Pro-life proponents and evangelical Christians certainly have had some ups and downs of late. They’ve had good reason to be thankful on the state legislative front. Yet, on the national scene, efforts to defund Planned Parenthood were thwarted.
Republicans and Democrats in Kentucky resolved a stalemate over an informed consent bill by allowing physicians to consult with patients either face-to-face or by a live video feed. The first pro-life bill passed in more than a decade effectively closes a loophole by which some doctors reportedly bypassed the apparent intent of the law by offering pre-recorded messages.
The wisdom of requiring live interactions should be obvious. Women are afforded an opportunity to consult with a doctor and ask appropriate questions regarding personal risks and benefits before undergoing a medical procedure. Why should anyone object? Furthermore, an objection that the law might place an undue burden on patients from rural areas was removed by new technology that makes video chats possible via the Internet. Anytime partisan politics is set aside to do what is ethically right and promotes the general welfare of the state’s citizens, we should commend our senators and representatives.
Gov. Matt Bevin kept his word and was quick to sign the informed consent bill—his first since taking of-fice—and merits the appreciation of Kentucky Baptists. He also put a prompt halt to abortions being performed at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Louisville. Whether or not Planned Parenthood received permission from the previous administra-tion, the fact that an unlicensed clinic would apparently place women at greater risk by performing abortions without appropriating agreements to provide ambulance services and hospital care in the event that unforeseen complications arose is unconscionable, if not wanton endangerment.
In the latest development, the Ken-tucky Cabinet for Health and Family Ser-vices has filed a lawsuit against the Planned Parenthood facility for allegedly performing 23 abortions without a license. “We will hold Planned Parenthood accounta-ble for knowingly endangering their pa-tients by providing illegal abortions at a facility that was not properly licensed nor prepared to handle an emergency,” Bevin stated. The lawsuit seeks maximum fines being imposed on Planned Parenthood “for its callous and knowing violations.”
The Kentucky Senate also passed SB7, a pro-life bill that would cut taxpayer support of Planned Parenthood. Redirecting taxpayer dollars to health providers that do not perform abortions should be a high priority for Kentucky Baptists in promoting the sanctity of human life. In the House, the bill received a first reading and was sent to its Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
Then, in response to the jailing of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the Senate approved SB5 which would create two marriage license forms—one for same-sex couples and another for traditional cou-ples—without the names of the county clerks. One license would designate the bride and groom; the other, first and second party. Both will require applicants to note their genders. The House Speaker, however, has indicated that the House will likely pass its own version.
“We are content to see the process work and look forward to an end result that provides for the effective and efficient issuance of marriage licenses in all counties of the Commonwealth,” said KBC lobbyist Tom Troth, “while at the same time providing for an accommodation to people of faith, like the clerks, who wish to exercise their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding the issuance of those licenses.”
Meanwhile, a school superintendent attempted to rewrite a Christmas holiday classic by removing biblical references. A public school in Johnson County was told to censure its performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles Schulz by omitting Linus’ quotes from Luke. “We stand with Linus,” quipped Martin Cochran of The Family Foundation, in supporting a bill intended to protect the religious freedom of our children. “When schools start seeing a cartoon character quoting the Bible as a threat, then things have obviously gone too far,” he added.
“Senate Bill 15 is a statutory codification of current court rulings allowing for personal religious expression in the public school system,” said Troth, who also is pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Frankfort. “It is not an attempt to expand upon those important rights, but to reaffirm those rights that already exist under the law, which is a good thing.”
Though we would be disconcerted if school officials and teachers, as authority figures in the classroom, began proselytizing for their various faith groups, Baptists have always been strong advocates of religious freedom. This bill would provide basic protections for all our students, including Christians, from the virulent secularism that increasingly encroaches upon their First Amendment freedoms. As this bill advances, we should encourage due consideration.