Washington D.C., Jul 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The progress of pro-life legislation at the state level this year has made the 2013 the second-best year on record for the number of abortion-regulating laws that have passed by mid-year.
State legislators enacted 43 provisions restricting abortion in the first half of 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which support legalized abortion. The group said in a July 8 analysis that this number is up slightly from the same period in 2012 when 39 provisions were enacted, but down from an all-time high of 80 recorded in 2011.
Debate over abortion regulation has made headlines in 2013 due partly to the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted on charges including malpractice and the murder of babies who were born alive following failed abortions in his clinic.
Arkansas legislators in March overrode a Democratic governor’s veto of a bill that bars most abortion after 12 weeks into pregnancy, on the basis that that is the time when a fetal heartbeat can first be identified through an abdominal ultrasound.
Also in March, North Dakota legislators passed three pro-life bills. One bill bans abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It will take effect in August if it withstands legal challenges. Another bill bans abortions that target the unborn child on the basis of his or her sex or genetic abnormalities.
A third North Dakota bill requires any abortionist in the state to have admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital that allows abortions to take place in its facilities.
Alabama enacted similar requirements. Seven states now have these laws, though two states face legal challenges over them.
Alabama now requires surgical abortion clinics to have the same standards of care as ambulatory surgical centers, joining 25 other states with similar laws.
Indiana in 2013 extended these standards to clinics that perform medication-based abortions.
Four states – Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi – enacted laws barring the remote “telemedicine” dispensing of abortion medication. Twelve states now have similar legislation.
The Arkansas and Pennsylvania legislatures voted to limit abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges created by the 2010 federal health care legislation, bringing the total of these state laws to 22.
A new Indiana law requires a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound, while Ohio now requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an external exam to determine whether a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Kansas and Montana have passed laws protecting physicians from lawsuits stemming from claims that their acts or omissions contributed to a mother not aborting a child with disabilities.
The state of Ohio has barred public hospitals from making transfer agreements with abortion clinics, including emergency situations. The provision could mean that women suffering complications during abortions will face more difficulty receiving treatment.
The number of pro-life bills passed in the first half of 2013 was bolstered on Friday, July 12, when the Texas Senate passed a bill barring most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and increasing standards for abortion clinics.
The bill was introduced in the state House last week during a special session, as it was not voted on in the final hours of the normal legislative session due to a Democratic filibuster and disruption from pro-choice activists.
The bill had passed in the Texas House before it was considered by the upper legislative body, and it is expected to be signed shortly by governor Rick Perry, who called the special session to consider the bill.
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his first Angelus message from Castel Gandolfo, Pope Francis said God desires “good and generous” hearts full of mercy for those in need.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, said Pope Francis, “Jesus shows that the heart of this Samaritan is good and generous and that – unlike the priest and Levite – he practices the will of God, who desires mercy more than sacrifice.”
“God always wants this: mercy,” added the Pope, expanding on his prepared remarks. “God well knows our pain, our difficulties, and even our sins! (Yet) he gives us his merciful heart. And this – what the Samaritan did – shows God’s own compassion: mercy towards those who are in need.”
Pope Francis linked the parable to the crowd of around 5,000 pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo by recalling St. Camillo de Lellis, founder of the Order of Ministers to the Sick and patron of the sick and healthcare workers, whose feast day is July 14.
“With great affection I greet all the spiritual sons and daughters of St. Camillo, who live his charism of charity in daily contact with the sick. You are like good Samaritans!” he said.
Pope Francis also recalled the 70th anniversary of the Volonia massacre in which tens of thousands of Poles and thousands of Ukrainians were killed.
“I entrust the souls of the victims to the mercy of God and ask for their peoples, the grace of a profound reconciliation and a serene future in hope and in the sincere collaboration for the common building of the Kingdom of God.”
He closed with a greeting to the various groups there, and as is his custom, wished everyone a “good lunch.”
The Pope delivered his remarks from the doorway of the papal residence in Castel Gandalfo, where crowds of cheering pilgrims and locals were gathered.
Unlike his recent predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II, Francis will not remain at the papal villa for the summer.
Instead, he will continue to live in Rome’s hotter climate, but with a limited schedule. All public and private audiences have been cancelled for July and August.
Before his Angelus remarks, Pope Francis met with the staff of the papal residence in order to thank them for their work and ask for their continued prayers. He exhorted them to “be signs of hope and peace” in the world, like Benedict XVI and John Paul II, who stayed in Castel Gandolfo every summer.
“Their testimony,” he stated, “will always be an encouragement in daily fidelity to Christ and the continuous efforts to conduct a life consistent with the demands of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.”
Pope Francis will return to Castel Gandolfo on August 15 to celebrate the Mass for the Feast of the Assumption in a local parish. At noon on the same day, he will deliver the Angelus from the papal residence.