Our Position on Incremental Legislation:
Many pro-life advocates disagree about whether or not to support pro-life legislation which does not completely ban all abortion, but instead provides some incremental approach to limiting abortion. The reality is that we are doing both. The decisions of the United State Supreme Court to make abortion legal through the Roe v Wade ruling in 1973 and subsequent rulings since make it impossible for states to ban abortion completely since it took it out of the jurisdiction of the states to do anything but regulate the practice of abortion, and allows them to ban it only after the point of viability in an unborn child's gestation (roughly starting at 20 weeks). There have been many attempts to overturn the Roe v Wade and subsequent decisions, but the current makeup of the Supreme Court has prevented these attempts from being successful.
Right to Life of Northeast Ohio is selective in the pro-life legislation that we do support. We WILL NOT support any incremental legislation that will ban or place limits on abortion if it has exceptions in it for the children conceived through rape or incest, or exceptions for children with fetal abnormalities/disabilities (such as the national Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act). In those cases, we push for the removal of the exception language.
We do recognize that all incremental legislation is flawed in that it does not save the lives of the unborn before 20 weeks, and this is heartbreaking. At the same time, we strongly disagree with those who state that incremental legislation is only regulating the murder of unborn children. We KNOW that incremental legislation that we have supported has saved lives, and it has lessened a portion of the evils or harmful effects of that standing unjust law that is legal abortion. We have listened and disagree with those who say that incremental legislation is unprincipled and against God's law, because we have seen those lives who God has helped us to save because of the incremental legislation. We believe that EVERY child has a God given right to life, and we cannot stand by and let them ALL die when we know that we can save some of them while we are hard at work trying to save them all.
"Passing incremental legislation often represents the most sensible approach to dealing with poorly crafted or morally problematic pieces of legislation. In the absence of needed votes to overturn harmful legislation altogether, it is still possible to make significant progress in limiting the damage that these laws can do through the patient spadework of incremental legislative revision. This is done with an eye towards one day being able to rescind or abrogate the unjust law altogether." Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D (To read the full article where this statement was made, click here.)
The other reality is that legislation is only a small part of our mission at Right to Life of Northeast Ohio. By IRS non-profit rules and regulations, we are limited in the amount of time, energy and money that we are permitted to spend on political or legislative activities. Because of this, we are very selective in what prospective legislation we will support, and choose to spend any limited funds and time only on legislation which we are certain according to our legal expert's opinion can survive a court challenge. (SPECIAL NOTE: Should a law pass in Ohio and be challenged, the Ohio Attorney General is obliged to defend the law in court, which can be very expensive. Should the law NOT survive the challenge, the state very often must pay the legal costs of the challenge to the opposing side, thereby giving money to the pro-abortion side.) We choose to remain neutral on any legislation which we believe cannot withstand a court challenge in order to preserve our resources for other legislation. Our main focus is on education and advocacy in order to bring about a positive change to the culture of life. We believe that we must change the hearts and minds of abortion minded individuals through these education and advocacy efforts so that even if we are unsuccessful in our legislative efforts, we will be successful in helping to change the culture so that people will understand the evil of abortion and all other threats to human life and that abortion clinics will close because there will be no customers. This is where the bulk of our time and energy goes, and where we have seen the most positive changes occurring with our mission.
The following is a list of some of the legislation we are watching being considered both in the Ohio and national legislatures:
STATE OF OHIO
The following are some of the legislative initiatives or prospective legislation affecting pro-life advocacy being considered by the state government during the 132nd general assembly:
ABORTION TRAFFICKING PREVENTION ACT — HB149 would prohibit fetal tissue trafficking. Federal law currently bans this practice, but a loophole allows tissue traffickers to compensate abortion clinics for services related to the trafficking of fetal tissue, including storage and transportation. This bill would make the exchange of any form of compensation for fetal tissue or organs illegal, and would make the activity a fourth degree felony. This bill is currently in the House Health committee. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
UNBORN CHILD DIGNITY ACT — SB28 requires that aborted fetal remains be treated humanely following an abortion. The legislation is two-pronged. The first part requires that aborted children's remains be either given earthly burial or cremation. The second part is Unborn Dignity Informed Consent, which increases informed consent by requiring full disclosure to women pursuing abortions of their options for the aborted baby's treatment. This bill is currently in the Senate Government Oversight & Reform committee. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
The following legislation is currently being drafted by various organizations and sponsors, but has not yet been introduced:
HEARTBEAT BILL — This bill is purported to be a re-introduction of a previous version. It would generally prohibit an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat and would create the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support. This bill passed the House on 3/25/15 and moved to the senate where it did not progress. In December, a heartbeat amendment was added to HB493, a child abuse reporting bill. The entire bill passed the house but because the heartbeat amendment was subject to a line item veto because of the bill containing budget appropriations, it was vetoed by the governor. This was probably due to the probable unconstitutionality of the bill since it defies a very immoral and horrible federal law and stood little chance of being enacted or upheld by the courts. No heartbeat legislation passed in other states has been able to survive a court challenge. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio will remain neutral on this bill. For more detailed information, please contact RTLNEO Executive Director Denise Leipold.
