A Day of Ups and DownsJan. 20, 2017
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Education and Health killed an attempt to deregulate abortion centers in the state. The bill would have nullified the hard-fought for health and safety standards initiated by a 2011 law this bill sought to undo. Thankfully, the committee voted it down 8-7, on a party-line vote.
The patron of the bill and those who spoke in favor primarily pointed to last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt to essentially claim that holding abortion centers to high standards of health and safety is “unconstitutional.”
Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax) asked the patron why the Senate should take any action when the watered-down health and safety regulations passed last October by the state Board of Health have been sitting on the Governor’s desk for 41 days with no action (i.e. his signature). In other words, if watering down the health and safety regulations on abortion centers is apparently not a priority even for this Governor, what does that say about the urgency (or the constitutionality) of eliminating the regulations?
For that matter, what was the urgency for the Board of Health to spend thousands of dollars to schedule a “special meeting” just to ram through those amendments? Now 87 days later, we are all still waiting. No one could provide an answer.
The Family Foundation spoke to the Committee to address the constitutional question, pointing to Attorney General Mark Herring’s own guidance letter which stated that is was merely “possible” that the regulations could be “subject to a constitutional challenge” and that the Board of Health has “discretion” to determine whether they think something is unconstitutional or not.
Also on Thursaday, a House General Laws subcommittee passed The Family Foundation’s top religious liberty priority, a bill that would protect religious charities and schools from being discriminated against by state government because of their beliefs, speech and actions regarding marriage. This proposal, which passed last year but was vetoed by the Governor, would be a roadblock to his recent anti-faith, anti-freedom Executive Order 61 that allows the state to punish those who differ with his personal views on marriage by denying those entities contracts. The proposal, patroned by Delegate Nick Freitas (R-30, Culpeper) should be heard by the full committee early next week.
The subcommittee also defeated legislation that would have elevated sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) to a protected class. This proposal has been used to weaponize government against businesses that choose to not participate in same-sex weddings, such as bakers and photographers.
Unfortunately, the same subcommittee defeated legislation that would have protected the privacy, safety and dignity of our school children in public school locker rooms, showers and restrooms. Subcommittee members said they wanted to defer action until the U.S. Supreme Court makes a decision in the case out of Gloucester county later this Spring. Of course, because the narrative that such legislation is “bad for business” and “unwelcoming” has been set by the same media people claim to not believe the bill’s fate was sealed long before today. Too few are willing to stand up to the narrative with the truth.
Quite frankly, if the legislature had passed similar legislation last year before the controversy in North Carolina erupted, providing a convenient narrative to kill this year’s bill, lawmakers might have avoided some of the hyper-hysteria the media and progressive left generated on this year’s bill. But this fight is far from over, as the dignity and safety of our children can’t be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
Another DreamJan. 17, 2017
Driving by the local abortion center at 8 am yesterday, I noticed the parking lot was packed. My first thought was, “how sad.” My second thought was, “So that’s what all these folks decided to do with their holiday?” And then it hit me. This holiday? Today? On Martin Luther King Jr. day, the abortion center is packed.
Even if our nation somehow overcomes all the other horrific racial divides and injustices that still exist, even someday should Black Lives Matters have no unmet objective, as long as abortion on demand continues, King’s dream will continue to be just a dream, an unrealized potential. The dream he had was not to see all these women ending the lives of their unborn.
King’s Dream was that our society would recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, regardless of race.
Abortion is the exact opposite. Abortion, preying more aggressively in the minority communities, whispers to mothers that their child does not have worth. Abortion tells mothers that they are not worthy of the support their families and communities could give them during their pregnancy and later as a single mom. Abortion tells men that they don’t have what it takes to support their offspring.
My feminist friends attempt to downplay the beliefs of Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, while applauding Planned Parenthood; however, its origins and continuing disproportionate impact on minorities can not be overlooked. Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life, has been quoted saying “Sanger was an elitist, racist advocate of limiting, and even eradicating, those she deemed unworthy of life. She wrote of ‘weeding out the unfit,’ of preventing the birth of defectives or those who will become defective.” While no longer the stated mission of the organization, today, in the black community, there are still approximately 483 abortions for every 1000 live births.
So, on MLK day, like each day I see cars in the parking lot of the abortion center, I pray:
Lord, let each woman parked here get a glimpse of someone, a friend, a family member, a faith leader, who could help support her in her time of crisis.
Lord, let the fathers of these children rise up and tell these moms they will be there for this new family.
Lord, may these mothers sense the beauty and potential encapsulated in the life they carry.
Lord, grant each woman the moment of courage they need to stop a plan in motion they will regret.
Lord, don’t let abortion continue to devastate the black community.
Defining Our Own RealityJan. 17, 2017
The entire "transgender" movement rests on the proposition that a person can define his or her (or "ze") own reality, and that society should recognize and yield to that conception of reality at all times in all places. It appears to be yet another unwieldy extension of the Supreme Court's infamous declaration in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (upholding Roe v. Wade) that "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
Fine then, if those are the rules, two (or more) can play this game.
You can be free to define your reality by feelings, emotions, and personal experiences, as long as I am free to define my reality with biological facts, logical reasoning, and a belief in objective truth, both physical and spiritual.
For the sake of this experiment, I'll concede that your "gender" is something altogether different than your sex, and that you should be entitled to be treated as your preferred gender in every way - in bathrooms, showers, restrooms, the use of preferred pronouns, etc.. I guess if "perception is reality", then self-perception must be the ultimate reality.
Alright, now it's my turn. You have to accept that there are only two sexes - male and female - as evidenced most obviously through biological and anatomical differences, that "gender" is simply another word for biological sex, that humans were created by God as either male or female, that one's sex is immutable, and that in recognizing the profoundly unique differences between the sexes, society should honor their privacy and dignity with separate locker rooms, showers and restrooms. After all, in this game, I have an equally valid right to others' respect and official recognition of my reality.
Sounds fair enough, right?
Oh wait...except for the fact that it doesn't work at all. (Yes, I know that we BOTH innately recognize the objective "law of non-contraction" here.) That's because the realities we've "created" are in direct conflict with one another. Together they present an irreconcilable contradiction such that, no matter how hard we try, there can be no peaceful coexistence. One conception of reality will eventually succumb to the other - you can bet your next group therapy session on it.
I wish this weren't so. I really do. Wouldn't it be nice if we could "all just get along" in a world in which we each define what's real to us and then expect everyone else to live by the rules we create? Sounds pleasantly warm and fuzzy to me. Yet we all know such a place does not exist, nor could it ever. In case you had forgotten, this is precisely why we fight so fiercely over laws and public policies. We know that only one reality can prevail and that we'll have to conform our behavior to it.
