State Legislation Round-Up

By Mary Spaulding Balch
NRLC State Legislative Director

 

Arizona

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed a women's right to know bill that would have required abortion facilities to provide women contemplating abortion information on its risks, alternatives, and information on the developing unborn child.

Georgia

In Georgia, an amendment creating a "Choose Life" license plate was approved by the state Senate, 35-14, after successfully being attached to another bill.

Unfortunately, there was not enough time to get it approved by the House before the legislative year ended.

Idaho

In Idaho, a women's right to know bill made it through the state Senate, 20-15 only to be narrowly killed in a house committee.

Iowa

Iowa's House passed an unborn victims of violence bill, 63-36. A similar unborn victims bill previously passed the state senate but failed to meet the Legislature's "funnel" deadline due to a computer glitch. The House version is expected to pass the Senate.

Kansas

The Kansas House passed a bill requiring abortion facilities to meet minimum standards by a vote of 77-47. It now moves to the state Senate. The House also passed an unborn victims of violence bill by a decisive vote, 105-19. It also goes to the Senate for consideration.

Maryland

Maryland, senators voted to indefinitely postpone consideration of an unborn victims of violence bill by the narrow margin of 25-22.

Minnesota

In Minnesota, legislation preventing tax funding of the abortion industry, including Planned Parenthood, passed the House 83-46. The bill, known as the Taxpayer Protection Act, passed the House as part of an omnibus bill.

In a related pro-life vote, the Minnesota House voted against tampering with the 1973 state law that made embryonic stem-cell research illegal.

Mississippi

In Mississippi, the state House decisively passed a bill banning the creation of human clones, 118-0. It is currently pending in the state Senate.

Nebraska

Governor Mike Johanns of Nebraska signed a bill repealing a state law that required school nurses to instruct teens how to use the judicial bypass in the state's parental notification law to obtain an abortion without parental knowledge.

South Dakota

South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed a bill making it illegal to clone human beings. The bill passed the state senate, 33-1. It passed the House unanimously. South Dakota becomes the sixth state to ban cloning.

Also in South Dakota, a bill which had been amended to prohibit abortion with exceptions for the health and the life of the mother was narrowly defeated in the final vote in the Senate.

Most accounts of the South Dakota bill failed to report the true nature of the bill as passed by the South Dakota legislature and sent to the Governor. The bill that was passed contained a "health" exception allowing abortion "if there is a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman." The bill left the application of that health exception language to the subjective judgment of the abortionist, thus creating a gigantic loophole. Although the bill created the impression of prohibiting most abortions, the "health" exception, as drafted, meant it could have prohibited none.

In addition, most accounts also failed to take note of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe v. Wade 5-4 in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, and since that time, one anti-Roe justice (White) has been replaced by one strongly pro-Roe justice (Ginsburg), leaving the Court 6-3 in favor of Roe.

Thus, the bill could have provided the overwhelmingly pro-abortion Supreme Court with the opportunity to reaffirm at this time the fundamental holding of the tragic Roe v. Wade decision, making it even more difficult for a future Supreme Court, containing new justices to reverse Roe.

Contrary to some reports, National Right to Life did not lobby against the bill.

After initial passage of the bill, Governor Rounds (who had a pro-life voting record as a member of the South Dakota legislature) issued what is known in South Dakota as a "style and form" veto. He pointed out that the bill, as drafted, repealed existing restrictions on abortion. This flaw could have left South Dakota with fewer abortion restrictions

than at present if a court struck down the abortion prohibition with the "health" exception but upheld the repeal of current abortion restrictions.

Governor Rounds sent back to the legislature wording changes to correct this flaw, but one legislator felt the governor had over-stepped his authority in using the "style and form" veto in this matter and changed his vote defeating the bill.

Tennessee

The Tennessee state Senate approved a constitutional amendment that would ensure the state constitution does not grant a legal right to abortion.

The Senate approved the proposal 23-6. The measure must be approved twice by the state legislature before it is placed on the ballot for voter approval.

Virginia

Still awaiting action by Virginia Governor Mark Warner is an unborn victims of violence bill. It passed the House 74-25 and the Senate 33-7.

West Virginia

Governor Bob Wise of West Virginia vetoed an unborn victims of violence bill despite its receiving overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature. Unfortunately, the legislature's session ended before the veto could be overridden.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has stated that he will likely veto a pro-life bill that would provide an expanded conscience clause for medical professionals. The legislation would allow medical professional to refuse to participate in abortion, sterilization, destruction of human embryos, and the harvesting of fetal tissue or organs.