3/1/2013 - March 2013 SLI Educational Update - 2013 Alabama Legislative Session - Initial Report
AN EDUCATIONAL UPDATE FROM
THE SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™, INC.
To: SLI Supporters
Date: March 2013
From: A. Eric Johnston
Re: 2013 Alabama Legislative Session – Initial Report
SLI has drafted or been principally responsible for drafting a number of bills which we have explained to legislators and in public hearings before committees. There are some bills with which we have concerns and hopefully, will be able to satisfactorily amend those bills or otherwise explain why the bills would not be good public policy. Here are some of the bills:
HB57 (McClurkin) and SB130 (Beason) – The Woman’s Health and Safety Act – The purpose of this bill is to bring abortion clinic standards up to the same as those we expect in our own personal physician’s offices. The bill requires among other things that only a physician may perform an abortion, he must remain on the premises until all patients are discharged and he must have staff privileges at a local hospital. Clinic procedures must be under the supervision of a registered professional nurse at all times. Patient care must meet the same standard of care as provided in other medical disciplines, including ambulatory healthcare occupancy, life safety codes, moderate sedation procedures, etcetera. Abortion inducing drugs may only be prescribed after an in-person visit with a physician, and may not be prescribed over the internet. Reporting of underage girls who fall within the statutory rape guidelines is mandated. Violation of each of these procedures will result in criminal punishment to physicians, administrators and others. This bill passed the House and it is expected to be passed by the Senate Health Committee on March 6.
HB108 (Greer) – The Religious Liberty Act of 2013 – We refer to this bill as the “Hobby Lobby bill.” As you recall, Hobby Lobby is being forced by Obamacare to pay for contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs through insurance premiums for employees. A federal court ruled that as a corporation, the owners of Hobby Lobby where not entitled to their free exercise of religion rights. The courts cited no evidence for its authority, but ruled against religious freedom. This bill provides that small employers in Alabama, no matter what type of business entity they are, as well as churches and religious institutions, will enjoy protection of their religious liberty rights and may not be forced to pay for contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs. This bill passed the House and it is expected to be passed by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on March 6.
SB251 (Ward) and HB354 (Weaver) – Healthcare Conscience Act – This bill protects employees from discrimination for refusing to do abortions, sterilizations, embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. It had a slow start, but has a chance of passage.
SB___ and HB178 (Ball) - This bill would legalize midwifery. While we have never taken a position on midwifery, our concern is that we apply the same standards of healthcare that we expect in the sanctity of life context. The Woman’s Health and Safety Act above is meant to protect women’s healthcare in the abortion context. Similarly, we would expect nonmedical and limited trained midwives to reach a proper standard of care in order not to harm women or their unborn children. For us to state otherwise would be inconsistent. More importantly, we are concerned that in a number of states and countries midwives also perform abortions. The legislation must have a very strong prohibition against midwives performing abortions.
SB4 (Allen) and HB ___ (Jones) – The American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Act – This bill provides that Alabama courts may not use foreign laws, such as the European Union, other countries, cultural codes, etcetera, in Alabama courts that would deprive Alabama citizens of their protected constitutional rights. We have seen the U.S. Supreme Court violate these concepts in capital punishment and anti-sodomy cases. We also have seen courts in domestic situations applying religious codes, like Sharia law, to the detriment of individual rights. We are seeing many states pass laws, such as same sex marriage and marijuana legalization, that would violate Alabama’s public policy if enforced here. Cases have been filed here to enforce some of those tlaws. This constitutional amendment would forbid the foreign law or sister state law from being applied in Alabama courts if it violates our constitutional rights or our public policy. This bill has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is expected to be considered by the Senate on March 5 or 7.
SB190 (Brewbaker) and HB254 (Barton) - In this bill the Legislature removes common core standards from being taught in Alabama schools and limits the use of student personal data. Common core is an effort by the U.S. Department of Education and others to enforce in state and local schools certain requirements of teaching. Testimony has time and time again found these methods are not in the best interest of students. We have reviewed these bills for constitutionally and content. We believe that it is constitutional for the Legislature to direct the Department of Education in matters of this magnitude. Common core standards are another example of social mechanics at a national level trying to dictate to states in disregard of local rights and proper standards. “Data mining” has become a pervasive activity in the age of the internet.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR – Prolife Legislative Day at the Alabama State House will be Tuesday, March 5, 2013 from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. There will be a rally on the State House steps at 11:30 a.m. with pro-life leaders and legislators. Please plan to attend.
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