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Will LGBT activists split the Methodists?

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 21:00

Washington D.C., Mar 29, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- While the United Methodist Church has reaffirmed traditional Christian teaching on controversial LGBT issues, some American leaders in the denomination have rejected that decision, and now are organizing either to resist the decision or split into a new denomination.

“In the weeks since, several small but powerful cadres of pastors and bishops have begun plotting paths to overturn or undermine the decision,” the Washington Post reported March 29.

One group of objectors has “a methodical, political-organizing-style plan for drawing others into their fight,” the Post said. Their meetings this week and next in Dallas and Atlanta will host 30 clergy and leaders, including seven LGBT leaders. Another 500 leaders will meet in May at a Kansas church. They hope to draw 5,000 Methodist leaders to a planned meeting this fall.

In a February 2019 Methodist leadership gathering in St. Louis, called the Special Session of the General Conference, Methodist delegates from around the world voted to reaffirm church teaching that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” They rejected same-sex unions and the ordination of sexually active homosexuals. Under the Traditional Plan, approved in a narrow vote, penalties were increased for ministers who attempt to perform a same-sex wedding.

That decision reflected global divisions and demographic shifts. American delegates largely rejected the plan, but it had strong support from delegates representing parts of the world where the denomination is fast growing, such as Africa. The continent is on track to add five new Methodist bishops and a fourth central conference starting in 2021, United Methodist News Service reports.

The United Methodist Church is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the U.S., where it has about 6 million members. It claims about 12 million members worldwide.

In reaction to the vote, some Methodist churches in the U.S. displayed rainbow banners or took out newspaper advertisements that voiced grief over the decision. Some individuals and leaders circulated letters, petitions and proposals for action. Some regional leadership groups, called conferences, will reportedly consider barring funding for hearing complaints, investigating and censuring violations of church law related to LGBTQ ordination or marriage.

Not all American Methodists objected to the decision.

“I believe we are watching the stages of grief play out before our eyes in the reaction of our brothers and sisters who wanted to see church teachings changed,” Rev. Chris Ritter, a traditionalist, told the United Methodist News Service.

Objectors will gather this May at the 20,000-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City suburb of Leawood, Kan., the largest Methodist church in the U.S.

“I’ve been astounded at the number of emails, phone calls, text messages I’m receiving from churches across the country saying we can’t live like this,” Rev. Adam Hamilton, the church’s pastor, told the Washington Post.

Hamilton described these churches as “centrist,” and said they felt the decision marked a change from “the United Methodism that we have always known and loved.”

“To be in a church that will be in the future led by the most conservative caucus in our denomination feels untenable for them,” said Hamilton.

The Reconciling Ministries Network is a major backer of LGBT advocacy within Methodism. It said 18 new churches and communities and more than 3,000 people have joined its ranks since the February general conference.

One member congregation in Columbus, Ohio, King Avenue United Methodist Church, put its denominational payments into escrow as a protest of the vote to uphold traditional Christian teachings on marriage and sexuality. Similar financial action came from another member congregation, Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, which has also covered the words “United Methodist” on its church sign.

LGBT advocacy within Christian denominations and churches has external support, such as the New York-based Arcus Foundation. Since 2011 the foundation has given $1.9 million in grants to the Reconciling Ministries Network, the foundation’s website says. It has also “backed pro-LGBT” church policy advocacy from the Methodist group Church Properties Reimagined, Inc.

Arcus-backed groups helped foster a split within the global Anglican Communion over homosexuality. The foundation is also a patron for  dissenting Catholic groups like Catholics for Choice, Dignity USA and the Equally Blessed Coalition. The foundation has funded LGBT advocacy groups in Africa and has been a partner to the U.S. State Department’s Global Equality Fund, established under President Obama, which acts to defend what it considers to be “the human rights and fundamental freedoms” of LGBT people.

United Methodist supporters of LGBT advocacy are not the only ones reporting more interest and reactions.

Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a traditionalist offshoot from mainline Methodism, told United Methodist News Service that his organization has also seen an “uptick” in membership and inquiries.

“The responses that have been on the traditional side have not been of the dramatic public expression — newspaper ads and those sorts of things,” Boyette said. Rather, the focus is on questions like “How can we continue to be invested in a church that is this broken?”

Hamilton said the American Methodists who disagree with the decision could split from the global domination, or work to resist it.

Resistance would probably be financial with large American churches halting their donations to the denomination, Hamilton told the Washington Post. This would be done out of hope it would result in an agreement to hold another LGBT vote at the 2020 global meeting. Delegates from Africa and Russia would have to agree to the new vote, and the American faction hopes they would acquiesce in order to preserve funding for mission projects.

An alternative could be that all American Methodists of various beliefs, including backers of Methodist teaching who would prefer a separation, vote in favor of a split into two denominations.
The denomination’s judicial council must reconsider the constitutionality of a disaffiliation plan approved at the recent global gathering – a plan it previously ruled unconstitutional.

United Methodists in Norway and Denmark are considering responses that might include leaving the denomination as a last resort. The executive committee of Germany’s United Methodists unanimously approved a statement calling the traditional plan’s stipulations “not acceptable for our church.”

David Reed, a traditionalist lay leader with the Methodists’ Memphis Conference who chaired its delegation to the general conference’s special session, said leaders on both sides are saying “we’ve got to find a way not to continue to work in conflict with each other.”

Some clergy have pledged to disobey church teaching despite increased penalties, while others advise only following the letter of the law.

Bishop Kenneth Carter of Florida, who had backed the proposed One Church Plan to allow local changes to church practice on ordination and marriage, is discouraging pastors from witnessing vows or signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the Washington Post said. At the same time, he is encouraging pastors to give premarital counseling or take part in those ceremonies by reading Scripture, giving communion or delivering the sermon.

Texas AG investigating potential discrimination against Chick-fil-A

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 20:00

San Antonio, Texas, Mar 29, 2019 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating the San Antonio City Council for potential First Amendment violations. The council voted last week to disinvite Chick-fil-A from opening a store in the city-owned airport based on the religious beliefs of Chick-fil-A’s executives.

San Antonio Councilman Roberto Treviño on March 21 offered an amendment to a contract with a concessions company at the San Antonio International Airport that removed the nationwide chain of chicken restaurants from the plans, stating that he objected to the company’s “history of donating to organizations that oppose LGBTQ rights,” according to the San Antonio Express News.

Paxton announced March 28 that he had sent a letter informing the mayor and city council members that he is opening an investigation into the council’s decision.

“The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance,” Paxton said in his statement.

“It’s discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law.”

Paxton says he also requested, by separate letter, that United States Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao open an investigation into the City of San Antonio’s potential violation of federal law and Transportation Department regulations.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio reportedly sided with Councilman Treviño in opposing Chick-fil-A, but argued that the chicken restaurant should be excluded because, in part, the chain is closed on Sundays and it is not a local restaurant, the San Antonio Express News reports.

One San Antonio councilman, Greg Brockhouse, sent a letter to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy on March 26 apologizing for the decision, saying that “in spite of this decision, San Antonio is a welcoming City that values diversity, faith, and inclusivity,” and noting that Chick-fil-A “employs and serves everyone, without prejudice, discrimination, or hate.”

In a separate, similar case, a concessionaire at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York canceled plans to build a new Chick-fil-A franchise yesterday after previously announcing that Chick-fil-A would anchor a new restaurant area there.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan was quoted as saying in the Buffalo News that "a publicly financed not the appropriate venue for a Chick-fil-A restaurant.”

Though Chick-fil-A is an equal opportunity employer, controversy over its supposed LGBT opposition stems from the organization’s financial support, through two nonprofit arms, for a number of Christian charitable organizations, several of which publicly affirm support for the Christian view of marriage.

