DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN July 31-August 2, 1998 vol. 9, no. 149
NEWS & VIEWS
COURT REFUSES INJUNCTION AGAINST VIRGINIA ABORTION BAN, HOUSE UPHOLDS BAN ON HOMOSEXUAL FUNDING, AND CONGRESS ASSERTS INSURANCE COMPANIES TO FUND CONTRACEPTIVES
RICHMOND, Virginia (CWNews.com) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that Virginia's ban on partial-birth abortions will remain in effect while a legal challenge proceeds through the courts.
The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request for a temporary injunction by the abortion clinics and abortionists contesting the constitutionality of the law approved earlier this year. The lawsuit, which claims the law is vague, goes to trial on August 18. The ruling is the first time a federal appeals court allowed the law to remain in effect while it is being challenged.
A state lawyer said the law is easy to understand and clearly states what procedures will trigger it. In partial-birth abortion, the abortionist delivers the baby through the birth canal, feet first, until only his head remains inside. He then pierces the baby's neck, suctions out his brain, collapses the head, and finishes delivering the now-dead baby
In Washington The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to ban the use of federal money to implement a homosexual rights ordinance in San Francisco that requires employers doing business with the city to provide health and other benefits to same-sex partners of employees.
The provision, sponsored by Rep. Frank Riggs, R-California, was narrowly approved 214-212 as an amendment to a wide-ranging appropriations bill, and must survive a House-Senate conference committee that will reconcile differences in funding bills. Riggs said the amendment protects private businesses and charities run by religious groups from being forced to adopt policies they find objectionable.
Critics said the bill is a "bigoted, mean-spirited attack" on homosexuals, and undermines local autonomy. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the city has negotiated with Catholic Charities and reached a compromise, which other businesses could also negotiate. But the Salvation Army has already shut down programs serving the needy rather than compromise its principles. "The Salvation Army, which refused to buckle to city policy, forfeited $3.5 million of its $18 million budget," said Riggs, because it didn't want to comply with the city ordinance.
The bad news was that the US Senate on Wednesday joined the House of Representatives in approving a bill that requires most heath insurance plans for federal employees to cover prescription contraceptives for women.
The measure, part of the $29.9 billion Treasury Department funding bill, was approved by a voice vote and a final vote on the overall bill was expected on Thursday. The provision's sponsors, Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said they hope this is only the first step to requiring all health insurance in the country to cover contraceptives. "This step sends a signal to insurers nationwide -- prescription contraceptive coverage is a long overdue provision for health plans," Snowe said after the vote.
The House approved a similar bill two weeks ago. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, and other Republicans said they decided against fighting the provision in the Senate because they have a better chance to block it when a House-Senate conference committee writes a compromise bill later this year. The newly-approved bill provides exceptions for health care plans that do not cover any prescriptions or plans run by religious groups that object to contraception, most notably the Catholic Church.
The Senate also approved an amendment by Sen. Mike DeWine,
R-Ohio, that bans the same health care programs from paying
for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to
the mother's life. A similar provision has been in place
every year since 1984, except in 1993 and 1994.
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS