Tag archives: Legislation

The New Wave of Pro-Life Legislation

by Family Research Council

April 19, 2022

In the last seven days, an impressive number of Republican states have raced to send pro-life legislation over the finish line. Of course, the backdrop to these gains is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Mississippi’s abortion law (expected in June) that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. Thanks to the bold leaders in Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, and Kentucky, we’re witnessing a cultural shift that will have generational impact—regardless of what the justices decide.

Arizona’s Governor Takes Major Stride in Protecting the Unborn

On March 30, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill that criminalizes abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This bill, sponsored by state Senator Nancy Barto (R), also prohibits the prosecution of women who undergo an abortion.

Abortion businesses that breach this law, however, could face felony charges and lose their medical licenses. Physicians can carry out abortions past the 15-week mark only during medical emergencies. The bill does not allow exceptions for instances of sexual abuse.

In a letter, the Republican governor wrote, “In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life—including preborn life. I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”

In 2020, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that 13,186 abortions were carried out in the state. Recent data reveals that 636 were after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Conservatives consider Senate Bill 1164 a victory for the unborn. However, abortion business advocates have condemned the legislation as part of a long-term effort to make abortion illegal in Arizona. 

Senate Bill 1164 will become effective by late summer.

Making Oklahoma the Most Pro-Life State

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) promised his constituents that he would sign every pro-life bill that hit his desk. On April 12, the Republican lawmaker kept his word by signing Senate Bill 612 into law.

The bill makes it a felony for doctors in Oklahoma to carry out abortions with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Similar to the recently passed bill in Arizona, Senate Bill 612 has no exemption for rape or incest. Women can only undergo abortions if the pregnancy is life-threatening.

This legislation passed both the state House and Senate and was approved by more than 80 percent of elected officials.

Earlier this week, Tony Perkins interviewed Stitt and asked him what political statement various GOP legislators are making by passing pro-life bills.

The United States has some of the most egregious abortion laws in any of the civilized countries,” said Stitt. “For me, personally, standing for godly values, standing for what’s right, I’m more and more emboldened to represent the people of Oklahoma. Every state can do things a little bit differently, but I represent all four million Oklahomans and we overwhelmingly support life.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Senate Bill 612 an attack on women’s rights and “one of the most extreme state laws signed into law to date.” But Stitt has declared he is committed to making Oklahoma “the most pro-life state in the country.”

Florida Legislators Stand up for the Defenseless 

We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in a press conference on April 14, after signing pro-life legislation.

Similar to Arizona, House Bill 5 bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, abortions in Florida were allowed until 24 weeks of pregnancy.

This law applies even in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking. This sparked debate in the state Senate, with Democrats strongly objecting and sharing stories of women who decided to undergo an abortion after enduring trauma.

There are only two exemptions to the 15-week ban of abortions. House Bill 5 does not come into effect in instances where a pregnancy is a “serious risk” to the mother. Furthermore, this legislation does not apply in cases where fatal fetal abnormality is detected. A written confirmation from two physicians is required.

Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

In March, when this bill passed the state Senate 23-15, President Joe Biden called it “a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.”

Florida has the third highest rate of abortions in the country with 18.5 abortions per 1,000 women. In 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions reports that 71,914 abortions were carried out in the state. Once this law goes into effect in June, abortions are expected to decrease drastically.

Kentucky’s Battle to Preserve Life

In Kentucky, unlike the Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma legislatures, the path to passing pro-life legislation was not easy. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed House Bill 3, faulting the bill for excluding exemptions for rape and incest.

The governor wrote, “Under House Bill 3, a 12-year-old child that is raped and impregnated by her father would not have the option of a procedure without both the consent of her mother and without also notifying her rapist—her father—at least 48 hours prior to obtaining a procedure.”

On April 13, Kentucky’s Republican-dominated state House and Senate voted to override Gov. Beshear’s veto. The results were 76-21 in the House, and the Senate concurred with a vote of 31-6.

Kentucky’s House Bill 3 echoes Oklahoma law by banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for the life of the mother. This measure also requires additional reporting requirements for medication abortions. It stipulates that abortion businesses must work with a funeral home to bury or cremate the fetal remains.