Some of the largest beneficiaries of Chick-fil-A’s donations in the past few years have been highlighted and branded “anti-gay” by LGBT advocacy groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Chick-fil-A operates two nonprofit organizations— the Chick-Fil-A foundation and the WinShape Foundation— through which it distributes donations and grants. In fiscal year 2017, Chick-fil-A distributed $9.9 million in donations through the Chick-fil-A foundation, or less than 0.1 percent of the company’s $9 billion annual revenue.

The WinShape Foundation primarily funds marriage retreats as well as youth camps and foster homes, according to tax documents.

According to the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s 990 tax form for fiscal year 2016, the Georgia-based nonprofit donated to more than 250 organizations across the country, including the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, a Georgia refugee support group, and a Georgia Catholic high school.

Most of the groups receiving donations are focused on community, family, or youth support, and much of their work is nonpolitical in nature.

The donations range from just $125 to an Atlanta organization that helps families transition out of homelessness, to nearly $1.6 million donated to various chapters of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in 2017.

FCA is a Kansas City, Missouri-based Christian organization that organizes sports camps and Bible studies for young athletes. FCA’s Statement of Faith, among other Scripture-based tenets, affirms the Christian view of marriage.

“God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman,” it reads.

“We believe that God created all human beings in His image. Therefore, we believe that human life is sacred from conception to its natural end; that we must honor the physical and spiritual needs of all people; following Christ’s example, we believe that every person should be treated with love, dignity and respect,” the statement continues.

Another oft-cited “anti-LGBT” organization is the Salvation Army, a Christian organization deicated to helping the poor, which recieved $150,000 from Chick-fil-A in 2017, making it possible to provide Christmas gifts to “11,000 children in need throughout the Atlanta area,” Chick-fil-A says.

“To suggest that our efforts in supporting these organizations was focused on suppressing a group of people is misleading and inaccurate,” the company has stated.

“It is well-known that our Founder S. Truett Cathy used biblical principles to guide our business in its formative stages, and that we still uphold those same principles today.”

Media and activist scrutiny of Chick-fil-A heated up in 2012, when company president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy, an outspoken Christian and son of the late founder, gave an interview to the Baptist Press and expressed his support for a traditional view of marriage, based on his Christian faith.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy told the Baptist Press.

“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy said.

The Chick-fil-A Foundation did not respond to CNA’s media request by press time.

Underground bishop, vicar general detained in China's Hebei province

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 19:01

Xuanhua, China, Mar 29, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- A bishop of the underground Church in China's Hebei province and his vicar general were placed in detention this week, and a lay Catholic activist was jailed in Hong Kong.

According to UCA News, Coadjutor Bishop Augustine Cui Tai of Xuanhua and his vicar general, Father Zhang Jianlin, were detained by officials of Hebei province this week.

“The government’s aim is to paralyze the diocese. If the diocese fails to manage the community, then the government will use this as an opportunity to take it over,” an anonymous priest from the underground Church told UCA News.

According to the UCA News, the bishop had been taken in custody the morning of March 29 after he received a text message in regards to his arrest. He had also been detained for indoctrination in April last year and was recently released in January.

UCA News reported that Father Zhang was seized March 28 for violating a traveling restriction. Since his identity papers were confiscated, the priest has not been allowed to travel even to a neighboring city.

In November two of Bishop Cui's priests, Fr. Su Guipeng and Fr. Zhao He, were abducted to be “indoctrinated on the religious policy of the Chinese government … because they refuse to enroll in the Patriotic Association.” Two priests of the Diocese of Chongli-Xiwanzi, also in Hebei, were also taken.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Yip Po-lam, a member of the Justice Peace Commission of the Diocese of Hong Kong, was jailed March 28. A court had refused to hear an appeal regarding a conviction she received five years ago for disturbing the peace during a protest.

