This year's legislative sessions have seen numerous states approve measures designed to protect unborn children, especially in the last half of pregnancy; bring accountability to abortion providers; and protect citizens from having to fund abortions with their taxes.
In some of the most recent actions, according to reports by news media and pro-life organizations:
-- The Minnesota Senate passed May 16 both a ban on abortions after 20 weeks' gestation based on scientific evidence a baby in the womb experiences pain by that point and a prohibition on state funding of elective abortions. The House of Representatives already has approved both bills.
Idaho, Kansas and Oklahoma already this year have enacted laws prohibiting pain-capable abortions. Last year, Nebraska became the first state to adopt such a ban.
-- The Missouri Legislature forwarded May 12 to Gov. Jay Nixon a bill that would bar abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the unborn child is not considered viable. Both houses passed the ban with veto-proof majorities.
-- The Pennsylvania House approved in a 148-43 roll call May 11 a bill that would institute stronger restrictions on abortion clinics. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law May 16 a measure tightening requirements for abortion clinics.
The legislative action came in the wake of the murder charges brought in January against abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in the deaths of a 41-year-old patient and seven fully delivered babies whose spinal cords were severed with scissors at his clinic in West Philadelphia. A raid of the Women's Medical Society, Gosnell's clinic, found it in horrifying condition, with the remains of 45 infants stored in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons and cat-food containers, according to a grand jury report. The clinic was shut down.
-- Kansas and Nebraska both completed legislative work the week of May 8-14 on bills to bar private insurance plans from covering abortion without a separate rider paid for by the individual and to enable the states to opt out of abortion coverage in the health exchanges established by last year's health-care reform law. Both measures are going to pro-life governors who are expected to sign them.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry signed into law May 17 legislation authorizing the production of Choose Life auto license plates. Funds from sale of the plates will help support pregnancy help centers.
Pro-lifers met defeat May 12 on a proposal in Montana. Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed legislation requiring a girl under the age of 18 to notify her parents before having an abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued companion opinions legalizing abortion in 1973, thereby establishing a regime that permitted the procedure for effectively any reason throughout pregnancy.
RU 486 RISKS GREATER -- Women whose abortions are performed with the drug RU 486 are more likely to have complications that result in treatment at hospital emergency rooms than those undergoing surgical abortions, a new Australian study found.
Research on almost 7,000 abortions performed in 2009 and 2010 in South Australia showed 3.3 percent of women using RU 486 in the first trimester went to emergency rooms as opposed to 2.2 percent who had surgical abortions, The Australian reported May 7.
In the case of second-trimester abortions by RU 486, complications took place in as much as 33 percent of the cases examined, according to the report.
RU 486, also known as mifepristone, is used as the first part in a two-step process designed to be used in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Mifepristone causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in his death. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby.
ABORTION DRUG DEATH -- A 16-year-old Portuguese girl has died of an infection caused by use of the abortion drug RU 486, LifeNews.com reported May 16.
Around the world, there have been 32 confirmed deaths of women who have taken RU 486, according to the Italian Ministry of Health. At least eight have occurred in the United States, which approved the drug for sale in 2000.
The Portuguese girl's death, which resulted from septic shock, was reported in a study abstract submitted at an infectious disease conference May 7-10 in Milan, Italy, according to LifeNews.
ASSISTED SUICIDE BAN NIXED -- Citizens of the Swiss canton of Zurich soundly defeated May 15 an initiative to prohibit assisted suicide. They also rejected a measure to ban foreigners from undergoing the lethal procedure in their state.
The votes were 85 percent in opposition to the assisted-suicide ban and 78 percent against the prohibition on nonresidents, according to The Telegraph.
Dignitas, an assisted-suicide clinic located in Zurich, has become known internationally as a destination for those from other countries seeking aid in killing themselves.
About 40 percent of those who committed suicide in Switzerland from 2005 to 2009 were from other countries, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.
Switzerland allows physician-assisted suicide for those with a terminal illness.
TAIWANESE GIRLS LOST -- Illegal sex-selection abortions may have cost Taiwan as many as 3,000 female babies last year, a government official said May 15.
Chiu Shu-ti, director-general of Taiwan's Bureau of Health Promotion, made the estimate after his department learned of a vast gender imbalance in births last year. The bureau found 10 of 11 babies delivered in a New Taipei City clinic were boys and 9 of 10 children born in a Taipei City hospital were males, according to an Agence France-Presse report of a United Daily News article.
Government authorities suspect physicians at the health-care facilities performed illegal abortions based on parents' decisions following ultrasounds that showed their babies were girls, according to the report. Male preference is common on the Pacific Ocean island, as it is in some other Asian countries.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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