Since the bill has an emergency clause, the law is effective immediately. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union announced they will be filing lawsuits in Kentucky federal court.

We Don’t Want Abortions in Our State,” Says Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt

by Deborah Laker

April 18, 2022

WASHINGTON D.C.– On April 12, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed into law SB 612, a bill that makes it illegal to carry out an abortion in the state except for medical emergencies.

The bill not only makes it a felony for doctors in Oklahoma to carry out abortions but has a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Senate Bill 612 was approved by more than 80 percent of the state legislature.

This pro-life legislation has been labeled “extreme” and “disturbing” by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. In a “Washington Watch” interview, Gov. Stitt supported SB 612 saying, “Other states can do things differently, but in the state of Oklahoma, we want to protect life.” The Republican lawmaker emphasized that he is representing all four million Oklahomans by taking a “stand with life” and is prepared to “push back against the federal government.”

Watch the full interview with Gov. Stitt on tonyperkins.com at 5 p.m. EST.

A Zero Star Review for Yelp’s Abortion Activism

by Joy Zavalick

April 18, 2022

The numerous pro-life protections being enacted across the country and the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization are making the abortion industry increasingly desperate to maintain its place in American society. Recently, this mounting desperation has been seeping into the policies of some major corporations. Yelp is the latest in a string of private companies (such as Citigroup) that have announced that they will cover travel expenses for employees who desire to obtain an abortion that would not be legal in the state where they live.

This type of company policy is in direct response to state-level pro-life protections such as Texas’ heartbeat law, which has successfully saved thousands of babies’ lives by protecting life in the womb after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. By implementing such policies, these corporations have actively decided against remaining neutral on the topic of abortion.

The recent uptick in companies publicly declaring a position on abortion shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering how corporate America has similarly caved to shareholder pressures on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. The activists behind progressive ESG investment organizations like As You Sow have consistently applied pressure to corporations, including Yelp.

In 2021, As You Sow published a report condemning Yelp for allowing Planned Parenthood sites to be “dogged by ongoing posting of unsubstantiated and illegitimate” reviews. The report concludes, “It is recommended that Yelp seek to engage harmed businesses”—such as Planned Parenthood—“in meaningful discussions about their experiences and desired alternative approaches.” Now, four months later, Yelp has chosen to enact a policy that will ensure that its employees continue contributing to the profits of the abortion industry by whatever means necessary.

Enabling female employees to obtain an out-of-state abortion instead of encouraging them to pursue motherhood is profitable—both for the abortion industry and the corporation that adopts such a policy. It minimizes the costs of providing maternity leave and keeps female employees actively engaged in the workplace for the obvious utilitarian purpose of maintaining productivity.

Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) summarized the motivation for corporations to encourage abortions during a 2020 House Financial Services Committee hearing. She said, “In the span of four decades since the 1970s, 38 million women joined the workforce. Without those women, our economy would be 25 percent smaller.” Her point is clear: ever since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy, companies have increasingly been able to profit from women employees—and they are not interested in going back.

Instead of liberating working women, Roe created a loophole for employers so they wouldn’t have to adapt to suit the needs of working mothers. Instead of creating an environment that embraced women in their totality, corporations could simply expect women to reject motherhood.

Employing a working mother often requires additional consideration beyond allowing for a few weeks of maternity leave once the child is born. Because of Roe, workplaces like Yelp have been able to take the easy way out for decades. Now, with the Dobbs decision on the horizon, they are doing everything in their power to make sure that the abortion loophole remains available.

Miriam Warren, chief diversity officer at Yelp, stated, “We’ve long been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, and believe that gender equality cannot be achieved if women’s healthcare rights are restricted.” Corporate America has come alongside the abortion industry in normalizing the sexist myth that motherhood and career success are mutually exclusive.

No one makes the claim that men cannot progress in their careers when they become fathers. Female workers do not need to suffer the mental and physical trauma of abortion in order to be equal with their male counterparts.

Yelp has caved to pressure from the abortion lobby and hidden its true utilitarian agenda behind a façade of female empowerment. Other cowardly corporations will likely follow suit. As companies increasingly reveal their true colors and lack of spine, Christians must carefully consider which ones receive their business.