The question we must answer then is: Whose reality will prevail? Will we decide that reality is defined by some person's feelings, emotions, or experiences? Will we decide to define reality by what we can see, touch, and perceive through our faculties of logic, reason, and common sense? Will it be some combination of these or some other standard altogether?
I think I know which conception of reality should prevail. But one thing I know for certain: this business of defining one's own personal reality is as nonsensical as it is untenable. We don't get to define reality, but we nevertheless have choices. We can either acknowledge its existence and align our behavior accordingly, or we can ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist until invariably it hits us like a ton of bricks.
Day of TearsJan. 16, 2017
There is little doubt that millions of Americans mourn abortion. Polling shows that the public is split on the issue, so it's not a stretch to conclude that a large percentage of us are in the very least troubled by and often times repulsed by the idea of taking the life of an unborn child.
This year, Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), at the request of a Virginia non-profit, has introduced a House Resolution that would simply encourage Virginians to fly their flags at half-staff on January 22, the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that forced abortion on our country, calling it the “Day of Tears”:
Simple, yet profound. No requirement, just a statement of encouragement.
Not surprisingly, the “progressive” secular left is appalled at the thought that Virginians might be appalled at the killing of unborn children. Testifying against the resolution in committee today, the representative from something called “ProgressVirginia” worried that such a resolution might “shame” those who have had abortions.
Now, never mind that it’s highly doubtful many people outside of those pro-lifers who choose to do this will know what it’s about. Perhaps it will encourage some conversations when someone asks their neighbor why their flag is at half-staff, leading to some hearts and minds being changed. Hopefully, as more people become aware of this campaign, pro-life Virginians will see that there are many others who share their belief that abortion should not be celebrated but mourned. Certainly, there’s no intent to shame anyone.
What is troubling, however, about the opposition’s argument against the resolution is that it is not far from saying that any speech that condemns abortion could cause someone to feel bad and is, therefore, suspect and should be prohibited. We’ve seen this in Europe already, and there’s little doubt that the progressive left in this nation would like nothing more than to silent its opposition, particularly those who believe the science that shows life begins at conception. This is not just a threat to the profit of the $1 billion abortion industry, but a threat to one of the pillars of the secular left’s entire worldview – that life has no value outside of what the majority assigns it.
Republicans on the committee quickly advanced the resolution, which should be voted on by the full House of Delegates in the next day or two. Sadly, while we expect the resolution to pass the House, it’s likely to end up being a party line vote. Long gone are the days where Democrats were allowed to vote their conscience on such an issue.
Regardless, we at The Family Foundation hope that you will join others this Sunday by lowering your flag to half-staff. It’s an opportunity to express your mourning for the loss of nearly 60 million children and to elicit conversation about the humanity of unborn life, something the progressive left fears maybe most of all.
Economic Reality CheckJan. 12, 2017
Imagine for a moment you lived in a state:
- That has created over 300,000 new jobs since 2013, including over 30,000 net new jobs since April 2016
- That has seen unemployment decline from 10% to 4.9% (under the national average);
- That has a $425 million budget surplus (not a deficit of over $1 billion);
- That has improved its ranking in CNBC's best states for business in 2016, jumping from #9 up to #5;
- Was named by Forbes Magazine the second best state for business in America for the second year in a row in 2016;
Sounds pretty good, no?
Then you better move to North Carolina.
That’s right, the state the hysterical left – including our own Governor – is painting as being on economic life support is actually doing just fine. In fact, it's doing better than the Commonwealth in several key economic areas – including job growth – as it’s rankings in key surveys from CNBC and Forbes indicate. North Carolina's unemployment rate dropped seven-tenths of a percent over the year, the fourth-best improvement in the nation, while Virginia's has recently inched up. Forbes ranks Virginia the sixth best state for business, a decline from past years and behind NC.
And all this is happening despite the fact that – hold on – North Carolina would prefer men use men’s restrooms and women use women’s restrooms.
Even if you buy the argument that North Carolina’s effort to protect the safety, dignity and privacy of women and children has had a negative effect on its economy, the state is still doing better than Virginia in many ways!
The hysteria from the media, political class and pseudo-conservative bloggers over legislation before the Virginia General Assembly regulating bathroom use in government buildings (i.e. public schools) was as swift as it was predictable. The belief in an underlying reality that biology and DNA matter and that common sense dictate that no one should expect young school girls to be exposed to members of the opposite sex in school showers and locker rooms are now labeled bigotry, hateful and worse than all – bad for the economy.
Of course, this is politics in Virginia, so the narrative being forced on us by a mainstream media no one is supposed to believe any more will likely win out over objective reality. But reality is something different, regardless of what the media and political class are telling you.
Another Victory in the "Bathroom Wars"Jan. 12, 2017
Late Tuesday evening, the Loudoun County School Board wisely chose to follow the recent examples of its two neighboring counties - Fairfax and Prince William - by rejecting an attempt to elevate "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to a protected class.
Privacy, safety and sanity prevailed again - but barely. (The Board voted down one version 5-4 and a similar proposal 6-3)
After the Board's last meeting, where the proponents of policy showed up in force, The Family Foundation helped mobilize concerned citizens to contact their members and to attend last night's meeting where the Board was to vote on the proposal. Many of them bravely addressed the Board during the public comment time including a pastor, a priest and plenty of concerned moms and dads. After learning that the ACLU of Virginia sent the Board a misleading letter to pressure the Board into adopting the dangerous amendments, we delivered a letter drafted by our staff attorney to the Board members explaining to them what the law actually says.
And thankfully, at the end of the day, a majority of the Board heeded that advice, concluding that they did not have the legal authority to create new classes in their nondiscrimination policy. Or, at a minimum, that they should wait for further guidance from the state and federal Supreme Courts, both of which have pending cases before them involving this very issue.
In doing so, the Board (for now) has chosen to protect the safety, privacy and dignity of school children, teachers and staff in locker rooms, showers and bathrooms.
Loudoun County is now the third major Virginia school district in the past six months alone where The Family Foundation has helped ensure these misguided and unlawful policies were defeated. Hopefully now, there's been a clear signal to every school division across the Commonwealth that they had better think twice before attempting to make our school children a pawn for their social agendas.
Ready.Set.Go!Jan. 12, 2017
Surrounded by melting snow and warming temperatures, lawmakers returned to Richmond yesterday for the start of the 2017 Virginia General Assembly session.
