Author archives: Ian Frith

When Campuses Become Battlefields: Protecting Free Speech in a Hostile Environment

by Ian Frith

June 29, 2017

College campuses have become increasingly hostile grounds for political discourse. Citing safety concerns, student groups all over the country have seen their events cancelled by university administrators worried about violence on college campuses. Speakers who have managed to appear on campuses have found themselves harassed by student protestors, and have even faced violence by opposition groups. Take for example, Charles Murray’s attempt to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont. Not only was Murray shouted down with profanity by an enraged progressive student body, but Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger was physically assaulted for accompanying Murray on campus.

This disturbing trend has drawn national attention, and prompted a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, June 20th, the committee met to discuss the volatile environment on college campuses in relation to the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The committee heard from seven witnesses including two students who alleged free speech violations on their campuses, several college professors and administrators who have dealt with controversial events on their campuses, and two lawyers associated with First Amendment and hate speech issues. One of these lawyers was Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Cohen has been criticized for SPLC’s labeling of their political opponents as “hate groups,” a designation various progressive groups on college campuses have exploited to justify threatening the free speech of conservatives.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) opened the hearing by citing several particularly grievous violations of freedom of speech, including students who were arrested at Kellogg College for distributing the Constitution outside of the designated “free speech zone.” These outrageous actions were condemned by both Republican and Democratic senators alike. The First Amendment does not exist merely to defend opinions that everyone agrees with, it also protects those opinions which are controversial or offensive. Unfortunately, many on the Left only associate hate speech with conservative groups, and ignore hate speech by progressives. Senator Ted Cruz had it right when he said, “truth is far more powerful than force… if your ideas are right there is no need to muzzle the opposition.” College campuses ought to protect speech, because in doing so they’ll help further thoughtful debate.

A highlight of the hearing was the testimony of Zachary Wood, a student at Williams College and president of the organization Uncomfortable Learning. Although he identifies himself as a progressive liberal, Mr. Wood deliberately sought out conservative speakers to invite them to speak because he wanted to start a dialogue on campus. Wood eloquently defended campus free speech when he said “humanity is not limited to the views and values we admire, it also encompasses the views and values that we resist.” One controversial speaker invited by Wood was conservative commentator John Derbyshire. Predictably, the invitation caused a severe backlash and resulted in the president of the university unilaterally cancelling Derbyshire’s speech. The administration then immediately imposed new regulations for students who wished to invite speakers to campus.                                                                     

Several of the school administrators testified that they have had to deal with violent opposition groups on their campus. UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh stated that groups who are trying to force a “heckler’s veto” must be strongly reprimanded. “Behavior that is rewarded is repeated… these thugs have to learn that their behavior is not acceptable.” While college administrators appearing before the committee were generally in favor of protected free speech, some did acknowledge that there are challenges in striking a balance between campus safety and free speech. Dr. Fanta Aw of American University stated that “freedom of expression is integral to the mission of higher education, however protecting it has become increasingly difficult due to our national climate, as well as changing views by younger students regarding the First Amendment.” With an increasingly polarized political climate, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. It is essential that these universities and administrators continue protect speech on their campuses.

Not all the senators were as adamant about the defense of free speech. Citing a lack of resources on the part of the Berkeley police department, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) redirected the conversation towards the nature of the violent protestors involved, and away from First Amendment issues. Senator Feinstein’s attempt to pit public safety against free speech are misguided at best, and deceptive at worst. While it is important that college campuses remain safe environments for learning, safety must not be bought at the price of silencing minority views on campus.  Richard Cohen of the SPLC went one step further, blaming much of the atmosphere on college campuses on the national climate post-election, and specifically the actions of the “alt-right” and white nationalism. He also defended an SPLC publication entitled The Battle for Berkeley, which claimed that “in the name of free speech, the alt-right is assaulting the ivory tower.” Attacks on free speech should not be partisan, but Cohen ignored many groups on the Left who have also been responsible for inciting violence both on college campuses and elsewhere. In fact, SPLC’s labeling of conservative organizations as “hate groups” has been connected to violence against conservative groups, including the 2012 FRC shooting by Floyd Lee Corkins II (who cited SPLC’s designation of Family Research Council as a “hate group”), and the most recent shooting in Alexandria involving GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise.                       

Near the conclusion of the hearing, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) condemned the President of Williams’ College Adam Falk. Senator Kennedy admonished Falk for treating progressive liberal campus groups and speakers differently than conservative groups and speakers, and called that sort of favoritism “intellectually dishonest.” Mr. Fredrick Lawrence also defended the role of universities hosting controversial speakers saying “[There should always] be a strong presumption in favor of the speech.” He emphasized that limits should be established only based on the intent of the speaker, never the substance or the content. This is an excellent standard that is well established in public policy.   