The peaceful demonstrations were protesting the controversial Northeast New Territories Development Plan, which displaced villagers and damaged property. Chairman of the Hong Kong Catholic Institution Staff Association, Alexander Yu, decried the court’s decision, stating Yip had acted justly, according to UCA News.

“We agree with Yip’s action as her motives were genuine when calling on the general public to examine the injustices of the development plan,” he said. “The social teaching of the Catholic Church points out that our love for neighbors urges us to seek social justice.”

The Church in mainland China has been divided for some 60 years between the underground Church, which is persecuted and whose episcopal appointments are frequently not acknowledged by Chinese authorities, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a government-sanctioned organization.

In September 2018 the Holy See and Beijing reached an agreement meant to normalize the situation of China’s Catholics and to unify the underground Church and the CPCA.

The agreement has been roundly criticized by human rights groups and some Church leaders, including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong.

In December, two bishops of the underground Catholic Church agreed to step aside in favor of bishops of the CPCA, in the wake of the September agreement.

One test of the result of the Holy See-Beijing agreement may be the appointment of a bishop to the Diocese of Jining (Wumeng) in Inner Mongolia.

The South China Morning Post reported March 29 that the diocese is nearing its selection of episcopal candidates, making it the first time that the Vatican and Beijing might agree on a bishop appointment since the September 2018 accord.

Religious freedom is officially guaranteed by the Chinese constitution, but religious groups must register with the government, and are overseen by the Chinese Communist Party. The Sinicization of religion has been pushed by President Xi Jinping, who took power in 2013 and who has strengthened government oversight of religious activities.

In 2017, Xi said that religions not sufficiently conformed to communist ideals pose a threat to the country’s government, and therefore must become more “Chinese-oriented.” Since he took power, crosses have been removed from an estimated 1,500 church buildings.

Reports of the destruction or desecration of Catholic churches and shrines have come from across China, including the provinces of Hebei, Henan, Guizhou, Shaanxi, and Shandong.

The US Commission on International Religion wrote in its 2018 report that last year China “advanced its so-called 'sinicization' of religion, a far-reaching strategy to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold infused with 'Chinese characteristics.'” Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners have all been affected.

Texas bishops praise delayed execution of prisoner denied Buddhist chaplain

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 17:30

Washington D.C., Mar 29, 2019 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, which represents the state’s 32 bishops, issued a statement on Friday praising the Supreme Court’s decision to delay the execution of Patrick Murphy. Murphy, a Buddhist, was denied access to a Buddhist minister during his scheduled execution.


“The Catholic bishops of Texas applaud the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution of Patrick Henry Murphy since he did not have access to a spiritual director of his faith,” said the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.


“Our country was founded on the rights of each individual to exercise his faith, regardless of whether in prison or in a church. May Mr. Murphy find peace and wise counsel in his search for purity and truth,” they said.


Murphy’s execution had been scheduled for Thursday. One month prior to his execution date, he requested the presence of his spiritual advisor in the execution chamber. His request was denied, as the Buddhist minister is not an employee of the prison. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice only employs Christian and Muslim chaplains.


Seven Supreme Court justices agreed that Murphy’s rights had been violated and that his execution should be stayed. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch did not join the majority opinion.


Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Court’s newest member, authored a concurring opinion explaining why the Texas Department of Criminal Justice had violated Murphy’s rights.


Kavanaugh said that that allowing only Christian and Muslim ministers to be present with death row inmates in the execution chamber was discriminatory, suggesting that a more just resolution would be that no chaplains be permitted in the execution chamber and instead they be allowed to sit in the viewing area.


"What the State may not do, in my view, is allow Christian or Muslim inmates but not Buddhist inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion in the execution room,” said Kavanaugh.


Murphy was sentenced to death for his role in the murder of Officer Aubrey Hawkins on Christmas Eve, 2000.


Murphy, who had escaped from prison 11 days earlier, together with six other inmates known collectively as the ‘Texas 7,’ was present at the scene of a robbery in Irving, TX. Murphy remained inside the car, listening to a police scanner, and warned the others when the police were coming to the scene. Murphy was directed to leave the scene by the other members of the group who were robbing the store, and he left.