To kick off the session, we hosted our Family Advocacy Day and 5th Annual Prayer Walk. Dozens of citizen activists roamed the hallways of the General Assembly, met with their legislators and joined in prayer groups around the Capitol to pray for our elected officials and the new session. We were also honored to host several dozen pastors and ministry leaders with our Virginia Pastor Network Luncheon, with special guest speaker former Governor Bob McDonnell.
The next 45 days will set the stage for the 2017 statewide elections. In November, Virginians will vote for a Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General, as well as all 100 members of the House of Delegates. Consequently, expect a lot of posturing, partisanship and media-driven hysterical narratives about what’s happening in Richmond, which started last night with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s State of the Commonwealth address, in which he warned against legislation that would protect the safety, privacy and dignity of women and children in Virginia.
And, just yesterday I saw an email from the Democrat Party of Virginia hysterically attacking a bill that would prohibit abortion after the mid-point of pregnancy – when science indicates an unborn child can feel pain – calling it a “restrictive, abominable abortion ban bill.” Incredibly, the US is one of only seven countries around the world that still allows elective abortions after the mid-point of pregnancy! That is abominable! And it's high time Virginia join the 18 other states that have passed similar protections for the unborn.
Regardless of the narratives, The Family Foundation comes into this year’s session with a common-sense, broad-based agenda that advances our principles.
A top priority will be the reinforcement of religious liberty protections that would prohibit state government from penalizing entities such as faith-based charities and colleges for their moral or religious beliefs regarding marriage and sexuality. This legislation passed the General Assembly last session, only to be vetoed by Governor McAuliffe. Just last week Governor McAuliffe issued an Executive Order that constitutes one of the most anti-religious freedom policies in the nation by restricting the charities and businesses with which the state does business to only those that have a viewpoint of marriage and sexuality that is in line with the Governor’s personal beliefs. State Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax) and Delegate Nick Freitas (R-30, Culpeper) are carrying crucial religious liberty legislation.
The Family Foundation will once again support efforts that protect Virginia taxpayers from being forced to subsidize Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, particularly in light of a recent Congressional investigation that confirmed that organization’s involvement in a fetal-body-part-selling-for-profit-scandal. There are well over one hundred community based health centers in Virginia, many in areas that do not have Planned Parenthood abortion centers, that offer real health care for women. Those health centers should be prioritized for taxpayer dollars before a dime goes to Planned Parenthood. Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst) is once again patroning this important bill.
We are also supporting legislation this year that will protect the free speech rights of students on college campuses. The reports around the nation of conservative speakers being denied opportunity to speak, speech codes and “safe spaces” on college campuses indicate a campus culture run amok, and the victims of this discrimination are usually conservative Christians.
As always, we will also fight against bills that threaten religious freedom and seek to roll back important pro-life, pro-family gains from recent years. Already, secular liberals in the General Assembly have introduced numerous bills that elevate sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to special status in the law. Couched as bills that will “help our economy” and “stop discrimination,” the truth is that these laws are used to discriminate! In every case you’ve heard about where a business owner has faced fines or jail for not wanting to participate in a same-sex wedding, the attacks are based on these “SOGI” laws.
I hope you will commit to taking action when we call on you over the next few weeks. Legislators need to hear from you! When you get an “Action Alert” from us, please take just a moment to influence your Delegate or Senator. We know that we send many Action Alerts during session, but the pace in Richmond is fast and furious and your activity is critical!
I also ask once again this year that you pray for our elected officials, their staffs, and our team here at The Family Foundation during the next 45 days. Session is a physically, emotionally and spiritually draining time, and we need God’s wisdom, discernment and protection each and every day.
McAuliffe Attacks FaithJan. 06, 2017
Yesterday, Governor McAuliffe issued an Executive Order declaring that the state government would no longer contract for goods or services with anyone unless they sign a form stating that they will not “discriminate” based upon “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”
In essence, the Governor is saying that you can't do business with the state unless you allow men into women's bathrooms and fully embrace the administration’s view that there are no distinctions between male and female, as well as its definition of marriage. This affects hundreds of entities that provide goods and services to or on behalf of the state, including many churches, charities, and other faith-based institutions.
This unconstitutional act of intimidation and bullying of businesses and charities that are operated by people of faith, from Christians to Jews to Muslims, is not only unnecessary but dangerous. There is no evidence of discrimination in Virginia by any businesses or charities that work with the state, and this executive order could require the state to investigate the personal, private beliefs of business owners, an action that should frighten anyone who believes in protecting civil liberties.
Sadly, this action was predictable as Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Herring are far more interested in divisive politics and appeasing their base in a crucial election year than they are in providing real economic leadership. Instead of providing real economic leadership, they are advocating government discrimination against people of faith, Christians, Jews and Muslims, simply because they disagree with their beliefs.
It is also in direct violation of the Virginia Constitution, which states that “...the right to be free from any governmental discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction...shall not be abridged." Virginians should be free to earn a living, care for the poor, help the sick and serve their communities in accordance with their faith without being attacked and discriminated against by state government.
Virginians should be appalled by this act of blatant religious bigotry. As Virginia continues to slide further down on the list of states in which it’s best to do business, the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General have no real solutions other than pandering to their base.
But rest assured, we intend to fight this unlawful order by every available means. With the stroke of a pen, the Governor just “upped the ante” on religious liberty in our Commonwealth, and he cannot be allowed to get away with it.
You can read more about this story here and here.
Hurry Up and WaitJan. 03, 2017
So, it turns out, the desperate emergency that required the Virginia Board of Health hold a costly, special meeting to gut abortion center health and safety standards might not have been so necessary after all.
You may recall that the Board voted on October 24th to amend the standards at the behest of the $1 billion abortion industry. The Board was scheduled to vote at its September meeting but so many errors and violations of state law were made during the process that a special commission of the General Assembly urged the Board to delay its vote. The abortion industry and its apologists hysterically claimed at the September Board meeting that a special meeting must be held because delaying until the regularly scheduled December meeting would have “put women at risk” and Virginia would be “in violation of the Supreme Court,” etc., etc. (One person actually said Virginia had to follow the “directive” of the Court, though the Court doesn’t issue directive, it gives opinions.)
From that point, the amendments have continued through the regulatory process, from being approved by the Attorney General to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, then landing on the Governor’s desk for his approval on December 9th.
Apparently, however, Governor Terry McAuliffe is still in his “safe space” after Hillary Clinton’s surprising defeat on Election Day. You see, despite the “emergency” and hysterical pleas of the abortion industry in October, the Governor has yet to take action.
Twenty-five days later and counting.
