortion statistics from the data, which could be publicly accessed through the Internet.

Lauinger told LSN that state pro-life advocates were pleased with the passage of the law, saying it would help “identify the underlying reasons why women resort to abortion.”

“Hopefully these underlying problems can be resolved and addressed in ways that do not involve the taking of an innocent human life.”

He also lauded the fact that the measure puts to the test the claim that abortion is "safe, legal, and rare" by mandating that the public have accurate data on abortion-related complications.

The law will go into effect on November 1. It is now the seventh pro-life law entered successfully into law by Oklahoma this year. An eighth measure restricting insurance companies from subsidizing elective abortions has been passed by both chambers, but the governor is likely to veto that legislation as well.

Lauinger made a point of mentioning that Oklahoma pro-lifers owed a great deal of credit to the National Right to Life Committee for this year’s legislative successes, saying that he has been in continuous contact with NRLC’s director for state-based legislation, Mary Spaulding Balch, to achieve these victories.

He said that the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has made rumblings about a legal challenge to the law, but added that he believes the law will stand up to constitutional scrutiny, especially with regards to privacy.

The measure originally was approved with a 32-11 margin

in the Senate, and a massive 88-8 margin in the House.

Gov. Henry had vetoed HB 3284, The Statistical Abortion Report Act, on Saturday saying the measure would be “forcing” women seeking abortion to submit to a “personally invasive questionnaire and posting the answers on a state website.” He contended it would further traumatize victims of rape and incest.

Many news outlets uncritically repeated the governor’s claims that the bill would women to fill out a questionnaire. However, the law actually places the burden of responsibility on abortionists to ask the list of questions, which women are free to decline to answer.

The abortion reporting provisions had been passed previously in an abortion-related omnibus bill that was later struck down by the state Supreme Court for violating the single-issue rule. That bill was then split up into a series of bills, all of which have now passed the legislature.

The two other pro-life bills vetoed by Gov Henry this year included a measure that expanded the state’s informed consent law by requiring abortionists to perform an ultrasound on a mother seeking an abortion, and to show her the screen and give a description of her unborn child at its stage of development. The other bill prohibited “wrongful birth” lawsuits, preventing doctors from facing civil liability for failing to provide information that would have led a woman to seek an abortion.
[25may2010, P. J. Smith, Oklahoma City, OK, http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/may/10052501.html ]

 

 

 

 

Abortion Foes Advance the Cause of Human Life at the State Level

Nebraska approved a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks, on the grounds of fetal pain.

At least 11 states have passed laws this year regulating or restricting abortion, giving opponents of abortion what partisans on both sides of the issue say is an unusually high number of victories. In four additional states, bills have passed at least one house of the legislature.

In a flurry of activity last week, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi signed a bill barring insurers from covering abortion in the new insurance exchanges called for under the federal health care overhaul, and the Oklahoma Legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Brad Henry of a bill requiring doctors who perform abortions to answer 38 questions about each procedure, including the women’s reasons for ending their pregnancies.

It was the third abortion measure this session on which the Legislature overrode a veto by Mr. Henry.

At least 13 other states have introduced or passed similar legislation this year. The new laws range from an Arizona ban on coverage of abortion in the state employees’ health plan to a ban in Nebraska on all abortions after 20 weeks, on the grounds that the fetus at that stage can feel pain…

“The right-to-life folks are seeing just how far they can push things,” said Joseph W. Dellapenna, a law professor at Villanova University and the author of “Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History.” Professor Dellapenna said it was “almost a certainty” that one of the laws would end up in front of the Supreme Court, where Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s views on abortion are untested, as are those of Elena Kagan, President Obama’s new court nominee.

“It could turn out they can push things a lot farther than people think,” he said. “Or, it could not.”

While opponents of abortion rights hope ultimately to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion, they have made the most impact at the state level, where laws passed in one state often appear in other legislatures in subsequent years. State laws also have the potential for national consequences by setting off court battles that challenge or limit the scope of Roe.

“Ninety percent of pro-life legislation happens at the states,” said Daniel S. McConchie, vice president for government affairs at Americans United for Life, which opposes abortion. “While Congress is the main focus of attention for so many people in the country, state legislatures have greatest impact on daily lives, and life-related legislation is no exception.”

