LIFE DIGEST: Okla. pro-life bills signed

WASHINGTON (BP)--Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry has signed three pro-life bills into law.

Henry, a Democrat, signed measures that prohibit sex-selection abortions, regulate the use of the abortion drug RU 486 and provide conscience protections for pro-life health care workers, according to The Daily Oklahoman.

The measures, as parts of bills enacted in 2008 and 2009, previously had become law but County District Judge Vicki Robertson struck them down, saying they transgressed a state requirement that legislation have one subject. Each of the invalidated laws included at least two measures.

This year, pro-life legislators introduced each of the seven proposals in the rejected bills as a separate piece of legislation, The Oklahoman reported.

"Each is vitally important," said Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

The law on RU 486, for example, "requires the abortionist to be in the room when the abortifacient is administered," she said. This provision is intended to protect women from what appears to be a trend of establishing satellite abortion clinics where the doctor appears on video, not in person, according to NRLC.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which opposes pro-life laws, said it would wait until the state's legislative session is completed before deciding whether to challenge the measures in court.

Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life, called the bills "absolutely constitutional" after they were signed April 5, The Oklahoman reported. "They help to underscore the importance of defending innocent human life in every way we are able to under the current U.S. Supreme Court rulings," Lauinger said.

KENYA MAY EXPAND ABORTION -- Kenya's Parliament, with the urging of an American abortion rights advocacy organization, has approved a draft constitution that will expand abortion rights.

Though the proposed constitution says life starts at conception, it permits abortion in some circumstances, including when "the life or health of the mother is in danger," according to the World Congress of Families. As pro-life advocates point out, an exception for the mother's health essentially opens the door for abortion for any reason a pregnant woman asserts, such as her emotional state and the size of her family.

The revised constitution must be approved by popular vote of the Kenyan people in order to take effect.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is based in New York City, released a report in March calling for legalized abortion in Kenya, according to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

Joseph Meaney, director of international coordination for Human Life International, said in a written statement of the change in Kenya's constitution, "Kenyans are pro-life! ... This is nothing but population control, an imperialist assault intended to rob Africa of its future by eliminating her children."

COUNTY REGULATES DOCTORS -- An Indiana county has adopted an ordinance requiring non-resident doctors to provide their contact information to local hospitals in case there are complications following their performance of an abortion.

The three commissioners of Allen County, which contains the city of Fort Wayne, unanimously passed the measure April 2, according to The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. The ordinance requires abortion doctors who live outside the county and do not have admitting privileges to local hospitals to provide the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and the hospitals with information on how they or another doctor can be reached in case of an emergency.

The ordinance seeks to assure proper health care will be provided if there are complications after an abortion.

The law will affect George Klopfer, an Illinois osteopath who performs abortions at a Fort Wayne clinic, The News-Sentinel reported.

Another Indiana county, Vanderburgh County, approved an ordinance in 2008 requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, LifeNews.com reported.

Eleven states have laws mandating that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a local hospital, according to Americans United for Life: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

PHARMACIST CHARGED -- A Bath, N.Y., pharmacist has been charged with killing his unborn child by giving his girlfriend a drug used as part of the RU 486 regimen.

Police charged Orbin Eeli Tercero, 38, with criminal homicide of an unborn child and first-degree murder of an unborn baby March 31, according to the Elmira (N.Y.) Star-Gazette.

Allegedly, Tercero secretly gave his girlfriend, a fellow pharmacist who was 13 weeks pregnant, misoprostol, a pill that causes a woman's uterus to contract, expelling her baby. The woman, whose name was not disclosed, began to miscarry, and Tercero drove her to a hospital, where the miscarriage was completed.

Tercero's girlfriend had made an appointment for an abortion but changed her mind and decided to carry the child to term, the Star-Gazette reported.

RU 486, also known as mifepristone, is used as the first part in a two-step process in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Mifepristone causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in his death. Misoprostol is taken two days after mifepristone.

GOVS PROMOTE ABORTION RECOVERY -- Two governors have declared April as Abortion Recovery/Awareness Month.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both Republicans, made the declarations for their states, according to Focus on the Family Action CitizenLink.

Increasing awareness fosters "healing opportunities" for women and families affected by abortion, Pawlenty said, CitizenLink reported. "Abortion recovery programs help individuals heal by providing counseling, support groups, encouragement and education."

PERSONHOOD ON MISS. BALLOT -- An initiative defining an unborn child as a person from the moment of conception will be on the ballot in Mississippi in November 2011.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced April 1 petitioners for the Mississippi Personhood Amendment gathered more than 106,000 signatures, about 17,000 more than required to place the initiative on the ballot.

The amendment says, "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

Les Riley of Personhood Mississippi said in a written release, "The Legislature of the State of Mississippi has passed just about every restriction on abortion that can be passed. Still, about 3,000 preborn persons are murdered annually here. The churches and pro-life people of Mississippi are rising up to stop this slaughter, to recognize children as innocent persons, and to protect them by love and by law."


Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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