Now, one would think, if women were at risk of life and limb and all, the Governor would have acted a bit more urgently on a matter of such import. Or maybe he was just caught up in holiday festivities?
More likely, the issue wasn’t an emergency at all, and the special meeting that costs taxpayers somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 to $8,000 wasn’t so necessary.
Regardless of when the Governor takes action, the long delay has revealed the truth – the special meeting was a costly waste of time for everyone involved that amounted to little more than a PR stunt for the abortion industry.
“The baby ‘leaped’ in her womb”Dec. 22, 2016
If ever there was a pro-life story, it’s Christmas. I’m talking about the real Christmas story – the one about the glorious birth of a baby wrapped in “swaddling” clothes and laid in a manger. A baby whose task from day one was to save the world by atoning for the sins of all mankind.
In Christmas, we celebrate one truly miraculous life-giving event that would commence the ultimate life-saving mission.
But let’s back up a moment to consider the lead-up to that grand event. Remember how Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth soon after the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would soon conceive and give birth to a son (Luke, Chapter 1). Elizabeth had also conceived a child, who would later be called John the Baptist. It’s very possible that Jesus would have already been conceived in Mary’s womb when she showed up to Elizabeth’s house that day. From verse 41, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The baby leaped in her womb.
This is quite an interesting detail for Luke to point out in a story that would be read by millions for millennia. In particular, notice how the unborn child in the womb is acknowledged as a “baby”, i.e. a person. Notice also how the baby responded to the mother of Jesus, and quite possibly to Jesus himself, independently and seemingly even self-consciously, i.e. not merely a “blob of cells.”
And notice also that in the case of both Mary and Elizabeth, it was God Himself who had ordained both John the Baptist and Jesus to come into the world beginning with their “conception” in a womb.
It is abundantly clear when their lives began and that they were every bit as significant at every point in their development. If there was any uncertainty about these questions, the lead-up to the first Christmas cleared it up for us.
Above all else, notice in this story the response to the arrival of the promised Messiah – even as He was still in Mary’s womb or soon to be there – not just by some ordinary person, but by an unborn baby.
Verses 43-44: “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
The baby in her womb leaped for joy.
That’s quite a response. No doubt it was the greatest expression of joy the baby could muster for such a grand occasion. It does make me wonder: when was the last time I leaped for joy at the arrival of the “Lord” Jesus into the world? And does my response to the Christ child adequately reflect the magnificence and joyousness of the occasion? It’s certainly something worth thinking about.
One thing is evident: there is much we could stand to learn from babies still in the womb.
The Interconnectedness of Social IssuesDec. 09, 2016
Have you ever paused to think about just how interconnected our social issues really are? Perhaps you’ve recognized that whether it’s issues involving life, marriage, parental authority, religious liberty, poverty or general morality, nearly every social ill we face today seems to flow naturally from one fatal tendency of man; that is, the tendency to exercise our sexual desires outside of the bounds prescribed by the One who made us. Without exception, the moment we do this, things begin to go awry.
You don’t have to be a religious person to recognize both the personal and societal harms that result from unrestrained sexual behavior. Its destruction lies everywhere and affects everyone, and all of us can see its negative impacts (abuse, rape, broken families, fatherlessness, betrayal, addiction, trauma, abortion, etc.). We may like to indulge our appetites for certain inclinations, but we never like the bitter consequences that follow. And even while much of what’s happening in our culture today is little more than our attempt to avoid these consequences (e.g. abortion, government subsidized contraception, special legal protections for sexual behavior, suppression of contrary religious viewpoints, etc.), the damage is inescapable.
In my work at The Family Foundation, I’ve become acutely aware of the interconnectivity of issues and how one’s view on human sexuality lies at the heart of most every issue we encounter. (Our five core values are Life, Marriage, Parental Authority, Religious Liberty, and Constitutional Government)
Consider just a few of these connections. Sex before marriage results in unintended pregnancies, which often lead to abortions, the majority of which are sought by younger unmarried women. Meanwhile, sex before marriage disincentivizes marriage, enabling individuals to enjoy a primary benefit of marriage without the corresponding responsibilities of commitment, fidelity, and financial support. This, among other things, leads to fatherlessness and a loss over time of what it means to be a father. Children who grow up without a father figure active in their lives are significantly more likely to end up in prison and impoverished. Children born to unmarried parents suffer the lack of security and stability that comes with the marriage bond.
Sexual relationships other than a married, monogamous man and woman dilute the understanding of the importance of marriage, distort the ideal standard for healthy human relationships, and destroy marriages and families. Adultery in marriage leads to insecurity, distrust and betrayal, often culminating in divorce. Divorce leads to at least a million other complications which need no extrapolation, but especially for the children of that union. Same-sex civil relationships purposefully deprive children the ability to have both a mother and a father, which every child deserves whenever possible. Growing up without a mother or a father impacts a person negatively in deep and profound ways which manifest themselves in many other areas.
Most of the threats to religious liberty in our culture today have been the direct result of the formal elevation of homosexuality or of a person’s subjective identification as something other than their biological sex. Whether it’s declining to participate in a same-sex “wedding” ceremony, the hiring of employees whose beliefs and life choices are consistent with the organization’s mission, maintaining separation among males and females in areas of bodily exposure, objecting to paying for others’ contraception drugs or devices, or resisting government coercion to perform an abortion or “sex change” operation (just to name a few), every one of these scenarios has been made a heresy or a crime as a direct outgrowth of this same source. And each time, religious freedom comes under direct attack.
Many of the issues involving parental authority confirm this same narrative. Whether it’s parents’ ability to be informed of and/or object to sexually explicit instructional materials for their children while in school, parents’ right to opt out of government-sponsored sex education, or parental notification before their child has an abortion or receives birth control drugs, unhealthy views about sex continue to threaten parental rights.
The connections are endless, I assure you. Yet for all of the problems we inherit as a result of our own or others’ unhealthy sexual behaviors, the good news is that we already know the solution.
It’s a simple yet profound formula: Preserve sex for a life-long monogamous marriage.
That’s the solution. And from it flows strong nuclear families, with a husband and wife, bearing (or adopting) and raising children in a loving stable home with a mom and a dad. If we’re smart and we really want to fix our problems, we will not reduce this concept to a “Leave it to Beaver” episode of days gone by. I challenge anyone to come up with a better idea. There aren’t any.
So then if that’s the case, why aren’t so many of us doing it? Well probably, among other reasons, because it’s hard. It takes a lot of work. And it compels us to not think of ourselves first, but to put other’s needs and desires ahead of our own. And yet as we are witnessing today and will continue to see in more glaring ways, the alternatives have infinitely more drawbacks and prove much harder in the end. And unlike our formula, they were not designed for human flourishing – which is what we’re all really striving for.