Democrats (and Some Republicans) Are Pushing to Fully Legitimize Marijuana

by Family Research Council

March 31, 2022

The movement to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has seen astonishing success in the U.S. over the last decade. After voters in Colorado approved a ballot initiative to legalize its recreational use in 2012, 17 other states, plus Washington, D.C. and Guam, followed suit and legalized recreational pot over the next nine years.

The head-spinning sea change that has occurred in how our culture views marijuana over a relatively short period of time is hard to fathom. Not long ago, smoking pot was largely seen as a vice—and an illegal one—that was mostly indulged by rebellious teenagers and west coast hippies. Now, United States senators and congressman passionately advocate for the full legalization of marijuana from the Senate and House floors with straight faces.

While there are a multitude of reasons why this has happened, the indisputable fact is that marijuana has been federally registered as a Schedule 1 drug (alongside heroin and LSD) since the 1970s for a simple reason: it contains high levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a powerful psychoactive chemical that is highly addictive, has high potential for abuse, and can cause an array of negative psychotropic effects including anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, panic, paranoia, and psychosis. What’s more, the concentration of THC in marijuana has increased three-fold from 1995-2014, exponentially increasing the risks of widespread addiction, abuse, and detrimental health effects.

Despite the clear dangers that marijuana poses to public health, Democrats in the House have brought forward the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021 (H.R. 3617) for a vote this Friday. This bill would de-schedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, making it fully legal at the federal level. It also includes provisions to dramatically increase financial investments into the marijuana industry, including tax incentives for marijuana businesses and legalizing advertisements for marijuana products, making it easier for these businesses to manufacture high-potency and kid-friendly products. While many of the bill’s co-sponsors are Democrats, they aren’t its exclusive supporters. And Republicans have increasingly been supporting the legitimization of marijuana in recent years. This is problematic.

De-scheduling the drug is bad enough, but the MORE Act contains almost no public health guardrails or regulations. This will open the door for international drug cartels—who already use marijuana legalization as a cover for their illicit activities—to have increased money laundering access.

At a time when the opioid epidemic and other illicit drugs continue to ravage our communities, the last thing we need is the legalization of more recreational drugs. Contact your congressmen and urge them to vote against the MORE Act ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the House.

Human Rights Must Not Be Twisted to Include Abortion

by Arielle Del Turco

March 29, 2022

Senate Republicans are beginning to sound the alarm about a dangerous provision being slipped into U.S. sanction bills. Instead of simply reauthorizing the Global Magnitsky Act—an important mechanism for the U.S. government to sanction human rights violators—Democrats have made dangerous modifications to the language now waiting to be voted on in the Senate. The new changes would make a tool meant to punish foreign individuals for “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” (a term defined in U.S. law) to simply “serious human rights abuse” (a legally undefined concept).

Some conservative legislators have recognized how this bill might be abused. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Politico, “If you don’t define what human rights abuses are, you set up something so wide open that you could have abuse of a president who’s allowed to sanction anyone in the world for anything they feel like.”

This begs the question: just how might an untethered definition of human rights be abused by a far-Left administration that promotes an ever-expanding list of what they consider to be human rights? Sadly, the World Health Organization (WHO) offered a shameless example earlier this month of what twisting human rights to fit a radical agenda looks like.

In a massive report on “Abortion care guidelines,” the WHO made a series of bold recommendations meant to guide the policies of all countries. Among the many policy recommendations were the removal of laws and regulations that “restrict abortion by grounds” and the insistence that “abortion be available on the request of the woman, girl or other pregnant person.” Make no mistake—the WHO is urging countries to drop any protections for life in the womb.

To justify this radical push, the report points to several rights listed in international human rights treaties (some of which the United States has chosen not to ratify). Yet, it twists each of these rights to read a supposed “right” to abortion into it. This is a disingenuous interpretation of international human rights agreements; we shouldn’t let the WHO—and all the UN entities that have contributed to this corrupt understanding of human rights—set the standard. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saw this dangerous trend and commissioned a report from the Unalienable Rights Commission to ground the U.S. government’s understanding of human rights in American tradition and our commitment to international human rights principles.

