Month Archives: April 2011

State of Abortion Clinic Regulations in the States

by Brianna Walden

April 6, 2011

Ambulatory Surgical Centers exist in all 50 states across the US. They are health care facilities that perform surgical procedures not requiring overnight hospitalization. They can also be known as outpatient facilities, performing pain management, diagnostic, and other minor surgical procedures. Under this definition it makes sense that an abortion facility would fall under the category of an Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) and should thus be regulated as one, however, prior to the 2011 legislative session only one state, Missouri, defined and regulated their abortion clinics as Ambulatory Surgical Centers. This lack of regulation of a procedure that has been documented to pose health risks to women is a dangerous oversight which needs correcting.

Fortunately, we are now starting to see this course-correction happening across the states. Since the horrific discovery of Kermit Gosnells House of Horrors in Philadelphia which facilitated the death of at least seven infants after they were born alive and two women, there has been a push in many state legislatures to further regulate abortion clinics.

In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell recently signed legislation that causes abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals and instructs the Department of Health to create specific regulations to that end. The language for those regulations has yet to be finalized.

Delaware, also home to clinics where Kermit Gosnell performed his gruesome abortions, recently passed legislation through the House of Representatives (HB 47) that would further regulate abortion clinics (thought they are not mentioned by name).

In Arkansas a bill requiring clinics that perform ten or more surgical or chemical abortions a month to be licensed with the Department of Health (HB 1855) has been sent to the governors desk. Other measures regulating abortion clinics are also moving through the AR legislature.

The Illinois House voted yesterday on an amendment to a bill (HB 2093) that would require child abuse to be reported by more workers in centers that provide reproductive health care than currently required. Planned Parenthood and other organizations are opposing this bill, as well as another bill, HB 3156, that regulates abortion clinics as Ambulatory Surgical Centers.

Other state efforts to further regulate abortion clinics or define them as Ambulatory Surgical Centers can be seen in the second figure below and their corresponding state bill numbers can be referenced as well.

Gosnells House of Horrors is by no means the only place where deaths and other tragic abortion abuses have occurred. Amazingly, despite the publicity following Kermit Gosnell, abortion giant Planned Parenthood continues to lobby against such regulations just as they did against similar regulations that were designed in Pennsylvania to stop butchers like Gosnell.

Note: Information for the above map was gained from Americans United for Life.

IA (SF 40), IL (HB 3156), KS (HB 2337 and SB 165), KY (SB47), MD (HB 23 and SB 505), OK (HB 1548), OR (SB 901), PA (HB574) and TN (HB 956 and SB 47)

AZ (SB 1390), IN (HB 1204 and SB 328), OK (HB1642) and TX (HB 2787)

DE (HB 47), IN (HB 1474), MD (HB 18, HB 19, HB 20, HB 187, and HB 746), MI (HB 150, HB 4119, HB 4120, SB 54 and SB 55), MO (HB 483), ND (HB 1297), NM (SB 225), OK (HB 1970), TN (HB 435 and SB 642) and TX (HB 2555 and HB 3446)

On Sir Martin Rees, Scientific Speculation, and Confident Faith

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 6, 2011

Sir Martin Rees, member of the House of Lords, brilliant astrophysicist, and Master of Trinity College at Cambridge don —- has won the prestigious Templeton Prize. The Prize was established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, investor and philanthropist, to recognize “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming lifes spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.” At $1 million pounds ($1.6 million), the award carries substantial financial reward but, much more, the prestige of one of science’s top honors.

Sir Martin’s work in achievements in the field of science are indisputable. His mind ventures into arenas of thought most of us remain unaware exist: They include “High energy astrophysics —- especially gamma ray bursts, galactic nuclei, black hole formation and radiative processes (including gravitational waves) … Cosmic structure formation —- especially the early generation of stars and galaxies that formed at high redshifts at the end of the cosmic ‘dark age’.”

Sir Martin’s comments on faith, however, merit consideration. In an interview with RealClearReligion, he said, “I don’t have any religious beliefs but I’m not allergic to religion. I participate in the religious services of the Church of England, which is the culture in which I grew up. I’m an analogue to the substantial fraction of Jews who don’t believe in God but still practice some of the traditional rituals. The liturgy and music of the English Church are part of my culture that I value and would like to see preserved.”