DOWN SYNDROME NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT — This bill is purported to be a re-introduction of a previous version and would prohibits abortions from taking place on the basis of a Down's Syndrome diagnosis. This bill was introduced in the house where it died at the end of the 2015/16 legislative session. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
DISMEMBERMENT ABORTION BAN — The legislation would prohibit the highly popular dilation and evacuation abortions, a procedure in which the abortionist first dilates the woman’s cervix and then uses steel instruments to dismember and extract the baby from the uterus. Like partial-birth abortion, dismemberment abortion is a brutal procedure which literally rips the child limb from limb. In Gonzales v. Carhart, the Supreme Court said, "No one would dispute that, for many, D & E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.” Seven other states have passed dismemberment abortion bans, with more working on them in 2017. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
PARENTING AND PREGNANCY SUPPORT PROGRAM — Ohio has nearly 200 pregnancy help centers and maternity homes that assist women in crisis pregnancies with the support they need to have their child, often helping mothers, fathers, and babies for years after birth. These centers are critical community staples which support women and positive birth outcomes - something that our state has given great care to promoting in light of our infant mortality crisis. As part of the last two biennial budgets, the state has provided $500,000 each year in grant programs available to Ohio's pregnancy help centers. We are once again requesting these funds be made available in the biennial budget. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this provision.
ABORTION INDUCING DRUGS SAFETY ACT — This legislation would require abortion-inducing drugs to be administered in accordance with “the protocol tested and authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration as outlined in the final printed label of the abortion-inducing drug.” Texas passed a similar law in 2013, and it has been upheld by the federal courts. Currently, Mifeprex (mifepristone) is the only such drug labeled for the purpose of inducing abortion in the United States. Although the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol is still the most common drug regimen used in chemical abortions, Ohio has seen a significant increase in the number of chemical abortions using other drugs like methotrexate, a drug labeled for use as a chemotherapy agent. Because there should be no room for compromise when administering drugs out of context that can be and are harmful to a woman's health, Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
The following are some of the legislative initiatives or prospective legislation affecting pro-life advocacy being considered by the federal government during the 115th congress:
DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACT — HR354 prohibits, for a one-year period, the availability of federal funds for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates or clinics, unless they certify that the affiliates and clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion during such period. This restriction does not apply in cases of rape or incest or where a physical condition endangers a woman's life unless an abortion is performed. HR354 is currently in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio does not actively support this bill unless the rape and incest exceptions are removed.
PROTECT FUNDING FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH CARE ACT — S241 prohibits federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America or its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics. It further states that State and county health departments, community health centers, hospitals, physicians offices, and other entities currently provide, and will continue to provide, health services to women. Such health services include relevant diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, well-child care, prenatal and postpartum care, immunization, family planning services including contraception, sexually transmitted disease testing, cervical and breast cancer screenings, and referrals. Many such entities provide services to all persons, regardless of the person’s ability to pay, and provide services in medically underserved areas and to medically underserved populations. All funds no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be made available to other eligible entities to provide women’s health care services. HR241 is currently in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
PRENATAL NONDISCRIMINATION ACT (PRENDA)— HR147 imposes criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly or knowingly attempts to: (1) perform an abortion knowing that the abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent; (2) use force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection abortion; (3) solicit or accept funds for the performance of such an abortion; or (4) transport a woman into the United States or across a state line for the purpose of obtaining such an abortion. HR354 is currently in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
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