Much of this year’s legislation arose from a 2007 United States Supreme Court decision upholding a federal ban on a late-term procedure that critics call partial-birth abortion, which gave lawmakers greater leeway to restrict abortion.

About 370 state bills regulating abortion were introduced in 2010, compared with about 350 in each of the previous five years, and 250 a year in the early 1990s, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. At least 24 of this year’s bills have passed, and the final total may reach the high of 2005, when states passed 34 laws, said Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the institute.

More significant than the number of bills introduced are the number and nature of those that passed, partisans on both sides agree.

“What’s different is that bills of serious consequence have actually passed,” said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who characterized the volume of legislation as “an avalanche.” Already the center has brought suits to challenge six laws, more than in any other year since the 1990s.

Tennessee, which had not passed restrictions on abortion since 2003, passed two laws, one banning coverage of abortion in health insurance exchanges. The other requires clinics to post signs stating it is illegal to coerce a woman to have an abortion; 11 other states introduced similar legislation.

“This is a good year as far as victories,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, who named several states, including Arizona, Missouri and Tennessee, that are now more open to restrictive laws. “I do get the impression that the climate is friendlier.”

Eighteen states passed or introduced bills requiring counseling before abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Arizona, where Janet Napolitano vetoed abortion restrictions as governor, passed four laws this year under Jan Brewer, who became governor in 2009 after Ms. Napolitano resigned to become the secretary of homeland security. The four include restrictions on coverage under health insurance exchanges, state employee insurance and Medicaid, and call for stricter reporting requirements for doctors who perform abortions.

Oklahoma passed seven laws, three over vetoes by the governor, including one requiring a woman to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before an abortion. The law requires that the ultrasound screen be visible to the woman, though she may avert her eyes. Another new law prevents parents from suing doctors for not revealing fetal abnormalities during pregnancy. An eighth measure drew the governor’s fourth veto last week; the Legislature adjourned on Friday without addressing it.

The ultrasound law “takes the burden away from the mother of having to request to see it,” Ms. Balch said. “That’s significant, because the harder you make it for the mother to view it, she’s not going to view it. Many women regret their abortions afterward, and that’s from looking later at an ultrasound.”

Opponents say the law requires an unnecessary medical procedure and takes away women’s right to make decisions for themselves [ed. ? … one needs all the facts in order to make good decisions]. A state judge suspende

d the law after a legal challenge.

Lawsuits are likely to be filed against Nebraska’s law banning abortion after 20 weeks. “That’s pretty clearly designed to mount a challenge to women’s right to choose in the second trimester,” which the Supreme Court has recognized, said Ted Miller, a spokesman for Naral Pro-Choice America, a national advocacy organization. “It’s a whole new standard.”

State Senator Mike Flood of Nebraska said he conceived the legislation after hearing public remarks by LeRoy Carhart, an abortion provider in Bellvue, Neb., who said he hoped to continue the work of George Tiller, the Kansas doctor who was murdered a year ago and who provided late-term abortions for women from all over the country.

“I was obviously troubled by his intention to perform those types of abortions,” Mr. Flood said. “My immediate thought was those should be illegal in Nebraska.”

After some research he came upon the idea of banning abortion once a fetus can feel pain, though much of the medical community says that this does not happen before the third trimester, about 28 weeks.

In Utah, after a pregnant 17-year-old paid a man $150 to beat her in an effort to induce a miscarriage, legislators passed a law that would allow a woman in such circumstances to be charged with homicide. Ms. Balch of the National Right to Life Committee said her organization did not support that law because it penalized the woman, “and we don’t support that at all.” Similar legislation was introduced in two other states.

Over all, abortions in America have been falling since 1990. In recent years, according to research by the Guttmacher Institute, they have been increasingly concentrated among poor women, whose rates have gone up even as the overall national rate has declined.
A version of this article appeared in print on June 3, 2010, on page A18 of the New York edition. [June 2, 2010, John Leland, Nati Harnik/Associated Press, Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/health/policy/03abortion.html?hp ]