Despite differing priorities regarding the protection of free speech on college campuses, it was encouraging to see a measure of bipartisanship in support of free speech at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. As a millennial college student, I am glad that there is a concerted effort in Congress to protect my right to free speech. While I was disappointed in the attempts of Senator Feinstein and Richard Cohen to shift blame, I am confident free speech on college campuses proved more persuasive. The right of free speech is a cornerstone in our society, and it must be protected if we are to continue to have meaningful discussion about other policy issues.

Another Casualty of the War On Women

by Ian Frith

August 1, 2012

Pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood would like you to think they are fighting for women by opposing draconian measures promoted by republicans against womens health. In actuality, the cause for which they go to war is not womens health, but the expanse of abortion, and unfortunately women themselves are often the casualties in that war.

On July 20th, 2012, Tonya Reaves family joined a growing number of people grieving over the loss of a beloved daughter, mother, or sister to a failed abortion procedure. In reports on Tonya, who died from abortion complications in Chicago, Illinois, the number often promulgated regarding the percentage of abortions that result in the womans death is less than 0.3%. But as Tonyas family knows, she is so much more than a statistic, a less than one percent. And so are the other 450+ women who have died as a result of abortion since Roe v. Wade (Center for Disease Control and Prevention Report, pg 36).

It is to the families of those 0.3% that Planned Parenthood offers their condolences, while at the same time opposing state legislatures attempts to offer real solutions to the shocking lack of regulation of the abortion industry.

Few Americans realize how de-regulated abortion clinics are across the country. Prior to 2011, Missouri was the only state in the nation that regulated its abortion clinics as it regulated other outpatient surgical facilities, the intuitive definition of an abortion clinic. Fewer still realize that Illinois had a one-page bill in 2011 (HB3156) that would do just that: define abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical facilities and regulate them thereby. Unfortunately, this simple bill designed to protect women was aggressively opposed by Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion lobby, and it died in the Illinois House of Representatives by a close vote.

Just over a year later something else died in Illinois, but this time it was a mother and her child.

One cannot be certain that the increased oversight found in HB 3156 would have prevented Tonya Reavess death. But how many more women must die before we stand up to the abortion industry and demand their compliance with life-saving regulations rather than placidly accept their condolences for avoidable deaths?

While Planned Parenthood and the left loudly accuse pro-life conservatives of waging a war on women, they quietly pull the trigger on legislation designed expressly for womens safety.

Michigan is currently considering a bill (HB5711) which includes the same provision in Illinois bill defining abortion clinics that perform six or more abortions a month as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities for the purpose of health regulations. The Department of Health is given the authority to develop specific regulations. Michigans HB 5711 is not an attack on women. To the contrary, in addition to bringing abortion clinics up to the health standard of other outpatient facilities it establishes safe-guards to prevent coercion, requires the posting of domestic abuse and human trafficking hotlines, requires physicians to examine women in person outlawing skype abortions, and ensures womens rights in malpractice suits. This bill is overwhelmingly pro-women, yet Planned Parenthood opposes it.

They oppose it like they opposed a similar bill passed in Pennsylvania, and are opposing the clinic regulations currently moving through Virginia. They try to paint them as unnecessary and point to one ridiculous requirement that hallways be widened to accommodate emergency paramedics stretchers while ignoring the evidence that narrow hallways have contributed to at least one womans death. The grand jury report addressing the death of Karnamaya Mongar, who died in Kermit Gosnells abortion clinic in 2009, said it took paramedics 20 minutes to remove the patient from the clinic due to cluttered hallways.

Planned Parenthood opposes the Michigan bill like they opposed the one in Illinois. Lets hope Michigan legislators stand up to Planned Parenthood and defend women so that Michigan does not have to morn their own Tonya Reaves in the future. Its time to call the war on women what it really is, a war to advance abortion in which real women, not a faceless 0.3%, are the casualties.

Abortion: the Modern Day Slave Master?

by Ian Frith

June 26, 2012

I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper. So spoke Abraham Lincoln as he signed the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago this year. At the close of the Civil War a few years after the proclamation was issued, slavery was abolished on American soil.

But the story of the slave does not end there.

Now, 150 years of remarkable technological development later, human trafficking, often called modern day slavery, holds 27 million men, women, and children captive to its grasp. The U.S. State Departments 2012 Trafficking in Human Persons Report was released on June 19th at a ceremony in Washington. Dignitaries and speakers at the event included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero; and Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis C. deBaca. All three praised the improvements made in the past year in countries imposing stricter policies against human trafficking. They highlighted the human element in the numbers, reminding people that the fight to end modern day slavery is about faces, not statistics.