It’s worth noting that both the right to life and the right to be recognized as a person before the law are widely-recognized in human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the United States ratified in 1992. While activists try to make human rights about expanding abortion, it’s up to us to uphold the integrity of the human rights movement.

Writing in National Review, Wesley Smith hinted at the dangers this WHO report poses for countries that want to protect life. “The WHO has forgotten that the entire world does not share the moral and policy perspectives of progressive Americans, Western European elites, and the odious CCP. In this sense, these so-called leaders are trying to impose policies on the world that I wager the majority of the people it supposedly serves do not find moral or right.”

In fact, the WHO’s guidelines are aligned with the abortion laws of China and North Korea—two of the greatest human rights violators of our time—and, sadly, the United States. However, they are completely out of step with all but six countries around the world that protect life in the womb after the second trimester. Rescinding the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, which prevented U.S. taxpayer money from funding abortions in other countries, was one of President Biden’s first acts in office, demonstrating his priorities and laying the groundwork for his administration to promote abortion around the world.

This is where the Democrat’s change of the Global Magnitsky Act’s language comes in. If the Biden administration is given the unlimited authority to sanction foreign individuals for “serious human rights violations” (again, a term not defined in U.S. law), there is a legitimate concern that administration officials will use the sanctions to target foreign officials for pro-life laws—something that the WHO would no doubt approve of. This would be a gross misuse of a human rights tool and waters down and confuses the profound meaning of human rights.

Congress should retain the Global Magnitsky Act’s original language. This will prevent opportunities for abuse by leftist administrations to punish countries with conservative values. The recent WHO report is a glaring example of why we must vigilantly protect against vague definitions of human rights that can be twisted to push radical policies.

Why Does the Far Left Want More Women to Have Abortions?

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

March 28, 2022

The Texas Heartbeat Act, in its mission to protect babies from abortion once their heartbeats are detectable, has faced legal challenges and resistance from the abortion industry—and come out victorious. Along with saving thousands of lives, Texas has also provided a notable case study as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case with the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade. While pro-life advocates are ready to care for mothers and their babies in the event Roe is overturned, the far Left that used to call for abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” is now busily working to ensure that more and more women undergo abortions.

The pro-“choice” façade of the past is finally slipping away as progressives become increasingly bold about their desire to increase the national abortion rate. Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who has been outspoken about his goal to direct abortion tourism to his state, signed a new law to make abortion even cheaper for people on private insurance plans. Washington and Oregon also had dramatic reactions to Idaho’s Texas-style heartbeat protection, resisting the neighboring state’s move to protect the unborn.

A recent New York Times article sounded gleeful as it relied on shoddy evidence to report that Texas’ Heartbeat Act had not drastically lowered abortions in the state because women were still able to obtain chemical abortion pills or travel across state lines to undergo abortions. National Review’s Michael New refuted these suspiciously enthusiastic claims, explaining, “the reported out-of-state monthly increase of 1,250 abortions is only a fraction of the in-state decline of 3,200 abortions reported by the Texas State Health and Human Services Commission for September 2021.”

Agents on the far Left are determined to encourage women to undergo abortions, even if abortion is the logically less convenient and less safe option for them. Fund Texas Choice promotes abortion by “provid[ing] travel assistance to Texas residents whether your appointment is in Texas or if you have to travel out-of-state.” The group arranges and pays for hotel stays, bus tickets, flights, and gas for women undergoing abortions in cities where they are not residents—in other words, whatever it takes to make sure that women have abortions. Even private organizations such as Citigroup have also chosen to fund travel for their employees to encourage them to get abortions.

