NEWS BRIEFS: Indiana 1st state to ban Planned Parenthood funding
WASHINGTON (BP)--Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law May 10 expansive pro-life legislation that includes a ban on state-directed funding of abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.
In doing so, the Republican governor made Indiana reportedly the first state to enact such a prohibition on money for organizations that perform or promote abortion. The law exempts hospitals and outpatient surgery centers. The measure will eliminate about $2 million of the $3 million in federal funds Planned Parenthood of Indiana receives each year, according to The Indianapolis Star.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana filed a lawsuit hours after Daniels signed the legislation, but federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt denied the organization's request that she block enforcement of the new law, The Star reported. The measure will remain in effect while Pratt -- nominated by President Obama -- considers its constitutionality.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates -- which make up America's leading abortion provider at more than 332,000 of the procedures in 2009 -- have seen their reputation damaged repeatedly in recent years. Undercover investigations in several states have revealed Planned Parenthood employees demonstrating a willingness to aid self-professed sex traffickers whose prostitutes are in their early teens, seeking to cover up alleged child sexual abuse and agreeing to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.
Indiana Right to Life reported the new law also: 1) authorizes the state to bar abortions at 20 weeks gestation based on evidence unborn babies are capable of feeling pain at that point, 2) empowers Indiana to opt out of abortion coverage in health exchanges called for by last year's health-care reform law, 3) mandates written information on abortion be given to women considering the procedure and 4) requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Daniels "has now established Indiana as one of the leading pro-life states in the nation," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said in a written statement. "This legislation places Indiana on the vanguard of efforts to protect the unborn, to deny public funds to businesses that profit from abortion, and to ensure that women considering abortion have full and factual information about such issues as fetal development and alternatives to abortion."
PRESBYTERIANS TO ALLOW NON-CELIBATE GAY MINISTERS -- Non-celibate homosexuals soon will be eligible for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA) after a presbytery in the Twin Cities cast the 87th vote in favor of new standards May 10, giving the proposal a majority of votes. The new tally is 87-62, with 24 presbyteries still to vote, according to Presbyterian News Service. The change takes place July 10.
The change deletes language requiring "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness" for church officers. Other bodies that allow practicing homosexuals to be ministers include the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), an alliance of conservative Christians working to turn around left-leaning denominations, criticized the move.
"This is a lonely day for Presbyterians who believe what the Bible and the Church have consistently taught: that God's will is that we be faithful in marriage or chaste in singleness. Now we belong to a denomination that is no longer sure it believes that teaching," IRD Vice President and Presbyterian Action Director Alan Wisdom said in a statement. "Now we belong to a denomination that gives no clear counsel on sexuality. It is a denomination that will not necessarily support its members as they struggle to obey the high standards of Scripture. It will not call them to repentance when they fall short of those standards, and it will not offer God's forgiveness for what it no longer recognizes as sexual sins. In a society where the abuse of sexuality is devastating millions of lives, this abdication by the PCUSA is tragic.
Wisdom added, "By dropping the 'fidelity and chastity' standard, the PCUSA separates itself from the Scriptures that are supposed to be its 'rule of faith and life.' It separates itself from the historic Christian tradition and the vast majority of the global Church. It separates itself from many of its own members who remain committed to upholding 'fidelity and chastity.'
"But those faithful Presbyterians are not truly alone. They remain united to the Church Universal and its Lord, and they remain in fellowship with one another. The IRD and its Presbyterian Action committee are committed to walking with them as they seek faithful ways forward."
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a separate organization from the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), which still holds to the historical view opposing homosexuality.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, and Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.