Category archives: State of the States

State of the States: Indiana

by Family Research Council

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.

State of the States: Kansas

by Family Research Council

March 30, 2011

Mirroring a bill passed last year in Nebraska, the Kansas legislature recently gave final approval to a measure prohibiting abortions after 21 weeks based on an unborn childs ability to feel pain. This measure, HB2218, has now been sent to Governor Sam Brownback who is expected to sign it. Passage of this legislation signals a huge step toward fully protecting and valuing unborn human life. It also sets a precedent among states, the majority of which currently protect life at fetal viability, a stage which can be hard to definitively determine. Kansas is not alone in their effort to protect unborn children who can feel pain, 12 other states currently have similar legislation (ID, OK, OR, AR, AL, GA, SC, FL, MS, MN, IA, IN).

Another pro-life bill passed by the legislature was HB2035. It defines the criteria for those required to report cases of suspected child abuse and broadens it to include those who work or volunteer at organizations that provide pregnancy services to minors. Also included are reporting requirements for abortion providers; a provision allowing a woman to file suit if an abortion was performed upon her illegally; and a parental consent requirement among other things.

On the topic of abortion, other bills in the legislature would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion (HB2377), specify licensing requirements of abortion clinics (HB2337, SB36, SB45 and SB165), create health exceptions to late-term abortions (HB2007), and address abortion coverage in health insurance (HB2292 and HB2293).

In other areas, the legislature recently passed a bill requiring citizens to present valid ID before voting and in order to register to vote. Provisions of the law do not start going into effect until January 1st, 2012.

Currently in committees of origin are bills that establish covenant marriages and enact divorce reform (HB2254), prohibit public funding of human cloning (HB2214), and include sexual orientation and gender identity in state law prohibiting discrimination (SB53). Also of note is a bill which has passed the house and is now in a senate committee that addresses the method of selecting judges (HB2101).

For more on the issue of fetal pain please read The Science of Fetal Pain by Jeanne Monahan.

State of Abortion Funding in the States

by Family Research Council

March 25, 2011

With the recent passage of the Continuing Resolution here in DC there has been much debate about whether taxpayer money should be used to fund abortion. Currently, due to provisions in various federal appropriations bills, federal tax dollars are not supposed to be used to fund the procedure of abortion. President Obama changed all this, first by eliminating the long standing policy called the Dornan Amendment that prohibited all funds that Congress approved for D.C.(both local and federal) from being used for elective abortions. With a liberal majority in the last Congress, language contained in a Continuing Resolution banned only the use of federal funds for elective abortions. This change by pro-abortion legislators gutted the entire policy, because the District government could then use taxpayer funds to pay for abortion as long as a bookkeeping sleight-of-hand was employed to claim the abortions were being paid for with District of Columbia tax monies. President Obamas second successful attempt to federally fund abortions was through his health care legislation, which both funds and subsidizes the abortion industry.

In addition to the aforementioned examples, nothing currently prevents millions of dollars of grant money and subsidies from being allocated to the scandal-plagued abortion giant Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers annually. This money goes to fund their non-abortion services, effectively freeing up their other funds to finance not only the hundreds of thousands of abortions they perform each year, but also their lobbying efforts to stop any piece of legislation that seeks to protect the life of the mother or her unborn child.

Congress is not the only entity that is currently addressing this grave misuse of Americans hard earned tax dollars; several state governments have also taken up the issue of taxpayer funding of abortion. As noted in the map below, four states have proposed constitutional amendments prohibiting the public funding of abortion. Even more noteworthy, four additional states have proposed legislation not only aimed at denying direct funding of abortion but also denying funding to any entity that provides elective abortions. Two states in particular, New Hampshire and Indiana, have called out Planned Parenthood by name, emphasizing the fact that they will not be receiving state funds, and Montana has specifically not allocated any funds to Planned Parenthood in their state budget.

In addition to the states below that have addressed the issue of taxpayer funding of abortion, many other states have introduced bills that would prohibit coverage of abortion in health insurance plans (both state and private plans). These measures are not addressed in the following map.

For further information check out the Chiaroscuro Foundation’s report: Does Planned Parenthood Need or Deserve Federal Funds? An Analysis of Planned Parenthood’s Revenue and Services

State of Sex Trafficking In the States

by Family Research Council

March 22, 2011

In an address to the U.N. General Assembly President Bush said:

Each year, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world’s borders. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as five, who fall victim to the sex trade. This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars each year — much of which is used to finance organized crime. Theres a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. The victims of sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life, an underground of brutality and lonely fear. Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.