Both the speakers and the report acknowledge that in addition to the need to go after the perpetrators of human trafficking, much is needed in the area of support and care for the victims. According to the report:

Because this crime undermines the most basic human rights, protection services must be considered just as important as investigating and prosecuting the offenders… If governments fail to provide comprehensive protection as a complement to prevention and prosecution efforts, they risk deepening, rather than alleviating, the original harm.

Secretary Clinton also said in her remarks: …in this years report, we are especially focused on that third P, victim protection. She went on to say that fighting to end modern day slavery is a high priority for President Obama and the Obama Administration. Its something that is not just political and not just a policy, but very personal and very deep.

Unfortunately, there is a political component to the Obama Administrations fight against slavery. When it comes down to choosing to support victims of human trafficking or abortion providers, the Administration chooses abortion.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awards grant money to organizations combating human trafficking and offering support to victims. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), a five-year recipient of the funding, has an Anti-Trafficking Services Program through its Migration and Refugee Services division, which has proven highly effective for more than ten years. Despite this programs proven track record of helping people escape slavery and start a new life, when the USCCB re-applied for grant funding in 2011, the application was denied. The only explainable reason? The program fails to offer victims sterilization, contraception, and abortion. In their own words:

We believe despite submission of a proposal that built off the success of our prior work and offered value-added elements based on observed trends and quality improvement strategies, we were not granted a new award based solely on the issue of our willingness to pay for abortion or contraception, or make referrals for certain reproductive health services.

The Obama Administration would sooner spurn an organization rescuing lives out of slavery then deny those ending life the opportunity for more clients. Not only does this blatantly communicate to the victims of trafficking that their support comes second to that of abortion providers, but it completely disregards the important fact that abortion clinics frequently side with the trafficker, pimp, and sex abuser against the victim.

Especially in the developing world, but also here in the U.S.for the pimp running a brothel, pregnancies mean money lost and must be dealt with through abortion so the girl can get back to work. This equates to steady customers for the neighborhood abortion clinic, many of which have been documented not only to cover up the crimes against these sex slaves, but even to advise the abuser how to run his business. Last year, FRC explored in greater depth the connection between abortion providers to human trafficking here in the US in a webcast (viewable here). The results were shocking. Victims of modern day slavery are in need of real support not found in abortion clinics.

The problem of human trafficking is not limited to poor countries or the urban areas of the developing world. It happens here at home, as well. In light of that, many state governments have taken steps to fight human trafficking and support victims at the local level. At least 68 bills combating human trafficking have been introduced in 26 states this year. Fourteen of those have already passed into law and three more are awaiting governors signatures. One of those three is Ohios HB262. It is a broad-scale bill encompassing increased penalties for human traffickers, greater education for officers and those at risk for trafficking, and increased support measures for victims of human trafficking. The bill passed the legislature on June 20th and is awaiting action by Buckeye state Governor Kasich.

Our country should continue to take action to help victims of modern day slavery by engaging in the legislative process, supporting involved ministries, working internationally through State Department advocacy and diplomacy, and certainly through our prayers. We must not allow abortion to be the modern day slave master.

 

State of Public Opinion on Pro-Life Laws

by Ian Frith

July 25, 2011

One of highlights of the various 2011 state legislative sessions is the successful passage of many solid pro-life bills. According to a recent report by Guttmacher, 80 bills restricting abortion were passed in 19 states, more than tripling the 23 passed last year. This impressive number not only sets a record for the most life-affirming bills passed in one year, but it also more than doubles the previous record of 34 bills in 2005.

Some abortion advocates suggest that this is an example of legislators with extreme right-wing social ideologies pushing their agenda on the people in their state who likely do not agree with them on these issues. They even go so far as to assert that there has been an all out attack on women by these state legislators.

Now, thanks to Gallup poll data released today, we can check those assertions. Are these pro-life legislators out of touch or do they reflect the feelings of the majority of Americans? Are women feeling attacked and fighting back, or do they support and advocate bills that require their doctor to fully inform them of potential abortion risks, show them an ultrasound, and get parental consent for minors to receive an abortion?

Gallup says:

Of seven abortion restrictions tested in a July 15-17Galluppoll, informing women of certain risks of an abortion in advance of performing it is the most widely favored, at 87%. Seven in 10 Americans favor requiring parental consent for minors and establishing a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions. Nearly two-thirds favor making the specific procedure known as “partial birth abortion” illegal

 

Data from this poll also affirms a striking consistency in polling data that abortion is not a man verses woman issue, with men pushing pro-life views on women who just want to make choices with their pregnancies. To the contrary, four out of seven pro-life measures addressed in this poll scored a higher percentage of support among women than men!

 

Polling Chart

Read the Poll results in their entirety for yourself here.