Hawkins, an off-duty police officer who came across the robbery, was shot 11 times by other members of the group, and then run over with a stolen car. Murphy was neither present for nor aware of Hawkins’ death until afterwards.


Six of the “Texas 7” were captured one month later, in Colorado. The seventh member of the group died by suicide before the police could arrest him. All were sentenced to death for Hawkins’ murder, as Texas law permits capital punishment for those who were involved in the act of a capital crime.


Murphy and one other member of the group are still awaiting execution.

'Unplanned' star opens up about her own unplanned pregnancy

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 17:19

Washington D.C., Mar 29, 2019 / 03:19 pm (CNA).- Ashley Bratcher, star of the film Unplanned, opened up about her own unplanned pregnancy during an interview Thursday on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

The film tells the story of Abby Johnson’s conversion from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life leader. After becoming pro-life, Johnson later converted to Catholicism and went on to found And Then There Were None, a ministry that helps abortion clinic workers leave their jobs.

Bratcher, who portrays Johnson in the film, wrote on Facebook earlier this month that she has her own “Unplanned” story.

“My Unplanned baby turned 9 today,” Bratcher wrote in the post honoring her son.

In an interview with EWTN Pro-Life Weekly’s Catherine Hadro, Bratcher said that she had a “sense of shame” about her pregancy since she wasn’t married at the time, and spent “a lot of years keeping it a secret.”

Her role in Unplanned, Bratcher said, made her realize that sharing her own story would “empower a lot of people to share and say, ‘I chose life.’”

Contrary to those who told her she would throw away her acting career by having a child, Bratcher said she knew she could “have a successful, very happy life with a child.”

“Yeah, I was scared,” she said. “I was young, I didn’t know how things were going to go, I didn’t have a job, I wasn’t married, but I knew that there was this incredible life growing inside of me.”

Bratcher explained that though her journey was worthwhile, it wasn’t easy.


“I remember calling out to God at that time and saying – God, what is my purpose here? I don’t understand.”@UnplannedMovie actress @_AshleyBratcher opens up to for the first time to @EWTNProLife about her unplanned pregnancy and choosing life for her son.

— Catherine Hadro (@CatSzeltner) March 28, 2019


“I just remember calling out to God at that time and saying, ‘God, what is my purpose here? I don’t understand, I don’t understand what I’m doing here,” she said.

It was during that time, Bratcher said, that she came to understand God’s love, “because if I could love this little, tiny person growing inside of me that much, how much more God must love me.”

Bratcher said that her son “saved me.”

“He taught me to love unconditionally, and what it meant to put someone else ahead of myself,” she said. “And having my child empowered me, because it made me want to be a better person, it made me fight for something, it just taught me so much about life because I chose to have him.”

Asked what she would tell women facing unplanned pregnancies, Bratcher replied that “there are people who will love you and stand by you.”

“You may think that this is the end of your life, or the end of your career,” she continued. “That’s just a lie, that is a lie that society has perpetuated right now to make you believe—and that’s something Planned Parenthood is really good at doing—is saying, ‘you can’t be successful and have a child, you can’t have a fulfilling career or a happy life and have a child.’ And what abortion does is it preys on that vulnerability. It makes women believe that they really can’t, when in reality, having a child is one of the most empowering things that you can do.”
Bratcher also said that it is “critical” that “Unplanned” has a successful opening weekend, which is “make or break it for a film.”

“If they want to support this cause, and they want to show the culture that this is important, that we can change society’s view on abortion, we need them to show up,” she said.

Abortion and life issues in the film industry took an unexpected turn the day before the film’s release. On March 28, a group of actors published an open letter threatening to boycott the state of Georgia if its governor signed a bill banning abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

The signatories, who include Alec Baldwin, Don Cheadle, Rosie O’Donnell, Gabrielle Union, and Sean Penn, called the pro-life bill “dangerous and deeply-flawed” and pledged to were to do “everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women” if it should pass.