At The Family Foundation, our heart is for free people to flourish and prosper, and to live the healthiest and most fulfilling life they can live. So we have chosen to promote and protect the family. We have recognized that if we want to restore a broken culture and to maintain our freedom, we must restore the traditional nuclear family. There simply is no other way. And that’s good news for everyone.
Every Minute CountsDec. 07, 2016
Hypocrisy reigns within the Virginia Board of Health, with the latest example coming again from pro-abortion members of the Board appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
At last week’s Board meeting, some once-aggressive members appointed by McAuliffe were extremely grieved over attempts to correct the official minutes from the October meeting at which the Board voted to eviscerate abortion center health and safety standards. At that October meeting, the Board rushed through several amendments to the standards with little or no discussion, including some amendments that had not been seen by Board members until that day. Yet, the amendments were nearly all adopted without pro-abortion members needing any time at all to consider their implications.
But at last week’s meeting, when members of the Board who had objected to the amendments and had repeatedly made the case that the Board was acting illegally wanted the official minutes of the October Board meeting to clearly and accurately reflect their concerns, they were rebuffed. Incredibly, the same Board members who needed no time whatsoever to contemplate adopting consequential amendments to the health and safety standards that put women’s health at risk pleaded for time to “absorb” and contemplate the amendments to the minutes! Apparently, the official record of the meeting was suddenly something of import – even more so than the health and safety standards themselves.
Perhaps pro-abortion members needed to go to their “safe-spaces” to be able to handle something as emotionally traumatizing as the truth.
Or, maybe, the McAuliffe-appointed members know a lawsuit is in the wings and they don’t want the fact that they violated the law reflected in the official record? Could it be that the administration and its appointees (along with the Attorney General’s office who advises the Board) are well aware of their violations of the law and are now doing all they can to try to cover it up? Why not simply allow the minutes to reflect the reality of what happened at the October meeting? After all, if the objections to the votes were without merit, what’s the downside?
From the beginning, the McAuliffe administration’s desperate efforts to appease Planned Parenthood and the $1 billion abortion industry have been tainted with politics, incompetence and illegality. Last week’s actions by McAuliffe’s litmus-tested pro-abortion Board members is just the latest example; one that reeks of fear.
Tar Heels Still Beating VirginiaNov. 30, 2016
Governor Terry McAuliffe with assistance from his media allies has spent the better part of his administration carrying the message that Virginia must be a “welcoming” state to successfully attract businesses, and therefore jobs, to the Old Dominion. By “welcoming,” of course, he means disregarding religious liberty, personal privacy and safety, abandoning common sense and imposing McAuliffe’s so-called “progressive” agenda on the Old Dominion.
When North Carolina was ground zero last year for the hysterical left’s latest fear campaign during debate over that state’s effort to protect privacy and dignity, Governor McAuliffe went so far as to invite businesses in NC to move to Virginia.
The latest analysis from Forbes magazine indicates that Mr. McAuliffe’s efforts have done little to help Virginia, while NC’s economy is doing just fine.
Forbes recent list ranking the best states in which to do business found North Carolina at #2, ahead of the Commonwealth's 6th place ranking.
Not a big deal, you say?
How about this. Seven of the top 10 states in Forbes rankings have not caved to the progressive left’s anti-freedom agenda that elevates sexual behavior to protected classification by adding “sexual orientation/gender identity” at the expense of safety, privacy and dignity.
Oh, and while Virginians are learning on a seemingly regular basis that many of Governor McAuliffe’s press releases about new jobs and business to Virginia have been unfulfilled or are just a tiny bit exaggerated, North Carolina has added thousands of jobs, particularly in high tech. In fact, despite the rhetoric that NOVA is the Silicon Valley of the east, Raleigh, NC has seen an over 38 percent increase in tech jobs since 2010, second only to San Francisco in that time period. Charlotte was also in the top 20 list of cities with increased tech jobs. No city in Virginia is on the list. It seems the new economy Terry McAuliffe promised has moved just a little bit down the road, to North Carolina.
Despite the well-funded, cultural elitist driven campaign of fear against North Carolina and the best efforts of Virginia’s salesman-in-chief, the Tar Heel state is crushing Virginia in jobs and business climate.
But wait, you say, the North Carolina governor just lost his race! See, there’s proof that protecting human privacy and dignity are losing issues.
Not so fast. While that race is still being contested, it’s important to note that nearly every Republican who favored the bill the left is hysterically attacking as hateful and bigoted kept their seats. One state House leader of the bill easily won a seat in the state Senate – in a district near Charlotte, the epicenter of the left’s fear mongering.
If we learned anything from this year’s national election it’s that you really can’t believe anything the national media tells you. Sadly, this has brought about so-called “fake news,” but it also must make you question everything you’ve been told by the media about what’s been happening in North Carolina and the consequences for that state’s economy. The reality is, North Carolina’s economy is booming while Virginia’s remains stagnant and continues to rely too heavily on the federal government.
Virginia’s lawmakers are likely to use the potential defeat of Governor McCrory as reason enough not to defend and protect the privacy and safety of women and children in Virginia. They’ll conveniently argue that such efforts will make Virginia less “welcoming” to business and hurt our economy. In doing so, they will have fallen for the media-driven narrative that makes their fear of taking a stand seem reasonable. The Virginia media and editorial pages will provide all the assistance they need, and they’ll all pat themselves on the back for their pragmatism and vision. But they’ll be wrong, and consequently, jobs will continue to flow to North Carolina instead of our Commonwealth, and the privacy and dignity of women and children will be sacrificed.
MeltdownNov. 16, 2016
Okay, I have to confess. I’ve kind of enjoyed watching the hysterical, emotionally driven “progressive” left go into full meltdown mode since Election day. Frankly, regardless of whether or not as a conservative you voted for Mr. Trump, the show the left has put on for the last week has been way better than the actual campaign.
And, if you’re message prior to Election day was, “everyone who disagrees with me is a racist, bigot, homophobic, xenophobic moron,” then, by all means, double down on that message after you lose. Brilliant!
Look, I admit, I’m no fan of President-elect Trump, and have serious reservations about what his election means for our nation and culture. And, frankly, the rhetoric coming out of this election and to this day from too many people and far too many “leaders” has been disturbing, sometimes disgusting and generally indecent. But as I watch the hysteria unfold I do have to ask, why do so many people fear a President like they might an unrestrained king?