2011 State Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood

by Ian Frith

June 23, 2011

Yesterday New Hampshire joined the growing number of states seeking to defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood. The trend seemed to start last year when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie passed a budget which eliminated about 7.5 million dollars worth of family planning funding.

As reported by Kevin Smith, the Executive Director of Cornerstone, the Granite states leading family policy organization:

This has truly been a banner day for the babies here in the Granite State… in a completely unexpected and under the radar move today, the NH Executive Council (which is like our lieutenant Governor, but it’s made up of 5 elected officials from across the state), which along with the Governor has to approve all state contracts above $2499 (yes, you read the correct) voted to REJECT the state contract for Planned Parenthood worth $1.8 million over the next two years!! This is simply amazing news! The vote was 3-2 and it is the first time that a state contract with PP has ever been rejected!”

The story can be found here.

Here is a list (with the legislation in question as well as the state organizations that led the way) of some of the successful efforts this year, as well as three valiant efforts that did not pass.

Successful Efforts (IN, KS, NH, NC, TX, TNWI):

INDIANA

Family policy organization: Indiana Family Institute

Leading the cause to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, Indiana passed a monumental piece of legislation, HB1210, earlier this year. It has subsequently been challenged in court and U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt is expected to make a ruling by July 1st whether to grant injunction while the court case continues.

The actual text in question can be read below:

An agency of the state may not:

(1) enter into a contract with; or

(2) make a grant to; any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed that involves the expenditure of state funds or federal funds administered by the state.

(c) Any appropriation by the state:

(1) in a budget bill;

(2) under IC 5-19-1-3.5; or

(3) in any other law of the state;

to pay for a contract with or grant made to any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed is canceled, and the money appropriated is not available for payment of any contract with or grant made to the entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.

(d) For any contract with or grant made to an entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed covered under subsection (b), the budget agency shall make a determination that funds are not available, and the contract or grant shall be terminated under section 5 of this chapter.”

Full text of the bill can be found here.

KANSAS

Family policy organization: Kansas Family Policy Council

In contrast to the legislative method of Indiana, Kansas effectively defunded Planned Parenthood through their state budget. This was accomplished by prioritizing the means of distributing family planning funds: first to public entities and secondly to private entities which provided comprehensive health care in addition to family planning services (something which Planned Parenthood is not equipped to do). The new budget strips about $334,000 in federal Title X funding for the organization, according to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Relevant text can be read below:

Senate substitute for HB2014 Sec. 57:

(a) During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, subject to any applicable requirements of federal statutes, rules, regulations or guidelines, any expenditures or grants of money by any state agency for family planning services financed in whole or in part from federal title X moneys shall be made subject to the following two priorities: First priority to public entities (state, county, local health departments and health clinics) and if any moneys remain then; second priority to non-public entities which are hospitals or federally qualified health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care in addition to family planning services.

(page 85) (l)

During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, subject to any applicable requirements of federal statutes, rules, regulations or guidelines, any expenditures or grants of money by the department of health and environment—division of health for family planning services financed in whole or in part from federal title X moneys shall be made subject to the following

two priorities: First priority to public entities (state, county, local health departments and health clinics) and, if any moneys remain, then, Second priority to non-public entities which are hospitals or federally qualified health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care in addition to family planning services: Provided, That, as used in this sub-

section “hospitals” shall have the same meaning as defined in K.S.A. 65-425, and amendments thereto, and “federally qualified health center” shall have the same meaning as defined in K.S.A. 65-1669, and amendments thereto.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Family policy organization: Cornerstone Action

The Executive Council, a body of five elected councilors, is responsible for approving the expenditure of state and federal funds within New Hampshire. They work with ther Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and the Attorney General to manage the business of the state. On Wednesday, June 22nd, the Council voted 3 -2 against funding a contract in the amount of 1.8 million dollars with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

According to Union Leader.com, Councilor Dan St. Hilaire said the Planned Parenthood contract “differed (from other health provider contracts) in that the organization directly provides abortions, it’s CEO earns in excess of $250,000 a year, and most of its services and administration are located out of state in Williston, Vt.”

For more information about the Executive Council go here

NORTH CAROLINA

Family policy organization: North Carolina Family Policy Council

Similar to Kansas, the North Carolina legislature successfully voted to defund Planned Parenthood through their budget, overriding the governors veto. According to a Reuters article, Planned Parenthood said it received just over $434,000 a year through state grants and programs, about 4 percent of the group’s budget for operating nine health centers in North Carolina. The funding for Planned Parenthoods participation in public health programs will end on July 1.

Find out more information here.

The actual bill text states:

PROHIBIT USE OF ALL FUNDS FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD ORGANIZATIONS

SECTION 10.19. For fiscal years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, the Department of Health and Human Services may not provide State funds or other funds administered by the Department for contracts or grants to Planned Parenthood, Inc., and affiliated organizations.