Why are progressives hellbent on pushing dangerous chemical abortions and spending thousands of dollars on travel over the simple solution of carrying a child to term and respecting his or her right to be born? Are they really so deluded as to believe that birth, which women are biologically designed to perform, is more traumatizing than invasive surgical procedures or dangerous chemical regimens? Are they simply mesmerized by the profit they stand to gain from vulnerable women when abortion is normalized? One thing is for certain, those who champion abortion have chosen to reject reality.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, Americans know that every pregnant woman carries a unique, unrepeatable human being within her. It is only when a woman is considering an abortion that anyone denies the humanity of the child. As a visibly pregnant woman walks down the sidewalk or through the grocery store, it is not uncommon for men and women to stop to congratulate her on her baby. In fact, perhaps the only way to be more popular than a pregnant woman carrying a baby in her womb is to be a new mom carrying a baby in her arms. Person after person stops to say hello to the baby, play peek-a-boo, or ask, “Can you give me a smile?”

Today, progressives are tripping over themselves to increase “access” to abortion, but they should recognize there is a better route. As the world awaits a decision in Dobbs, churches, communities, and legislators are working to support moms, dads, and children in need. Instead of doing everything possible to ensure that moms believe their easiest and only option is abortion, it is time for the pro-abortion lobby to accept the truth that daily life affirms: abortion ends the life of a beautiful baby. We invite anyone who is or has previously been part of the pro-abortion lobby to join us. There are countless ways to help moms, dads, and babies in need. Encouraging more abortions is not one of them.

Pro-Abortion States Are Desperately Moving to Codify a “Right” to Abortion

by Chantel Hoyt

March 23, 2022

With the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization quickly approaching, legislators in pro-abortion states are bracing themselves for the possibility that Roe v. Wade’s reign over state abortion laws might finally come to an end, returning to the states the ability to regulate abortion as they see fit and more fully protect unborn life.

Not surprisingly, it is the states with the most pro-abortion laws that are leading the effort to enshrine “abortion rights” language in their state codes or constitutions. Colorado is swiftly moving HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), through the legislature, which would not only insert a “fundamental right” to abortion in state statute, but also explicitly deny unborn children any rights under the state (this includes all unborn children, regardless of gestational age).

Maryland (HB 1171) and Vermont (PR 5) are attempting to enshrine a right to abortion in their state constitutions, ensuring that, through future changes in the legislature and governorship, this “right” will remain in the constitution and be difficult to remove. If either of these states are successful, they will become the first to secure a “right to abortion” in their state constitution. If Maryland’s bill passes the Senate, it will go before voters in the state’s November 2022 election. After passing the legislature in February, Vermont’s Proposition 5 is already set to be on the ballot this November.

Additionally, pro-abortion activists in the state of Michigan have launched the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative as an effort to get a constitutional amendment ensuring a right to abortion on voter’s ballots this November. Similar to the language of Maryland’s proposed amendment, it establishes a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” which shall not be “denied, burdened, or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” This amendment would supersede a pre-Roe abortion ban, enacted in 1931, which has been unenforceable due to Roe. In order to get on the ballot, this measure needs to gain 425,059 signatures (equal to 10 percent of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election). It remains to be seen whether this measure will be on the ballot this year for Michigan voters.

These laws stand to be alarmingly far-reaching, invalidating what few pro-life laws these states have and cementing their current practice of actively funding abortion. Colorado, Maryland, and Vermont’s amendments would guarantee abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason, going far beyond Roe’s precedent of guaranteeing abortion to the point of viability (Michigan’s amendment allows abortion up to the point of viability). Each one of these laws would not only allow but defend abortions sought solely due to the race, sex, or disability of the unborn child.

 In Colorado, some legislators and constituents are cautioning that the RHEA, as currently written, would prevent the state from enforcing its parental notification law for minors seeking abortions. Maryland Right to Life has pointed out that the state’s proposed constitutional amendment would force physicians to carry out abortions against their consciences and religious convictions. After all, if something is a “fundamental right,” can it rightly be denied without the government stepping in to intervene?

Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, and Vermont are each seeking to become abortion destinations in the aftermath of Roe, where women from pro-life states can travel and abortionists can kill their unborn children. As troubling as this is, thankfully, even more states are poised to do just the opposite. Twenty-two states have laws (whether enacted before Roe and never repealed or designed to go into effect in the event Roe is overturned) to protect the unborn at conception or at the point his or her heartbeat can be detected (usually around 6-8 weeks), and others are currently moving to enact legislation to protect more unborn babies. Let these states stand out as a contrast to the states working so hard to maintain their cultures of death. The battle surely rages on, but there is hope in the midst of the darkness.

