News clips from around the country

Arizona first to officially opt out of abortion coverage in health care

EP News – Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill into law in April making Arizona the first state to opt out of the federal health care abortion mandate. The Legislature had already been working on language to keep abortion funding out of state plans. Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said lawmakers took that language and tailored it to apply to the federal mandate. “Once Obamacare passed,” she said, “we were able to get an amendment on the bill that opts Arizona out of abortion coverage in any insurance exchanges.” Brewer signed SB 1305 at a Center for Arizona Policy Family Dinner. “We had somewhere close to 40 legislators on stage as Governor Brewer did a live bill signing,” Herrod said. “It was very much a celebration.”

Supreme court considers keeping petition-signers’ names private

EP News – The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in April over the privacy of Washington state voters who signed a petition last year–Referendum 71–to overturn the state’s “everything-but-marriage” domestic-partnership law. Gay activists and News organizations want the names and home addresses of marriage supporters to be made public. Family advocates say they are tired of being harassed for simply supporting marriage. “No person should suffer harassment for participating in our political system,” James Bopp, who represented organizers of the Protect Marriage Washington petition drive, told USA Today. Justice Samuel Alito seemed to side with Bopp. According to The Associated Press, he questioned Washington’s attorney general, Robert McKenna, on whether his office was willing to give out the home addresses of its lawyers. Justice Antonin Scalia argued on the other side. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in June.

The changing face of motherhood

EP News – A report by the Pew Research Center shows moms today are very different from moms 20 years ago. In general, mothers of newborns are older and better educated than their moms in the ’90s. However, only 59 percent of today’s moms are married when they give birth. Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said, “This is a clear result of a society that has devalued marriage in every way,” she said, “whether looking at the definition of marriage, or simply allowing for quicker, easier divorce.” She said research shows the best place for kids to be raised is in a household with a married mother and father.

Gay-Activist group challenges federal marriage law

EP News – Opening arguments are set for May 6 in a lawsuit brought by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) of New England. The suit challenges Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), claiming it is unconstitutional. Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said the case has far-reaching implications. “This is a case that suggests there is no rational reason why the government legitimately considers marriage a union of husband and wife,” she said. “If that were accepted, it would be the beginning of the end of marriage in all 50 states.” She said the government has traditionally had its own definition of marriage for a variety of purposes, including immigration and tax laws.

Presidential memo on hospital visitation stirs debate

EP News – President Obama issued a memorandum in April asking the Department of Health and Human Services to write regulations allowing hospital visits by anyone, not just legal family. Some conservatives objected, but gay activists also objected because they believe Obama hasn’t gone far enough. Charles Moran, national spokesperson for the Log Cabin Republicans, said, “We criticize the Obama Administration for piecemealing on gay rights issues instead of actually proposing any kind of solid agenda for reform.” Family advocates support the memo for the most part. One area of concern is the part that singles out homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals and directs HHS to search out “more” ways to find rights for same-sex couples.

States opt out of paying for abortion in health care

EP News – Concern over federal funding of abortion in the health care reform law has prompted several states to move toward “opting out.” Tennessee is the first state to get a bill to its governor that prohibits taxpayers from funding abortion. Lawmakers in Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia and Louisiana are all considering similar measures. Mary Harned, staff counsel with Americans United for Life, said AUL has model legislation ready for states to use, and many are taking advantage. “There are currently 15 states that are actively working toward getting this done,” she said, “and at least another 11 that we know of who are planning to do this.”

Nebraska governor signs pro-life measure

EP News – Gov. Dave Heineman signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act last week, making Nebraska the first to ban abortions after 20 weeks. LB 1103 asserts that pre-born children experience pain during an abortion. Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said research has shown that at 20 weeks, pre-borns have all the receptors necessary to feel pain. “Doctors who do routine surgery on unborn children now use anesthesia to make sure those unborn children do not feel pain,” she said. She expects the law will be challenged and may even make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. “It will be the first time that the U.S. Supreme Court has been presented with the question of whether or not a state has a compelling interest in protecting the pain-capable unborn child.” The law goes into effect Oct. 15, 2010. 

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