This tragic form of slavery is not just a problem over there, in third world countries far removed from us. On the contrary, it is happening right in our own backyard. Despite laws criminalizing it, sex trafficking is a huge problem in America.

In The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Americas Prostituted Children, Shared Hope International affirms that at least 100,000 American children a year are victims of sex trafficking, and that number may be much higher. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) highlights the fact that sex trafficking of children is largely under-reported in their estimate that 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused or assaulted before they become adults and 1 in 10 boys, however less than 35% of those cases are reported. Researchers estimate that 1015 percent of children living on the streets in the United States are trafficked for sexual purposes according to the National Institute of Justice in their report Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: What Do We Know and What Do We Do About It?.

And that question, What do we do about it? must be considered, both on an individual level and a state/federal government level. Legislatively speaking, both the federal government and many state governments have passed laws criminalizing human trafficking, and providing for its punishment (see figure 1 below). However, we are finding that this is not enough. Shared Hope International states:

Victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are frequently processed as juvenile delinquents or adult prostitutes. Prostituted juveniles are trained by their trafficker/pimp to lie to authorities and are provided with excellent fraudulent identification resulting in their registration in the arrest records as an adult… Due to the unique trauma bonding that occurs between a victim and her trafficker, these children often run from juvenile facilities right back to the person that exploited them.

The National Institute of Justice says it is estimated that 96 to 98 percent of victims are in need of basic amenities for survival: food, housing, transportation, etc. In response to this many states have introduced legislative initiatives to promote awareness and support to those brutalized by sex trafficking. The figures below will give you an idea of the state of sex trafficking laws in the states.

For a detailed explanation of each state law check out the Fact Sheet on State Anti-Trafficking Laws from US PACT [Policy Advocacy to Combat Trafficking] a program of the Center for Women Policy Studies.

For assistance or to report a sex trafficking case contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center national hotline at: 1-888-3737-888 or go to the Polaris Project website.

To view a detailed US Department of State summary on human trafficking in the US and other countries click here.

State of Pro-Life Legislation in the States

by Family Research Council

March 17, 2011

Polling data affirms that more Americans now consider themselves pro-life than pro-abortion with the percentages coming in at 51% to 42% according to a Gallup poll conducted May 7th - 10th, 2009. This pro-life view was voiced at the polls last November resulting in the election of many pro-life legislatures across the states. Pledging their commitment to support the rights of the unborn child, legislators in many states have sponsored a broad range of pro-life bills. These bills range in subject matter from requiring ultrasounds, to parental consent, to stricter abortion clinic regulations, to bills that would outlaw abortions from the point at which the unborn can feel pain, but all are uniformly based on the fundamental idea that life is precious and should be protected at all stages of development.

The following maps will begin to give you a picture of the state of pro-life legislation in the states. More maps documenting pro-life legislation will be forthcoming.

State of the States: Rhode Island

by Family Research Council

March 17, 2011

Same-sex “marriage” bills (H 5012 and S 29) have been heard in both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, but have not yet received a vote. Gordon Fox, openly homosexual and the speaker of the largely Democratic House, wants to delay the vote on the House version of the bill until he can be sure it has enough supporting votes to pass. This hesitance to move forward with same-sex marriage is good news for supporters of marriage defined as one man and one woman.

Even if the votes are obtained to pass the House, Senate passage is far from certain especially since the Senate President, Theresa Paiva-Weed, opposes same-sex marriage. Governor Lincoln Chafee, however, supports the bills, even urging their passage in his inaugural address, and has pledged his signature should one of them reach his desk.

These two same-sex marriage bills are not the only legislation regarding marriage and relationships in Rhode Island. Also heard in the Senate Judiciary committee last Thursday were two constitutional amendments defining marriage (S 162 and S 115). Senate Bill 162 defines the only valid marriage in RI as between a man and a woman, while Senate Bill 115 also defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but leaves open the possibility of establishing civil unions for same-sex couples. Should either of these bills pass (or the House version, H 5260), it would be submitted to the citizens of Rhode Island for a vote.

Two bills regarding domestic unions between persons of the same sex have also received a hearing. Senate Bill 376 would legalize domestic unions between any two adult spouses regardless of sex, and Senate Bill 377 would establish reciprocal beneficiary agreements for any two adults who do not fit within the legal definition of marriage, essentially granting the rights, benefits, and protections of marriage to same-sex couples.