And there you have it.
I suspect those on the “progressive” left are fearful because their view of the power of the office of President is so dangerously skewed. They’ve grown up in a nation where, let’s face it, Congress is nearly irrelevant and has happily allowed itself to become an after-thought. It can’t pass anything of substance and generally, isn’t asked to do so. And by doing nothing or very little they are almost guaranteed re-election. And Presidents have taken advantage of that vacuum - both Republican and Democrat.
The modus operandi of the left is to use the courts or the executive to do what it can’t get done through the legislature. Our nation is embroiled in a debate over who can use what bathrooms because a letter – not even a regulation – from a bureaucrat in the Department of Education under the direction of the President (as in his administration) redefined what a law means and now it’ll be up to the Supreme Court, not the legislature that created the law, to decide if the bureaucrat is correct. An unaccountable bureaucrat and an unaccountable court accomplishing the will of the king. Too often Executive Orders have been used to circumvent the legislative process. Too often, the balance of powers has been abused. But when you can’t win enough elections because your ideas are outside the wishes of many Americans, it can apparently get pretty frustrating, and that whole balance of powers thing is just so yesterday.
But now, the left is worried that Mr. Trump will act the exact same way Mr. Obama acted as President with no balance from the other branches of government. Now, they fear a king.
What they don’t understand is the very system of government they trash and attack is the very system of government that, when executed properly, protects us from that which they fear. The Founders wanted no part of a king. Some, frankly, were pretty concerned about a President, but reluctantly accepted the idea because the legislature would provide the necessary balance. (We won’t get into their view of the courts. Let’s just say they wouldn’t recognize courts making law.) But that balance works only when the legislature is strong and the courts don’t legislate.
I’ve worried for years that the incessant attacks from both the left and the right on legislative bodies in this nation are going to undermine their credibility to the point of inhibiting their ability to provide balance to the other branches. Congress has an approval rating somewhere akin to Satan. Many on the left (and right) have made it sound like anything legislative bodies do is illegitimate because gerrymandering has tainted the entire process. It isn’t a far leap from illegitimate to unnecessary. Yes, Congress has failed in many ways, but the response to that shouldn’t be to shift more power to the Presidency and courts. It should be to force Congress to do its job. A long-term, hard, expensive, difficult task? You bet.
But way better than a king. For all of us.
Safe Spaces for Sex TraffickingNov. 15, 2016
Much-needed focus continues to be placed on the travesty of human trafficking. In Virginia, it was recently announced that the Attorney General’s office is receiving a $1.45 million federal grant to help combat the plague of human trafficking in the Commonwealth, including funding for a new anti-human trafficking coordinator. According to the Washington Times, officials are creating a task force that will “seek to assist victims, investigate and prosecute crimes and raise awareness about the problem in the [Hampton Roads] region and across the state.”
All things considered, I’d say it is money well spent in furtherance of putting an end to this modern-day slave trade, having the potential to rescue many lives from the throes of unspeakable bondage. Human trafficking is not only an issue everyone should care about deeply; it’s an evil for which the government has an affirmative duty to abolish and prevent. And given that Virginia had the 13th most cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline through June 30 according to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office, Virginia is a prime place to focus these efforts.
Yet given actions of Virginia’s Attorney General, and in light of what we know about human trafficking as it relates to sex trafficking and abortions, I have sadly little confidence his office will do all that can be done to combat this horror.
One of the Attorney General’s earliest “opinions” protected abortion industry workers from having to report possible cases of sex abuse of minors – which by default would include young victims of human trafficking. This was done after inspections found a Roanoke abortion center was not obtaining parental consent for abortions in some cases – including 13 and 14-year old children. (That abortion center, in a recent inspection, wasn’t even training its staff on how to identify potential victims of sex abuse/human trafficking).
How am I supposed to believe that the Attorney General is doing all he can do to combat human trafficking if he’s willing to prevent abortion centers that exist on the I-81 corridor – notorious for human trafficking – from having to report child sexual assault?
Now, within the past month the State Board of Health, at the apparent direction and aid of Mark Herring’s office, gutted much of the health and safety standards required of abortion centers in the state, with the clear effect – if not specific intent – of giving abortion centers a ‘free pass’ from state inspectors.
Among the numerous amendments made to the regulations, the Commissioner of Health has been granted the sole and absolute power to grant a temporary or permanent waiver of ANY of the regulations for abortion centers. That includes the center’s obligation to maintain patient records which must, among other things, include “1. Patient identification; 2. Admitting information, including patient history and physical examination; [and] 3. Signed consent” (12VAC5-412-300). This means that the abortion center could lawfully be permitted to not record a single thing about a female patient that could otherwise provide staff with evidence that she is a victim of sex-trafficking and/or that she is being forced to have an abortion for that reason.
Another change strips the power of the Department of Health to enforce most of the provisions of state law related to requirements for abortion centers. These include critical reporting requirements for things such as suspected abuse, neglect, or serious threats to the patient’s health or safety (§ 32.1-127.1:03-04). These requirements exist, in no small part, to be a powerful tool in exposing human sex-trafficking by medical professionals who are specially trained in its detection and who are uniquely-positioned to encounter its victims. Yet the Attorney General actively sought to guarantee those tools were eliminated when abortion centers are involved. And even though each abortion center would still be obligated to follow state law, if the Department isn’t enforcing these requirements through its periodic inspections, then in many cases there is no enforcement and abortionists have little incentive to comply.
The economic reality is that abortion centers profit from the international human sex-trafficking enterprise. Among other consequences, sex-trafficking directly results in unwanted pregnancies by people who are committed to eliminating that “problem.” And where do you think they turn? That’s right - their local Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Therefore, economically speaking, abortion centers have every incentive to not expose abortions related to sex trafficking when they suspect it. Isn’t it interesting then, that Virginia’s Governor and Attorney General have spent the last three years working to ensure that Virginia’s abortion centers need not worry about the law impeding on those profits?
Many on the Left like to talk about “safe spaces” when it comes to some things like speech and expression. Upon closer review, it appears that some are equally committed to ensuring similar safe zones for human sex-traffickers. We know these safe zones as abortion “clinics.” Mind you, they are not safe at all for children in the womb or their abused and destitute mothers who carry them. But we’ll just have to overlook that for the sake of uninhibited “access to reproductive healthcare,” even if that happens to include unfettered access to human traffickers.