TENNESSEE

Family policy organization: Family Action Council of Tennessee

The path to defund Planned Parenthood in TN was long and not without mishaps. Initially legislators sought to defund through an amendment to the budget (Section 78) which read that funds allocated for womens health services shall be used fully by government-run health agencies and none shall be paid to third-party providers or private organizations or entities. However, at the last moment a mystery amendment was snuck in to the budget which stated: Section 78 of this act shall not be construed to supersede applicable provisions of federal and state law. Due to the complicated nature of the various provisions of law referenced, there was legal doubt over the validity of the defunding amendment.

In effort to try and reduce some of the dismay and confusion among lawmakers, the Lt Governors office released the following statement:

The confusion surrounding the language in the budget regarding Planned Parenthood has been unfortunate. The Office of Legal Services advised House and Senate leadership that it is unconstitutional to amend general law through the appropriations bill (Article II, Section 17), an interpretation which would have put the entire budget document in jeopardy. It was not our intent to allow funding for Planned Parenthood. Our majority in the General Assembly clearly meant to defund them. We are currently working with pro-life activists to resolve this issue with legislation and we will put it to rest immediately upon the legislatures return in January.

Many citizen urged Governor Haslam to use his executive power to fix the mistake in the recently passed budget. Finally, on June 11th the Lieutenant Governor, Ron Ramsey, announced that Governor Haslam had asked the State Health Department to pressure the states two largest counties, Davidson and Shelby Counties, to provide family planning services through their respective county health departments (as the other 93 counties in TN currently do) instead of contracting with Planned Parenthood and granting them state funds to provide family planning services on behalf of those two counties.

We are at long last moving towards the final stages of the Planned Parenthood shell game, said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. It has always been the ambition of Republicans in the legislature to defund this organization. I was proud to lead the charge to turn over family planning services to the county health departments effectively defunding the organization in 93 out of 95 counties. Id like to praise the Governor for working to completely turn off the spigot of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.

Read more at Examiner.com

TEXAS

Family policy organization: Liberty Institute

Texas, similar to Kansas used a funding prioritization method in their recently passed 2012-2013 budget:

The Department of State Health Services shall allocate funds appropriated above in Strategy B.1.3, Family Planning Services using a methodology that prioritizes distribution and reallocation to first award public entities that provide family planning services, including state, county, local community health clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and clinics under the Baylor College of Medicine; secondly, non-public entities that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care as a part of their family planning services; and thirdly, non-public entities that provide family planning services but do not provide comprehensive primary and preventative care.

My San Antonio reports: “Now that the dust has settled on the recently passed 2012-13 budget, the state’s family planning money now hovers at $38 million $73 million less than the $111 million allocated in the current biennium.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Another bill currently under consideration, SB 7, would further increase funding prioritization and prohibit public hospitals and facilities who receive public funds from performing abortions.

WISCONSIN

Family policy organization: Wisconsin Family Council

According to a Huffpost Politics article, Governor Scott Walker (R) is expected to sign a budget bill that eliminates state and federal funding from nine of the state’s Planned Parenthood health centers. It directs federal Title V family planning dollars to public health agencies and prohibits them from giving the funds to organizations or its affiliates that provide abortions or abortion referrals.

The article states the new budget would eliminate $1 million a year in funding for nine of Wisconsin’s 25 Planned Parenthood clinics.

Unsuccessful Efforts (MN, MT, NH ):

MINNESOTA

Family policy organization: Minnesota Family Institute

A bill (SF1224) was introduced that would have prohibited all state family planning funds from going to any organization that performs abortions or is associated with an organization that performs abortions. Unfortunately it did not pass the chamber of origin. The actual text states:

Family planning grant funds” means funds distributed through the maternal and child health block grant program under sections 145.881 to 145.883, the family planning special projects grant program under section 145.925, the program to eliminate health disparities under section 145.928, or any other state grant program whose funds are or may be used to fund family planning services.

Subd. 2. Uses of family planning grant funds. No family planning grant funds may be:

(1) expended to directly or indirectly subsidize abortion services or administrative expenses;

(2) paid or granted to an organization or an affiliate of an organization that provides abortion services, unless the affiliate is independent as provided in subdivision 4; or

(3) paid or granted to an organization that has adopted or maintains a policy in writing or through oral public statements that abortion is considered part of a continuum of family planning services, reproductive health services, or both.

Subd. 3. Organizations receiving family planning grant funds. An organization that receives family planning grant funds:

(1) may provide nondirective counseling relating to pregnancy but may not directly refer patients who seek abortion services to any organization that provides abortion services, including an independent affiliate of the organization receiving family planning grant funds. For purposes of this clause, an affiliate is independent if it satisfies the criteria in subdivision 4, paragraph (a);

(2) may not display or distribute marketing materials about abortion services to patients;

(3) may not engage in public advocacy promoting the legality or accessibility of abortion; and

(4) must be separately incorporated from any affiliated organization that provides abortion services.

