LIFE DIGEST: Fed gov't to fund N.H. Planned Parenthoods after N.H. says it won't
The federal government will take over the granting of family planning contracts, and Planned Parenthood is expected to bid to gain those contracts, a state government official said, according to a Sept. 8 report by The Nashua Telegraph.
The Executive Council, made up entirely of Republicans, voted 3-2 in June to prevent Planned Parenthood of Northern New England's six New Hampshire clinics from receiving $1.8 million in federal and state family planning funds. The council, which is the only one among the 50 state governments, cited Planned Parenthood's abortion practice in making its decision.
The council's members have urged N.H. Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas to designate other agencies to replace Planned Parenthood, but Toumpas has yet to find replacements, The Telegraph reported. Toumpas told the council the federal Department of Health and Human Services will quickly select vendors for the family planning contracts, according to the New Hampshire newspaper.
Pro-lifers expect Planned Parenthood to benefit from the federal intervention.
"President Obama has proven time and again that he will do whatever it takes to ensure that Planned Parenthood continues to receive taxpayer subsidies, even if that means going around a state's elected representatives," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a written statement. "Obama is the most pro-abortion President in our country's history and his allegiance to Planned Parenthood is unwavering."
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the country's leading abortion provider. Its affiliates reported more than 332,000 abortions in 2009, and it received more than $363 million in government grants and contracts during 2008-09. Both years are the most recent for which statistics are available.
MISS. PROPOSAL ON BALLOT -- The Mississippi Supreme Court cleared the way Sept. 8 for voters to decide in November whether the state constitution will protect human life from the moment of conception.
The state high court ruled Amendment 26, known as the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, could be on the Nov. 8 ballot. The justices rejected a lawsuit by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The abortion rights advocacy organizations contended the amendment violated the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.
The proposal declares that personhood begins at conception. The amendment's language says: "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."
Supporters of the amendment applauded the court's ruling.
"[W]e are very pleased that a high court has ruled against the ACLU and Planned Parenthood yet again," Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, said in a written release. "The nation is watching Amendment 26, and it is time now to move forward and pass this crucial prolife amendment to defend human life."
Brad Prewitt, executive director of Yes on 26, said, "We need Mississippi's pro-life public officials, pastors, and patriots to stand up and be counted in the days ahead as we seek to become the first state in the nation to grant civil rights to the unborn."
Backers of the initiative hope it will be used to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court opinion that legalized abortion.
The effort required the signatures of more than 89,000 Mississippians to qualify for the ballot. More than 106,000 signatures were certified.
TEXAS LAW BLOCKED -- Texas pro-life advocates hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will enforce a sonogram law over a federal judge's injunction.
On Aug. 30, federal Judge Sam Sparks of Austin, Texas, blocked enforcement of primary sections of a new state law that requires a doctor to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion, display the image and play an audio of the unborn baby's heartbeat for her, and provide a description of the child's physical features, according to the Southern Baptist Texan. The law was to take effect Sept. 1.
The law violates the freedom of speech of both doctors and patients, Sparks said. It "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen," he wrote, the Texan reported.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed to the Fifth Circuit, asking the appeals court to reinstate the law while the legal process continues, according to the report.
Gov. Rick Perry, who signed the bill into law in May, expressed his displeasure with Sparks' ruling.
"Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy and today's ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life," Perry said in a written statement. "This important sonogram legislation ensures that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying, and understands the devastating impact of such a life-changing decision."
LA. CLOSES CLINIC -- The Louisiana state government has shut down a New Orleans-area abortion clinic after repeated health and safety violations.
Bruce Greenstein, secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), ordered Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women to cease operations Sept. 6. DHH revoked the clinic's license twice between January 2010 and May 2011 for failing to meet minimum standards. Another inspection of the clinic Aug. 29 found violations regarding sanitary conditions, as well as nursing and pharmaceutical services.
"Fundamentally, this is about the health and safety of women, first and foremost," Greenstein said in a written release. "No one should have to face these kinds of conditions regardless of the medical services they are seeking. Enough is enough. I will do everything in my power to keep this place closed."
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.