NEWS BRIEFS: House forbids 'gay marriages' on military bases
WASHINGTON (BP)--The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill July 8 with an amendment aimed at preventing military chaplains from performing "gay marriage" ceremonies on military bases.
The amendment by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R.-Kan., passed 236-184. It would prevent funds from being used to train chaplains in preparation for overturning the military policy against open homosexuality, commonly called the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, The Hill website reported. The amendment was part of a Defense spending bill that passed, 336-87.
Huelskamp said his amendment would ensure the military is "not used to advance a narrow social agenda."
In May the Navy authorized "gay marriage" ceremonies on bases located in states where such unions are legal. The Navy, under pressure, suspended the directive "pending additional legal and policy review."
Huelskamp said the amendment would "prohibit the enforcement" of the Navy's directive.
"I fear that chaplains who refuse to perform these ceremonies may find themselves under attack and their careers threatened," he said on the House floor. "... We must ensure the religious liberty of all military members, particularly that of chaplains."
The House version of the bill must be reconciled with the Senate's version, which has yet to pass.
THOUSANDS OF ABORTIONS UNREPORTED IN ILLINOIS -- A state system for monitoring abortions in Illinois is so broken that as many as 17,000 of the procedures may go unreported each year, according to the Chicago Tribune.
A Tribune investigation found the following among the shortcomings in the Illinois Department of Public Health's required collection of information on abortions in the state:
-- State regulators have recorded between 7,000 and 17,000 fewer abortions per year than those reported by the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research organization that tracks the procedures nationwide.
-- The department receives reports from only 26 abortion providers, though the Guttmacher Institute says there are 37 in the state. This may mean some clinics are operating "off the books," according to the newspaper.
-- Almost 4,000 reports of complications from abortion in 2009 did not include the required description.
-- The department has never attempted to discipline an abortion provider, even though refusing to report complications is a basis for losing a license and intentionally failing to provide complete reports is a crime.
Maurice Stevenson, whose wife died in 2002 from an infection after an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago, told the Tribune, "It's outrageous. These procedures, complications and deaths should be public record."
Planned Parenthood could not confirm if it reported the death of Stevenson's wife because its records for 2002 are in storage, the Tribune reported June 16.
The Tribune report was not surprising, according to the Chicago-based Pro-life Action League.
The Pro-life Action League "wishes to see abortion outlawed, but while it is legal we believe the lives and health of women should be protected," said Joe Scheidler, the league's national director, in a letter to the Tribune. "Yet abortion advocates fight any regulations, fearing they might restrict abortion."
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.