Since 2016, Georgia has become the leading state for the production of feature films, eclipsing even California, due in large part to the state’s generous tax initiatives for production companies.

Bratcher, who herself lives in Georgia, offered her own response in defense of life and the state where she lives.

“I’m incredibly proud of my home state for taking a stand in the fight for life amidst backlash and dubious threats,” she wrote in an open letter carried by Deadline, the site which carried the actors’ original letter.

“In Georgia, we care just as much about being pro-life as being pro-film” and that Georgians “don’t believe in putting a price tag on human life.” Rather than foolish, Bratcher said that she thinks Georgia’s pro-life politicians are “brave.”

Noting the economic pressure the protesting actors were trying to bring to bear, Bratcher offered a simple observation about the relative priorities of the two issues.

“How sad is it that tax credits are a more important topic than the sanctity of human life?”

Unplanned opens in theaters March 29.


Kate Scanlon is the producer of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

Poll finds two-thirds of New Yorkers oppose late-term abortion

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 13:30

Albany, N.Y., Mar 29, 2019 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The vast majority of New Yorkers are opposed to late-term abortion, a new Marist Poll has found. The opposition comes despite the recent passage of the state’s Reproductive Health Act, which found a comfortable majority in the state legislature.


The poll, which was co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, found that while nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers identify as being “pro-choice,” they oppose to the idea of late-term abortion.


In January, the New York State Assembly and Senate easily passed the Reproductive Health Act, which codified the Roe v. Wade decision and removed nearly all restrictions on abortion.


Although the law easily passed through the legislative process, average New Yorkers are far less radical on abortion compared to their representatives. The poll found that 75 percent of New York residents are opposed to abortion after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Only 20 percent of those surveyed said they approved of late-term abortion.


Those opposed to abortion after 20 weeks included nearly 70 percent of surveyed Democrats, 73 percent of political independents and 89 percent of Republicans.


Only two Democratic members of the state Senate voted against the Reproductive Health Act, alongside every Republican senator.


“New Yorkers simply do not support laws that allow late-term abortions,” said Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus. Anderson called the Reproductive Health Act a “radical policy” that is against the wishes of average people from all political stripes.


Previously, abortion was legal in New York until the 24th week of a pregnancy. Under the new law, abortion is permissable throughout an entire pregnancy, until the moment of birth, if it is deemed necessary to preserve the “health” of the mother. The Reproductive Health Act also removed abortion from the state’s criminal code, ending to potential to prosecute assailents who violently induce a miscarriage and allows for medical professionals other than doctors to perform abortions.


To mark the passage of the law, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), a professed Catholic, ordered various landmarks throughout the state to be lit up in bright pink. Cuomo also stated that he hopes other states will follow New York’s lead and pass similar legislation.


Despite being home to one of the most liberal abortion laws in the country, the poll found that New Yorkers are not particularly any more in favor of late-term abortion than the rest of the country. In February, an earlier Marist found that 71 percent of Americans opposed abortion after 20 weeks. Only 18 percent supported late-term abortion.


Fewer than one-third of those surveyed in the latest poll said they thought abortion should be “generally legal” in the last trimester of a pregnancy. Just over half of Democrats, 53 percent, agreed that third-trimester abortion should be “generally illegal.” This figure rose to 65 percent among political independents and to 84 percent of Republicans.


The poll indicated that two out of every three New Yorkers surveyed said they would limit abortion to the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. This figure is below national polling, which found that about 80 percent of Americans would limit abortion to the first trimester at the most.


Since the Reproductive Health Act passed, several other states have heeded Cuomo’s directive and attempted to pass a similar bill, including Vermont and Virginia. The legislation passed in Vermont’s House of Representatives, and did not get out of committee in Virginia. Similar legislation is under consideration in Illinois.