Subd. 4. Independent affiliates that provide abortion services. (a) To ensure that the state does not lend its imprimatur to abortion services and to ensure that an organization that provides abortion services does not receive a direct or indirect economic or marketing benefit from family planning grant funds, an organization that receives family planning grant funds may not be affiliated with an organization that provides abortion services unless the organizations are independent from each other. To be independent, the organizations may not share any of the following:

(1) the same or a similar name;

(2) medical facilities or nonmedical facilities, including, but not limited to, business offices, treatment rooms, consultation rooms, examination rooms, and waiting rooms;

(3) expenses;

(4) employee wages or salaries; or

(5) equipment or supplies, including, but not limited to, computers, telephone systems, telecommunications equipment, and office supplies.

(b) An organization that receives family planning grant funds and that is affiliated with an organization that provides abortion services must maintain financial records that demonstrate strict compliance with this subdivision and that demonstrate that its independent affiliate that provides abortion services receives no direct or indirect economic or marketing benefit from the family planning grant funds.

MONTANA

Family policy organization: Minnesota Family Foundation

The Montana Legislature passed a two year budget rejecting federal family-planning funds in the amount of about $4.7 million.

According to an article in the Missoulian, House and Senate Republicans had also voted to remove $1 million in state funding for family planning clinics and rejected a Schweitzer administration proposal to spend another $1.2 million in state and federal funds for higher access to birth control.

The article states that Planned Parenthood, the most prominent abortion provider in Montana, receives about half of the $5.7 million in state and federal family-planning money, for use at its health clinics in Billings, Missoula, Helena and Great Falls.

Rejection of the federal money was a bold statement by lawmakers that they did not want to subsidize the abortion giant Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions with taxpayer money. Unfortunately when the budget was presented to democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, he used his amendment power to restore funding to Planned Parenthood and pressured the legislature to approve his amendments.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

NOTE: NH was ultimately successful in defunding PP through the Executive Council. The following refers to their legislative attempt.

Family policy organization: Cornerstone Action

House Bill 228 specifically named Planned Parenthood and forbid the state from entering into any grants or contracts with that organization or other abortion providers. It also forbid the use of public funds for abortions or to pay any health insurance costs for policies that cover abortions.

This section does not prohibit the state from complying with the requirements of federal law relative to Title XIX and Title XXI of the Social Security Act.

The methodology of the bill states: The Department of Health and Human Services states this bill prevents the Department from contracting with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The Department stated the current contract with Planned Parenthood is in the amount $794,370 of which $428,960 is federal Title X funds and $365,410 is state general funds. Under the contract, Planned Parenthood provides family planning services, reproductive healthcare, HIV testing, STD testing and treatment, and health education. The Department states federal law prohibits these funds from being used to fund abortions. The Department assumes that, without this contract, the federal funds would be returned to the federal government and the general funds would be returned to the general fund.

State of Health Insurance Abortion Coverage Opt-Outs

by Ian Frith

June 9, 2011

Since the passage of Obamacare, officially titled the Paitient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many states have stepped in to fill the loophole allowing taxpayer funding of abortion. They have accomplished this by passing laws prohibiting abortion coverage in health plans created through the state exchange program set up by Obamacare. Arizona was the first state to do so in April of last year followed by four other states that session. Eight more states have passed laws prohibiting abortion coverage in the 2011 session and eight additional states currently have such legislation pending. The following chart and map gives details:

State Bill Number Date Enacted/Status
Passed in 2010: Total: 5 states
Arizona AZ SB 1305 4/24/10
Tennessee TN SB 2686 5/05/10 (Democrat Gov. did not veto or sign, but allowed bill to become law without his signature.)
Mississippi MS SB 3214 5/24/10
Louisiana LA HB 1247 7/02/10
Missouri MO SB 793 7/23/10 (same scenario as TN)
Passed in 2011: Total: 8 states
Utah UT HB 354 3/23/11
Idaho ID S 1115 4/01/11
Virginia VA HB 2434 4/06/11
Oklahoma OK SB 547 4/20/11
Indiana IN HB 1210 5/10/11
Nebraska NE LB 22 5/18/11
Kansas KS HB 2075 5/25/11
Florida FL H 97 6/02/11
Total passed: 13 states
Not Passed in 2011:
Minnesota MN HF 201 Vetoed (5/25/11)
Montana MT SB 176 Vetoed (4/4/11)
Arkansas AR SB 113 Passed Senate and House with amendments, then House did not transmit bill back to the Senate for them to concur before adjournment (2/2/11)
Georgia GA SB 177 Same path as AR (4/12/11)
Rhode Island RI S 87 Passed Senate (4/6/11)
Alabama AL SB 202 Passed Senate (5/24/11)
Total: 6 states
Pending in 2011 session:
Pennsylvania PN SB 3 Passed Senate
Ohio OH HB 79 Reported out of House committee
Wisconsin WI AB 154/SB 92 In committees of origin
Oregon OR HB 3600 In House committee
Iowa HF 576, HSB 57, SF 38 In committees of origin
Michigan HB 4143/HB 4147 In House committee
South Carolina SC H 3406/S102 In committees of origin
New Jersey NJ A 3085 In Assembly committee
Total: 8 states