In other words, he does not believe the words he speaks regarding God, Christ, sin, salvation, etc., but he says them because of a certain cultural reassurance they bring him.

Using this logic, one could read from The Federal Register in muffled tones or hear it sung in plainsong and have just as much of a spiritual experience as reading the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church.

Sir Martin’s understanding that traditional faith is jettisoned only at the cost, ultimately, of cultural erosion is correct. But that is only true if the faith itself has inherent meaning. If it is arbitrary, then what he is advocating is merely a self-deceptive and intellectually dishonest form of social therapy.

Christianity makes truth-claims, among them that the God of the Bible is real and eternal; that Jesus of Nazareth was fully human and fully God, willingly bore the sins of a fallen humanity on the cross, rose bodily from the grave, and is alive today. These claims are even more stunning than Sir Martin’s that there might by myriad universes or his comments about “black holes in galactic centers.”

Put simply: If he can believe that “the universe exists because we are aware of it” —- but, Sir Martin, if no one sees me, do I not exist? —- I can believe, with a confident mind, in the witness of history and the assurance of faith that Jesus is Lord. And I do.

Pell Grants: Another Fiscal Disaster Unfolding

by Chris Gacek

April 5, 2011

Today, the Washington Times carried a story by Ben Wolfgang on the Pell Grant financial crisis facing the Congress. Congressional Democrats like Senator Tom Harkin will oppose any cuts. Even the Obama Administration realizes that big reductions in the program have to be made. Here is how bad things are:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan last month projected the program, designed to help low-income students afford college, could face a $20 billion shortfall in 2012, another in a recent run of annual deficits that has been been masked in past years.

President Obamas 2009 stimulus plan, for example, funneled $15.6 million into Pell Grants. A bill last year to rework the administrations health-care plan dumped in $13.5 billion, but the program still had a[n] $8.6 billion shortfall, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The administration wants $41.2 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget to keep Pell Grants at a $5,550 maximum per student. House Republicans voted to slash that to $4,015 per student as part of House Resolution 1, a 2011 spending plan voted down in the Senate last month.

Sen. Michael Enzi (ranking member on HELP Comm.) and Rep. Virginia Fox (chairman, education subcommittee on higher ed) have stated that the program has to change considerably, and they seem willing to fight on this.

A final point made in the article comes from Heritages Lindsey Burke: the cost of college tuition since 1980 has skyrocketed 439%, while Pell Grant funding has increased 480%. It doesnt seem completely clear that the Pell Grants are not driving tuition increases. In that case, increases in grant spending contribute to the college debt crisis for those under 40 and should be opposed even more rigorously.

DoMA Case Put on Hold until Further Notice by First Circuit

by Chris Gacek

April 4, 2011

It has not received much attention or perhaps I just missed it but the First Circuit issued the following order in the DoMA cases on March 30th:

These cases will be held in abeyance until further order of this court.

The government has represented to the court that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has informed the Executive Branch of its intention to participate in these consolidated cases to defend the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. To date, that Group has not filed an appearance or otherwise sought to participate in these cases. Until such action is taken, if it be taken, the present view of the court is that it would be premature to set schedules for any filings by that group. Rather, we direct the Executive Branch, by the government, to file a status report by June 1, 2011. That status report should address: (1) whether and, if so, when the Attorney General submitted a report to both houses of Congress, under 28 U.S.C. 530D(a)(2); (2) what action, if any, has been taken by the required recipients in response to any such report; and (3) any information as to the timing of proposed submissions to the court on behalf of the Congress or either house thereof.

The Clerk is directed to send copies of this order to the Speaker, Minority Leader, and General Counsel of the United States House of Representatives.

It is reassuring that the Court of Appeals is being so solicitous of possible action by the House of Representatives. In contrast with the Dep’t of Justice, at least this court believes in having both sides of the case presented.

What the Founders Really Did on Religious Liberty

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 4, 2011

The religious views of America’s Founders were not segmented into a discrete compartment, segregated away from their political views. Rather, the faith of Fathers infused their understanding of government, the public good, and way in which they believed men and women could most productively live alongside one another in a free but ordered society.

Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, who has spoken eloquently at FRC about the Founders and religious liberty, said recently that the American founders looked to the role of religion … and morality informed by religious values to provide an internal moral compass that would prompt the citizen to behave in an orderly, disciplined fashion. This is an idea that is replete in the political literature of the American founding. It is said over and over and over again.”

Religious liberty is rich ground out of which all our other liberties grow. As FRC Senior Fellow Bob Morrison writes in his new booklet “What the Founders Really Did on Religious Liberty: ‘Deeds not Words,’”

The Founders of our country considered religious liberty our ‘first freedom.’ In their view, it was the bedrock upon which all other freedoms rest. Why? They understood that ones right to worship God and follow his conscience according to the principles of his religious faith was foundational to all morality. A man whose religious faith was repressed could never be a loyal citizen, since the state was usurping his first allegiance and costing him his primary, or first, freedom.

Samuel Adams wrote in his Rights of the Colonists in 1772, The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave. If we do not acknowledge that God is the author of our liberty —- an inherently religious assertion, stated clearly in the Declaration of Independence —- then liberties of all kinds are merely trinkets of the state.

So, at a time when religion in public life is under attack by those who would scrub our government and public institutions of all vestiges of our Judeo-Christian heritage, it is imperative for conservatives to stand for religious liberty as the foundation of our laws and our nation itself. Bob Morrisons new booklet is a great place to start.

State of the States: Indiana

by Brianna Walden

April 4, 2011

Indiana is one of twelve states that define marriage as between one man and one woman in their statutes, but not in their constitution. Many proponents of traditional marriage are hopeful that this will soon change as HJR 6, a constitutional marriage protection amendment, has now successfully passed both the House and Senate. Before its addition to the Indiana Constitution however, it will need to pass next years legislative body as well, and then be approved by the voters. Still, successful passage of this first step is definitely something to be celebrated by those desiring to protect a rightful definition of marriage, one of the most foundational institutions of society. Further emphasizing the sacred bonds of marriage, SB 119 defines a Covenant Marriage and provides legal grounds for male and female couples to declare their marriage a Covenant Marriage.

There are many bills this session that regulate or restrict abortion, including several bills that address its funding. House Bill 1210 covers everything from restricting abortion based on an unborn childs ability to feel pain, to requiring physicians to inform women of the potential risks involved in an abortion and requiring the physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, to providing funding to health care providers who offer breast cancer screening, to details about fetal development materials which must be placed on the state departments website. It recently passed the house with a vote of 72 to 23, and is now in the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services.

Other bills concerning abortion include:

HB 1204 - Requires an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

HB 1205 - Prohibits the state from funding abortion or entities that perform abortions.

HB 1228 and SB 488 - Ensures conscience protection for health care workers.

HB 1258 - Establishes requirements for the prescription of an abortion drug.

HB1474 - Requires abortion clinics to file terminated pregnancy forms and specifies the content of those forms.

SB 20 - Prohibits the state from entering into a contract with or making grants to Planned Parenthood and cancels any current state funding.

SB 50 - Requires a woman to view an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion.

SB 116 - Prohibits health insurance plans established under Obamacare from providing coverage of abortion.

SB 241 - Prohibits insurance coverage of elective abortion unless it is through a separate rider.

SB 328 and SB 457 - Specifies what information should be given a woman in order for her to make an informed consent to an abortion.

SB 522 - Prohibits abortion after 20 weeks based on the unborn childs capacity to feel pain.

And finally, SB 290 which makes it illegal to perform an abortion at any stage in the pregnancy except to save the life of the woman.

Also sitting in committee is a Bias Crimes bill (HB 1332) which would allow the perpetrator of a crime to receive a harsher sentence if it was determined that the victim was acted upon because of his or her gender identity or sexual orientation. These types of bills are dangerous because they seek to legalize the punishment of thoughts and motives in addition to criminal actions.

All bills can be accessed by clicking on their number. For a complete list of legislation FRC is tracking or to check the status of these bills click here for our legislative tracker.

FRC Praises U.S. Supreme Court for Upholding Parents’ Rights, Religious Liberty in Education

by FRC Media Office

April 4, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2011

CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Darin Miller, (866) FRC-NEWS or (866)-372-6397

Family Research Council Praises U.S. Supreme Court for Upholding Parents’ Rights, Religious Liberty in Education

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Family Research Council praised today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court dismissing a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s provision of tax credits for contributions to private-schools - even religious schools. The 5-4 decision held that opponents of the 14-year-old program lacked legal “standing” to challenge the program as taxpayers objecting to a government spending program.