Freedom = DiscriminationNov. 07, 2016
I hear a lot of faulty rhetoric these days repeated ardently in the public square - rhetoric that is often self-contradictory and so intellectually weak that it hardly merits retort. Among the clearest examples of this sort of rhetoric can be heard all around us in the following phrase, or similar versions thereof: “Discrimination is discrimination, period, and discrimination of any kind is wrong.” Without exception, this statement is followed up with: “Therefore, the government should prevent and/or penalize all forms of discrimination.”
No doubt you’ve heard this line before. It has quickly become one of the favorite talking points of those who seek to impose every radical perversion of sex and gender ideology onto all those remaining who have not yet gotten on board with their “progressive” thinking. Elevating the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to specially protected classes is just the most recent crusade of these immoralists.
At surface level, the rhetoric sounds great, right? It appeals to our better side, which tells us (correctly) that we should treat all people with equal dignity and respect. At an emotional level, we would personally feel bad to treat a person differently than others for fear that it might be unfair or even hurtful to that person. And understandably, most of us don’t want that. But once past the surface, the rhetorical value ends.
As with all things, we must take the next step and actually think about what is being said and ask ourselves: Is it true? Is it sound? Is it consistent with objective reality? Does it foster and promote a better and freer society for all?
On all counts, the answer must be “no.” In fact, nothing could be more absurd to the habits of a free people.
After all, freedom itself requires discrimination because it necessitates an endless series of choices, and a choice is nothing if not the exercise of discrimination – for any number of a million different reasons – in favor of some things to the exclusion of others. I choose pizza over salad. You choose women to be your close friends over men. I choose to buy a house in a particular neighborhood instead of others. You choose to practice this religion over that one. And regardless of whether or not we agree with everyone's choices, we should all agree that each person should be free to make those choices. Not only do those choices enable us to live freely, but they also highlight our uniqueness as individuals.
In reality, every single conscious decision each of us makes in life is an act of discrimination. We weigh our values, convictions, preferences, and interests with every scenario we encounter, and then we apply them in making decisions about how we will live our lives, with whom we will interact, and what things (or people) we will avoid. We are always discriminating. There is no freedom without it. And we all love freedom, don't we?
Simply put, freedom IS discrimination.
It can be of no value then to simply say that “discrimination is discrimination,” since you are not really saying anything at all except what is already obvious. (e.g. 2 = 2) A reasonable person might then suspect that what the declarant is really doing is injecting some unknown definition of “discrimination” into his statement, without ever bothering to define it. Thus, what he puts forward as obvious is actually anything but obvious, and knowing this, he hides behind the purposeful confusion he has created since the truth simply will not support his agenda.
Moreover, he cannot really mean that all discrimination is wrong and should therefore be unlawful. To say this is to say that we ought to have a totalitarian state that makes all the decisions rather than a free one in which individuals make their own decisions according to their own values. Yet as I consider the actual direction this rhetoric is taking us, I’m beginning to think that a totalitarian state in which the declarant makes the decisions for all people is precisely what he’s after. Getting his way means that you lose your freedom. He knows this, but he isn't about to state it openly - preferring instead to declare that he is against all "discrimination." Ironically, this “anti-discrimination” for which he advocates is exactly the kind of discrimination that free societies cannot tolerate without ceasing to be free.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that individuals sometimes abuse their freedom in ways that are hurtful to others. As neighbors and fellow citizens, we ought to find constructive ways to address and correct those abuses. Freedom, rightly understood, comes not only with rights, but duties also - both to God and our fellow man.
In light of this understanding, as a matter of public policy then, the relevant questions when it comes to discrimination are these:
1) Which, if any, bases for discrimination should be prohibited by the government (and by which government)? And if any,
2) In what contexts and to what degree should those bases for discrimination be prohibited?, and
3) Since freedom is itself the ability to discriminate based on various self-determined criteria, does the claimed need for the prohibition of a particular basis of discrimination in a particular context outweigh the corresponding loss of freedom?, and
4) To what extent do our federal or state Constitutions guarantee the protection of certain freedoms so as to make the answers definitive?
But these questions are virtually never even acknowledged since they require a thoughtful and reasoned analysis, along with a recognition that these issues are not always so cut and dry as some would like you to believe. It’s high time for “progressives” to be honest about the issue of discrimination because only then can we begin to reach any common ground on how best to deal with it. Their faulty rhetoric thus far has served only to distort the real issues while resulting in a mass deception. Despite how pathetically shallow the rhetoric is, it has nevertheless continued to captivate the simple-minded. But in a free society, although freedom cannot be said to exist where not all ideas are permitted, the same freedom can only be sustained where the faulty ideas are being constantly challenged, scrutinized, and demolished.
Let’s hope more sensible minds prevail in demolishing this particular rhetorical nonsense, since the freedom of us all depends upon it.
One Day. One Voice. One Purpose.Nov. 02, 2016
I don’t know about you, but my heart aches every time I hear about an orphan or child in foster care in desperate need of a family. But I also rejoice when I see a family come to the rescue of a child in need. I have family and friends who have adopted and it’s always exciting to see.
November is National Adoption Month, and Sunday, November 13th is Orphan Sunday, opportunities for churches and families to emphasize the need for more families to open their hearts and homes to kids in need of a forever family. Not every family can adopt, but we can all help those who wish to by supporting organizations and ministries that support and facilitate adoption.
Or, maybe your family can adopt. Right now there are approximately 10,000 churches in Virginia and, according to the Christian Alliance for Orphans, there are approximately 1,500 kids in foster care that need a permanent family. That means, if a single family in one in six churches Virginia adopted one child out of Virginia’s foster care system, there would be more families asking for a child than there are children in foster care awaiting adoption.
Think about that for a moment.
Frankly, if just the churches on The Family Foundation’s email list had a family that adopted a foster child in need of a forever family, there would be no kids left in need of a home!
But that’s just part of the need. There are children all over the world in desperate need of adoption, and simply not enough families opening their hearts and doors to this growing challenge. I’m excited to say that in recent years the church in America has awakened to this need and has responded! Christian giving to orphan care is growing at unprecedented rates, but more is needed. And more families are needed.
If you’re a pastor, I encourage you to focus on adoption on Orphan Sunday, November 13th. You can learn more about this worldwide emphasis by clicking here. The goal is to have one day when we are all speaking with one voice for one purpose, to help orphans across the globe.
You can learn more about the growing orphan adoption movement at the Christian Alliance for Orphans website.
James tells us that, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” What better way to fulfill the first half of James’s statement than to adopt an orphan or child who needs a family?
I pray that you and your family will consider adoption or support adoption efforts!