State of Health Insurance Abortion Coverage in the States

by Ian Frith

April 27, 2011

An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortion. When asked specifically if they supported or opposed the use of public funds to provide coverage for abortion in health insurance plans created by Obamacare, 72% of Americans were in opposition! Only 23% percent supported publicly funded abortion coverage in insurance plans, and 5% did not know (Quinnipiac 2009).

In an effort to reflect the will of the people, 9 state governments have passed laws (and at least 16 more have pending legislation) prohibiting the coverage of abortion in any of the state insurance exchange programs instituted by Obamacare.

Several states have gone beyond this and restricted or proposed legislation restricting abortion coverage in all health insurance plans (public and private) except through the optional purchase of a rider.

In addition, several states which have not completely restricted abortion coverage in all insurance plans have restricted it in state-funded (read: taxpayer-funded) insurance plans.

The following map will give you a clear picture of the state of abortion coverage in insurance across the states:

= AL (SB183, SB202 and HB 558), AR (SB113), FL (H97 and S1414), GA (SB4 and SB29), IA (HF576, HSB57, and SF38), IN (SB116), KS (HB2292, HB2377), MI (HB4143 and HB4147), (MT SB176), NE (LB22 and LB132), NJ (A3085), OH (HB79), OR (HB3600), PA (SB3), SC (H3406 and S102), TX (HB552, HB636, HB1816, HB3112, HB3419 and SB404)

= AL (SB201, SB281 and HB557), IN (SB241), KS (HB2292, HB2377), MI (HB4143 and HB4147), MN (Only state-funded insurance: HF201, SF103), NE (LB22), OR (HB3600), SC (H3406), TX (SB404)

State of Montanas Governor

by Ian Frith

April 20, 2011

Simply put, he is a liberal Democrat. And that fact accounts for the recent failure of many Republican-backed pro-life and pro-family bills despite the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

One individuals vote can make all the difference in the world, especially when that individual is the governor of a state. This point can be illustrated by looking at two states in particular: Arizona and Kansas. Both of their former governors, staunch democrats Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius respectively, were appointed to positions by President Barack Obama. Both states now have Republican governors: Jan Brewer in Arizona, and Sam Brownback in Kansas. In recent weeks several pro-life bills have been sent to those governors desks such as a bill prohibiting abortion after 22 weeks based on fetal pain in KS and a bill strengthening abortion clinic regulations in AZ. These and other similar bills would have been met with a ready veto a few years ago, but instead governors Brownback and Brewer were happy to agree with their legislatures and celebrate the bills passage.

Not so with Governor Brian Schweitzer in Montana. Three bills important to many constituents and legislators alike weathered the long process of hearings, votes, and amendments only to receive a prompt veto upon reaching the governors desk.

Senate Bill 176 prohibits the coverage of abortion in insurance plans created through state exchanges set up by Obamacare. The bill quotes a January 2010 Quinnipiac University poll which states that 7 in 10 Americans opposed the use of federal dollars to cover abortion in health insurance plans. Indeed, because of this, eight states have already passed bills that mirror SB 176 (AZ, ID, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT and VA). Unfortunately, Governor Schweitzer gave it a no-go and without a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override his veto whatever the governor says goes.

This is clearly illustrated with the switched votes of many democrat senators on the vote to override the veto of HB 30. This bill would exempt Health Care Sharing Ministries, faith-based, nonprofit organizations, from being regulated as disability insurance companies or policies. It passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, gaining the votes of Democrat and Republican legislators, however, when pressed to vote to override the Governors veto, many Democrat’s yeas turned into nays.

House Bill 161 repealing the medical marijuana law met a similar fate and was vetoed on April 13th. Click here to see a video highlighting the Governors position on medical marijuana.

Another strong pro-family bill, HB 456, which would have required parental consent for their childs participation in sex education classes in a public school, received a veto the same day. The bill also contained an important clause prohibiting any abortion service provider, such as abortion giant Planned Parenthood, from teaching any courses or offering any materials to students on the school grounds. With this veto the governor sends a message that he believes schools should decide when and how children learn about sex, not their parents.