This decision protects the religious liberty of all Americans by restricting attacks on tuition tax credit programs that claim they unconstitutionally promote religion. The Court’s holding also advances parental rights in educational choice.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments on the decision:

Today’s decision shows that private citizens who voluntarily use their own money to send their children to religious schools should not experience discrimination in the tax code,” Perkins said. “Parents should have the primary role in choosing where their children are educated, and who educates them. Arizona ‘s 14-year-old tax credit has supported parents who chose to send their children to a private or religious school, or support other students who were attending such schools.

Choice in education is a matter of personal decision-making for parents. Allowing parents to claim a tax credit for supporting educational choice is not a joining of church and state. Rather, it respects the rights of the people to make their own choices in education, and defends the religious liberty of the American people.

Since the late 1960s, opponents of religious liberty have challenged government programs that spend money supporting organizations with religious components. If the government isn’t spending money, but instead simply allowing individuals to claim a tax benefit if they support a scholarship program for private schools, then there is no harm done to groups like the ACLU and opponents of religious liberty and school choice.

FRC applauds the work of its allies the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel and the American Association of Christian Schools. We also thank U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), whose 1995 authorship of the Arizona Scholarship Tax Credit legislation while serving in the Arizona legislature set the groundwork for today’s historic ruling.”

Click here to read Family Research Council’s recent pamphlet on educational choice: http://www.frc.org/brochure/who-should-decide-how-children-are-educated

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Growing Human Hearts in the Lab?

by David Prentice

April 4, 2011

Scientists report that they are trying to grow live human hearts in the laboratory. Dr. Doris Taylor of the University of Minnesota presented her team’s latest work at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology over the weekend. The team took human cadaveric hearts and removed all of the cells using a detergent solution, leaving behind the extracellular matrix or scaffold, composed primarily of collagen protein. Then they added adult stem cells from human patients; the adult stem cells bound to the heart protein scaffold and began to form cardiac cells, essentially growing heart muscle on the protein scaffold within a lab bioreactor.

According to Dr. Taylor:

The hearts are growing, and we hope they will show signs of beating within the next weeks. There are many hurdles to overcome to generate a fully functioning heart, but my prediction is that it may one day be possible to grow entire organs for transplant.”

Taylors team has previously shown the possibility of this procedure by creating beating rat hearts in the lab. The work was published in 2008 in the journal Nature Medicine, including video of the beating re-built heart.

Using a patient’s own adult stem cells prevents problems of transplant rejection. The method of “seeding” a de-cellularized protein matrix to re-grow an organ has been used by others as well, including Dr. Paolo Macchiarini and colleagues, who have successfully grown and transplanted new windpipes for several patients.

Other researchers have shown success using a patient’s own adult stem cells to treat and even reverse heart damage.

On Marylands Eastern Shore Plow Days

by Robert Morrison

April 4, 2011

Its been a dreary winter here. Visiting our son on Marylands Eastern Shore, where he recently graduated from Salisbury University, weve traveled through gray and frozen farmlands. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, the Eastern Shore is flat, interrupted only occasionally by rivers and inlets. But when spring comes, the farms come alive again. This weekend, we visited the Mount Hermon Plow Days. Driving to Salisbury, we passed through emerald fields that reminded my wife and me of the western part of Ireland.

Spring plowing is an ancient ritual in farm country, but what makes this event unusual is that its still done with horse- and mule teams. With the notable exception of Amish country, American farms were long ago mechanized. I asked farmer Gaylon Adkins about this. It was Gaylons farm that was the location for Plow Days. He joked, saying if diesel fuel goes much higherits at an historic peakmore American farms may have to resort to mules. A bale of hay is still a lot cheaper than a diesel at $4 a gallon.

Weather for this farmeras for all farmerswas the biggest concern this Saturday. This was the fifth annual Plow Days event. Only once, at the first one, Gaylon tells me, did they have to postpone. There were snow flurries earlier in the week. And cold rain was predicted. Happily, all that held off for this years Plow Days and the sun even peeked through scudding clouds. Perfect weather, actually, for plowing.