If you are a pro-lifer living in one of these pro-abortion states, please be encouraged. In Psalm 4:12, David reminds himself of God’s justice and care for the helpless, saying, “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.”

If you live in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, or Vermont, contact your legislators voicing your opposition and vote NO if one of these measures is on your ballot this November. Your voice matters!

For Marylanders, click here to send a message to your state Senators, telling them to oppose HB 1171!

For Coloradans, click here to send a message to your state Senator, telling them to oppose HB22-1279!

Bipartisan Florida Bill Strengthens Fatherhood and Mentorship Programs

by Dan Hart

March 21, 2022

Even in our hypersensitive age, where having the wrong political views can get you fired from your job, it still appears that certain facts of life are so fundamental that liberals and conservatives can occasionally agree on them.

Such was the case in Florida during the first week of March, where HB 7065, a bipartisan bill that, among other things, increases funding for fatherhood and mentorship programs, was passed unanimously in the Florida Senate (38-0) and sent to Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) desk. Due to the initiative and leadership of Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R), the bill had previously passed the House with another unanimous vote of 117-0.

Despite some on the Left who openly question whether fathers “are necessary,” it’s great to see such a unified front in Florida when it comes to acknowledging the massive problem of absent fathers and the formulation of concrete policies to help right the ship. As the introduction to the bill noted, the astonishing reality in America is that one out of four children grow up without a father. The negative consequences of this grim reality are so far reaching that it can be difficult to quantify, but the bill’s introduction gives a good summary of them:

Children raised in father-absent homes are more likely, on average, to abuse drugs and alcohol, show signs of antisocial and delinquent behavior, and drop out of high school. Such children are also more likely to experience poverty, teen pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, behavioral problems, and death in infancy.

To help get more absent fathers back into their children’s lives, HB 7065 allocates almost $70 million “to help fathers find a job, satisfy child support obligations, transition from being in jail, and [get] parenting education.” The bill would also “provide grants to community-based not-for-profit organizations to offer certain mentorship programs.” As we have written about previously, mentoring youngsters, teens, and young adults who grew up without fathers is a profoundly positive experience not only for those being mentored but also for the mentors themselves.

When we consider the fact that a bill like HB 7065 got unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, it proves that certain universal truths resonate with everyone and transcend political parties. When Democrats and Republicans can come together to unanimously pass a bill that acknowledges the importance of fatherhood, it should give us hope for the future. Perhaps bills like these can be springboards for future bipartisan-supported legislation that focuses on strengthening marriages and families—the foundational cornerstone of civilization.

The Passage of the FAIR Act is a Blow to Religious Freedom

by Family Research Council

March 18, 2022

The “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act” (known as the FAIR Act) may not sound like a bill that Family Research Council would have much interest in, but few bills in Congress these days can be taken at face value. As with multiple other bills that the Left has put forward over the last few years, the FAIR Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed almost along party lines on Thursday, includes language elevating “sexual orientation and gender identity” to “protected class status.” 

Progressive proponents of the FAIR Act claim that it “prohibit[s] corporations from forcing working people and consumers into pre-dispute forced arbitration agreements and class action waivers.” But the reality is that the bill defines the term “civil rights dispute” as a dispute arising from an alleged violation of any federal, state, or local law that prohibits discrimination and takes the unnecessarily limiting step of saying that not all such laws apply. The bill elevates the laws that prohibit only certain types of discrimination, including alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

As we have written about extensively, the Left erroneously equates sexual orientation and gender identity with immutable characteristics such as race, age, and national origin. It then elevates SOGI as a matter of “civil rights.” In the context of arbitration, as in the FAIR Act, elevating SOGI categories to protected classes status could have a detrimental effect on faith-based organizations that use arbitration clauses.

We have seen the repeated litigious attacks on Jack Phillips and other wedding vendors, Catholic Charities and faith-based adoption and foster care providers, and others. Just last year, florist Barronelle Stutzman was forced to close her business and settle a lawsuit after an eight-year court battle over being compelled to create flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding against her conscience.