The good news in all of this is that Governor Brian Schweitzer is term limited. It is not enough, however, to simply breathe a sigh of relief that he will not be running again in 2012. Those who wish to see legislation like that mentioned above signed into law in the future would do well to note that elections have consequences, a governor has an incredible influence on the policy of a state, and voters decide who the governor will be.

State of the 2011 Session in Review: Idaho

by Ian Frith

April 19, 2011

Since the Adjournment of Idahos 2011 legislative session on April 7th, a wide spectrum of adjectives have been used to describe this years proceedings. Governor Otter called it very succesful, while Senate Democrats called the session the worst in their collective memories. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said it was a difficult session among some of the worst economic times in memory and Representative Erik Simpson summed it up by quoting Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

From a pro-life and pro-family perspective it is easy to agree with the Governor and call Idahos 2011 session very successful indeed. According to Julie Lynde, Executive director at Cornerstone Family Council, Governor Otter signed every piece of pro-life legislation that crossed his desk. And many of those measures were quite significant.

Fetal Pain

Idaho joined Nebraska and Kansas as the third state to prohibit late term abortions (in this case 20 or more weeks) based upon an unborn childs ability to feel pain. This is a huge step toward upholding the value of all life, and in reinforcing the humanity of the unborn child. At least 12 other state legislatures are advancing similar measures. (See the Fetal Pain state map here).

Prohibiting Abortion Coverage in Obamacare

With the passage of S 1115, Idaho ensured that abortion will not be covered in health plans created through the Health Exchange instituted in Obamacare. Seven other states have passed this same law (AZ, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT, VA) and at least 17 other states have introduced similar measures. The passage of this bill ensures that the current law in Idaho, which prohibits abortion coverage in all health insurance plans, will not be jeopardized by Obamacare.

In addition, a resolution was passed (HCR 23) which removed a dangerous Health and Welfare Medicaid rule that could be used to fund teen abortions and potentially circumvent existing parental consent laws.

Not only was unborn life further protected by the legislature this year, but life was also protected until natural death with the passage of S 1070 prohibiting physician assisted suicide.

Fiscally speaking it was also a productive session. Governor Otter was an active proponent of a bill that was passed to balance the budget without raising taxes and several educational reform bills removing collective bargaining for teachers, instilling a merit-based pay system, and shifting allocation of school funds toward technology.

Very successful seems to be an adequate description of this years session, though it is easy to see how some might disagree. Perhaps Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill sums it up best of all when he says: History will tell if this session was a great accomplishment or failure. Anyone who claims we haven’t accomplished much wasn’t paying attention.

State of the 2011 Session in Review: Maryland

by Ian Frith

April 12, 2011

Maryland legislators ended their three month session yesterday, April 11th. The completion of this years session brought the passage of bills that would raise the alcohol tax by three percent, increase the buffer zone between picketers and funerals, provide incentives for facilities that create energy by burning trash and many others. But more notable than what was passed, is what was not passed.

Same-Sex Marriage

Contrary to many predictions that Maryland would soon become the 6th state to legalize same-sex marriage, SB 116, which would accomplish that goal, failed to pass the House of Delegates and was recommitted to the House Judiciary Committee. This victory came through the dozens of phone calls and letters from those of you who stand for traditional marriage. Many thanks are due to Derek McCoy, President of the Association of Maryland Families, and their entire staff for the tireless work that was poured into supporting this effort.

This victory for traditional marriage, though huge, is not necessarily a permanent one. Since the bill was recommitted to committee, and not actually voted upon and failed, it can be brought up again next year at its current stage in the process. Indeed, Chuck Butler, chairman of Equality Maryland the states leading LGBT advocacy organization said:

So we agreed that if we could not pass the bill this year, we should try again next year. Importantly, House leadership committed to bringing up the bill again in 2012. To preserve our prospects of success, therefore, it was best not to hold a vote now, given the chances of the bills defeat by a wide margin. It would be more difficult, within a year, to convert no votes to yes than to obtain a yes from delegates who had not locked in their position with an actual vote.

Therefore we must remain ever vigilant on this issue, because homosexual activists certainly will.

Gender Identity

Another bill that ended in the did not pass category was HB 235, the gender identity bill which would prohibit alleged discrimination against a person based upon their gender identity. The concept of gender identity attempts to legitimize a person’s wish, perception or belief that he or she is actually the opposite sex than his or her own sex at birth. This type of legislation tries to normalize and mainstream transgendered behavior such as cross-dressing. House Bill 235 was recommitted to the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee by a vote of 27 to 20.

These two victories in one of the most liberal states in the union are welcome news for everyone who stands for conservative family values!

For a more complete list of legislation that was passed (or failed) in Maryland this legislative session, click here.

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