Also in both House and Senate committees are bills that further expand the definition of “hate crimes,” making the motivation behind a crime a crime itself and including gender identity and sexual orientation as a protected class (H 5089 and S 121). In addition, several bills implementing abortion restrictions or unborn child protections are currently in committee.

State of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in the States

by Family Research Council

March 14, 2011

Several state non-discrimination statutes include the phrases gender identity/gender expression and sexual orientation as factors in addition to race and sex against which alleged discrimination is prohibited. Other state legislatures have proposed legislation which would add these terms or further broaden them. Many bills would make it illegal to deny employment, housing and even public accommodations such as rest rooms and other traditionally sex-specific spaces to a person based upon what sex they perceive themselves to be any particular day.

The concept of gender identity/gender expression attempts to legitimize a persons wish, perception or belief that he or she is the opposite sex than his or her actual sex at birth. This type of legislation tries to normalize and mainstream transgendered behavior, cross-dressing, etc. Additionally if enacted, those measures that include public accommodations become a public safety concern. This occurs by creating legitimized access sought by predators to women and children in places such as public restrooms and gym locker rooms, where entitlement to privacy has always been recognized.

The map below will give you an idea of the state of gender identity/gender expression and sexual orientation in the states.

State of the States: Wyoming

by Family Research Council

March 7, 2011

Shortly before the Wyoming legislature adjourned (March 3rd), a final vote to concur on HB74, as passed out of the joint conference committee, was held in both the House and Senate. The final version of HB74 stated that Wyoming would not recognize same-sex “marriages” performed out-of-state, but did not address civil unions or other relationships. The House voted 31 to 28 to pass the bill as amended, however the Senate failed the bill by a 16 to 14 vote.

It is unfortunate that this bill would die by such a close margin, especially with strong Republican majorities in both Houses. Becky Vandeberghe, president of WyWatch Family Action, emphasized however that this bill and other pro-family bills had made it farther in the legislative process this year than in past sessions, and that constituents now have a clear voting record of their legislators stance on marriage.

Other marriage-related bills that did not receive a final vote before the session adjourned include: SJ 5, a Marriage Protection Amendment, HB 150, a bill establishing civil unions, and HB 149, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. These are issues that Wyoming voters can expect to weigh in on in future sessions.

Concerning other issues, three bills that did not pass out of the legislature this session include a bill that would prohibit assisted suicide (HB 148), a bill that would establish gender identity/sexual orientation “non-discrimination” (HB 142), and a bill that would require doctors to give specified information to women and tell them they could view an ultrasound before performing an abortion (HB 251).

State of Physician Assisted Suicide in the States

by Family Research Council

March 7, 2011

Since Oregon became the first to legalize physician assisted suicide, this issue has come up in several other states. Many have passed laws prohibiting physician assisted suicide, while others are currently debating this issue. The following map will give you a good picture of the state of physician assisted suicide in the states.

State of the States: Life Affirmed in South Dakota

by Family Research Council

March 4, 2011

On Wednesday, the South Dakota Senate approved HB1217, a measure designed to protect women and help ensure that a decision to have an abortion is informed and not coerced. The bill establishes a 72-hour waiting period for an abortion, after a physician has consulted with the woman and completed a risk assessment. Additionally, the physician will be required to provide the woman with contact information for nearby pregnancy help centers for her to schedule a consultation with them so that she can be fully informed of the risks of the abortion procedure and hear about possible alternatives.

Chris Hupke, Executive Director, South Dakota Family Policy Council says this bill is all about education. Planned Parenthood has established themselves to be unreliable to provide the education (to women seeking an abortion). This bill would not be necessary if Planned Parenthood was doing their job. Citing cases where women are forced into an abortion by the father of the child, or feel pressured while emotionally vulnerable Chris goes on to emphasize that, Coercion is not choice. We are trying to make sure that (abortion) is a voluntary choice.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has appeared to indicate that he will sign the bill, stating in an article by the Rapid City Journal:

I am pro-life, I’ve read the bill and I’m inclined to sign it, but I want to examine it along with the counsel of others to make sure there’s no unintended consequences that haven’t been identified during the debate.”

Passage of this bill by both chambers is an enormous victory for life and we congratulate the South Dakota Family Policy Council for their tireless work on this bill. If signed into law, South Dakota will surpass the other states with the strongest safeguards ensuring that women are informed about their unplanned pregnancies.