The event opened with a prayer from Rev. Carlo Leto, of the local Salisbury Baptist Temple. Participants and nearly a thousand attendees applauded The Star-Spangled Banner, Marylands gift to the nation, soon to be two hundred years old. And all pledged allegiance to the flag. Plow Days President Oren Perdue introduced organizers and special guests

If you can judge by the ball caps worn by young men and old, its a pretty patriotic crowd. Retired Navy and Army hats, NRA hats. Lots of Plow Days hats. There was even one International Ice Patrol hat (mine). My wife, a retired Navy captain, got a chance to share experiences with a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer as we sat at a picnic table enjoying oyster fritters, a specialty of the Eastern Shore.

Vendors celebrated farm country lore. Whats that, I heard someone ask, pointing to a pile of rust-colored stuff. It was sheeps wool, with a young farm girl skillfully working a spinning wheel turning the pile into yarn.

At one booth, a church-run summer camp invited signups and offered this unusual message: Large families welcomed. Any parents with more than four children could have their fifth, sixth, and other children attend free of charge. Now, thats pro-family.

A blacksmith was working his small forge, fashioning beautiful knives from high quality steel. He was telling all who came about old processes of fashioning rims for wooden wagon wheels. I paged through the blacksmiths neatly catalogued three-ring binder, marveling at the large Bowie knives he displayed. I hope youre writing all these things down, I told him, realizing that his skills are a not-to-be-lost resource. The blacksmith carefully explained how his trade used to be divided into specialtiesincluding farriers, who worked almost exclusively shoeing horses and mules.

The children, especially, delighted in stagecoach rides and in seeing the baby goats and calves that were penned for petting. A llama named Cowboy was shown off. Our son Jim asked where Cowboys eyes were, since it seemed the llama was sporting an Elvis Costello hairdo. Cowboys owner lifted his curls to reveal surprisingly large, intelligent brown eyes. Sometimes llamas get so mad at humans, Cowboys owner said, that they spit. And when a llama spits at you, you know youve been spat on.

The horses hitched up for plowing were Belgians, with furry fetlocks. These handsome animals were rewarded for their labors by Farmers & Planters Co, which donated 25 bags of horse feed. Wicomico County Young Farmers pitched in, as well, to make the day a success.

Once upon a time in America, everyone felt close to the farm and sensed our connections with spring plowing. For four hundred years, we have been blessed with bounty in this country. For most of that time, we all understood our dependence upon the farms for our very lives. Farmers were the first ones to feel the nations distress. A full decade before the Great Depression of the 1930s, Americas farms were stricken, especially in the Dust Bowl.

Its important for us to get back to the soil, if only to visit on occasion. We need to appreciate what our countrys farmers do for all of us. And traveling through farm country is a good way to be reminded of what Martin Luther wrote long, long ago: Our Lord has written the promise of the Resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime. Nowhere is this message more keenly appreciated than in farm country.

The Social Conservative Review: March 31 Edition

by Krystle Gabele

April 1, 2011

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review for the latest news.


Dear Friends,

The seasons are changing. Here in Washington, DC, winter is slowly giving way to spring. The cherry blossoms are out and buds are appearing on the trees.

Some things — character and family, life and liberty — never change. Neither does the faithfulness of God, “the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

At FRC, we count on that faithfulness day by day, not because it means God will always give us the victories in culture or politics we wish, but because His faithful compassion and guidance mean we will have the strength to keep championing the unchanging values we believe in so deeply.

Enjoy this edition of The Social Conservative Review, and thank you for your readership.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. FRC’s dynamic lecture series continues with events celebrating Spain’s resurgent pro-life movement in the face of strong government opposition and the growing vibrancy of the Homeschooling movement. Join us in our Washington, DC building or view online.


Educational Freedom and Reform

Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

Government Reform

Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Bureaucracy

Health Care

Abstinence

Conscience Protection

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts

Homosexuality

Human Life and Bioethics

Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Cloning

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research

Women’s Health

Marriage and Family

Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Parental Rights

Media

Pornography

Internet

Religion and Public Policy

Religious Liberty

Religion in America

Secularism

International

Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

Sharia law — U.S., foreign

The Courts

Constitutional Issues

Judicial Activism

Judicial Nominations

Other News of Note

Book reviews

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