Legislation like the FAIR Act unjustly picks winners and losers among discrimination allegations by unfairly, and dangerously, elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to protected class status. Going forward, FRC will urge the Senate to reject the FAIR Act and will continue to educate lawmakers and the public about how proposed SOGI laws violate religious freedom.

Heartbeats Protect the Unborn in Idaho

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joy Zavalick

March 17, 2022

On Monday, Idaho passed SB 1309, known as the “Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act.” This makes Idaho the second state to pass a likely enforceable law protecting unborn children after a heartbeat has been detected, as early as three or four weeks after conception. The bill beautifully states that a baby’s heartbeat “signals rhythmically and without pause the presence of a precious and unique life, one that is independent and distinct from the mother’s and one that is also worthy of our utmost protection.”

In Texas, where the nation’s first successfully-enforced Heartbeat Act went into effect in September, the law has saved an estimated 100 babies each day and caused abortions in the state to drop by 60 percent. Overall, the Texas Heartbeat Act is estimated to have saved close to 20,000 babies since going into effect over six months ago. The United States lost 629,898 precious unborn babies to abortion in 2019 alone; now, thanks to the legislative action of pro-life states such as Texas and Idaho, more and more lives are being saved from joining that tragic annual statistic. In these states, the sound of their own heartbeat is all the self-defense against abortionists that unborn babies need.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could overturn the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade and return jurisdiction over abortion legislation to the states, making it possible for states to protect their unborn citizens from the evils of abortion. Currently, the legal framework of Roe prevents states from enforcing pre-viability protections for the unborn; Texas and Idaho have been forced to pass laws placing enforcement in the hands of private citizens rather than the state in order to protect unborn life while the precedent of Roe still applies. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are certain or likely to protect the unborn with either currently unenforceable laws that will go into effect in the event that Roe is overturned or by passing similar legislation once it is overturned.

Overturning Roe will make it possible for states to pass laws protecting unborn life without the threat of a Supreme Court challenge or being forced to incorporate the private enforcement mechanisms utilized by Texas and now Idaho. This means the state could enforce their life-protecting laws and provide an even more thorough defense for the unborn.

The Idaho bill follows the unique enforcement mechanism of the Texas law with one clear difference. While the Texas law allows any citizen to bring legal action against anyone who carried out an abortion in Texas, the Idaho law allows only the woman on whom the abortion is being carried out, as well as the father, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle of an unborn child, to bring legal action against the abortionist who kills their unborn relative. The bill makes a specific exception that if a child is conceived in rape, the rapist forfeits the fatherly legal right to sue the abortionist. The empowerment of the unborn child’s family to seek justice is especially poignant when considering the helplessness and grief that many family members feel when a loved one undergoes an abortion. Providing a pathway to legal justice for families is beneficial in more ways than one.

Idaho’s victory for the unborn follows Texas’ most recent triumph over legal disputes against its Heartbeat Act. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the law against the abortion industry’s latest challenge, ensuring that abortion groups cannot sue to end the law because it relies on private citizens rather than state agents for its enforcement.

SB 1309 now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Brad Little for his signature. This bill actually amends an existing heartbeat protection law that the governor signed last April. That law nearly went into effect last year after successful court rulings on the Texas Heartbeat Act. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Texas law and the addition of some necessary language, this new Idaho bill is poised to go into effect 30 days after the governor’s signature.

Idaho also has a law that would protect unborn life from conception set to supersede this heartbeat law and go into effect whenever Roe v. Wade is overturned. As the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the potential to return abortion legislation jurisdiction to the states could be within reach. Passing this heartbeat protection shows that the people of Idaho want to protect unborn life now and are looking forward to the day when they can finally protect unborn life from conception.

Idaho, nicknamed the “Gem State” for its abundance of mineral resources, has taken an enormous step toward protecting its most precious natural resource: children. Texas and Idaho have demonstrated their commitment to saving the unborn from abortion to the greatest extent possible under the existing framework of Roe. Will the other 12 states with existing heartbeat protection laws that are not currently enforceable follow suit?

For more information about state abortion laws, see: frc.org/prolifemaps

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