Terry's WayNov. 01, 2016
In its blind haste to protect the $1 billion abortion industry by gutting Virginia’s abortion center health and safety standards, Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration and his hand-picked members of the Board of Health violated state law that guides the regulatory process multiple times in multiple ways. Of course, considering it’s Terry McAuliffe acting on advice from Mark Herring, this should come as little surprise to anyone. Neither has exhibited much fidelity to the law since being in office.
Consequently, to this point, we’ve blamed the mistakes on the administration’s incompetence and/or complete lack of respect for the law. Perhaps, but if nothing changes, the precedent set could have dramatic consequences.
If allowed to stand, the process the Governor used to pay back the abortion industry could become a model for ignoring long-standing state law that guides what is supposed to provide the public and those being regulated with an abundance of transparency and opportunity for input.
Essentially, the Administrative Process Act (APA) provides agencies and boards with the process to adopt regulations. One of the initial responsibilities of the agency or board involved is to publicly announce what it plans to do – the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action, or NOIRA. In the case of amending existing regulations, like the abortion center health and safety standards, the NOIRA is supposed to provide the public and affected persons notice of what areas of the regulations may be changed. This provides transparency for everyone involved. It’s also the, you know, law. The thing the McAuliffe/Herring regime finds so bothersome.
Thus, in 2014, the initial NOIRA developed by the Department of Health stated that six of the 27 sections of abortion center health and safety standards would be reviewed for potential amendment. This gave interested parties the opportunity to weigh in and make suggestions. But by the time the Board of Health took its final vote on the amendments on Monday, around 20 of the 37 sections of the standards had been changed, and several of those amendments had never been made public or had any public input whatsoever. This is why several Board members objected over and over again to amendments that were “outside the original NOIRA.” They were, in fact, illegal.
Now, let’s reverse this and put it in the context of adding new regulations instead of removing them. The new McAuliffe way provides a path for over-zealous regulators who aren’t interested in or care about the input of those being affected by the regulations. You simply adopt an NOIRA at the start of the process that is very narrow, quietly work the process and then at the very end, drop all the additional regulations you had planned all along but didn’t want the public or those being affected by the regulations to know about. Outside of dotting a few Is and crossing a few Ts, the deal is done. No transparency, no accountability, no problem.
Welcome to Terry’s new Virginia.
Because the issue of abortion has overshadowed the process of providing standards of care for abortion centers, few who don’t otherwise care about “social issues” are likely paying attention, which is exactly why it’s the perfect issue to test run the new process. That said, based on the first three years of his administration, I highly doubt this was all planned. More likely, they tripped into the new process by mistake while simply ignoring the law.
Regardless, if allowed to stand, you can count on this scenario playing out again in the future, only next time some highly disliked industry is going to be the victim. And those who dismiss this instance as “social issues” not to be bothered by will be the ones loudly protesting the unfairness of it all.
#shamprocessOct. 25, 2016
On Monday, the $1 billion abortion industry got what it paid for; politically motivated protection from Terry McAuliffe. Despite overwhelming evidence uncovered by inspections of abortion centers, including bloody, unsterilized medical equipment, doctors and nurses not washing hands or re-gloving between patients, untrained and unaccountable staffing, and hundreds of other deficiencies, the Board of Health, populated by those who passed the Governor’s pro-abortion litmus test, did as they were ordered and watered down health and safety standards. During this sham process demanded by the Governor, the Board also violated the clear law of Virginia regarding the transparency and ethics of the adoption of regulations.
Some of the more radical changes to the health and safety standards (there were more than 20) include:
- Removed the requirement that abortion centers meet the CDC’s minimum standards for preventing infections. Incredibly, one McAuliffe appointed Board member attempted to suggest that the CDCs standards, evidence-based, were not necessarily the best standard to go by, but believes the abortion industry will provide itself adequate standards.
- Granted the Commissioner of Health unparalleled and unlimited power to ignore what health standards for abortion centers are left through “permanent” variances. Essentially, the Commissioner can unilaterally decide if any safety standard is unnecessary and cease to enforce them.
- Removed requirement that women be offered resources for post-abortive counseling, a standard suggested even by the abortion industry’s own “regulatory” body, the National Abortion Federation.
- Removed a requirement – already fulfilled by every abortion center in Virginia – for a facility to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital in case a patient suffers an emergency. One of the Board members told of how even the dentist she takes her son to has a transfer agreement because he does oral surgery.
Of course, all the media will talk about is the Board's decision to remove construction standards, though having adequate space for emergency personnel would seem a reasonable safety feature. The Board also based many of its decisions on a radically aggressive interpretation of a Supreme Court decision from earlier this year.
By the time the Board was done eviscerating the standards, when the Department of Health sends public health inspectors into abortion centers – if it even does – they won’t know what to look for or what standards to hold the facilities accountable to, making it a political farce.
Over and over those members of the Board of Health not controlled by the abortion industry and Terry McAuliffe offered legal and reasonable explanations for keeping the current health and safety standards. Over and over they objected to having to vote on amendments that are outside the original “Notice of Intended Regulatory Action,” making the amendments illegal, and over and over they were defeated by McAuliffe’s appointees.
For our staff, the day began as early as midnight Sunday night, when we had people on the property of the hotel where the meeting was to be held out of concern the rules sent to us late Friday about how entrance to the meeting and signing up for public comment would be enforced. Sure enough, despite being told by both the Department of Health and the hotel management that no one would be allowed to line up until 6:30 am, pro-abortion activists began lining up before 2:00 am. Despite our repeated effort to get the rules enforced, both law enforcement and the hotel refused. Only because so few pro-abortion activists showed up was our side able to gain access to the room.
Several doctors and medical professionals argued during public comment that watering down the health and safety standards flew in the face of any reasonable medical practice and puts women in danger, but their pleas were largely ignored.
The actions of the Board that violate state law and the Board’s disregard for the clear intent of the General Assembly have opened Virginia to costly litigation. We have known from day one of this administration that abortion will be protected at all costs – including ignoring the well-being of the women who make the unfortunate decision to entire an abortion center in Virginia. Under Terry McAuliffe and Mark Herring, the political ends justify illegal means.
But mark my words, this fight is far from over.
Abortion Centers in VirginiaOct. 21, 2016
Since 2011, when The Family Foundation successfully fought to ensure minimum health and safety standards for Virginia abortion centers, the number of licensed abortion centers statewide has fallen by 25% (from 20 to 15) and the number of annual abortions has dropped by 32%. Just how much of these gains can be attributed to the enforcement of health and safety standards, no one can say with certainty. But one thing is clear: with help from common-sense policies like these, we are winning in the battle over life – both for unborn children and their mothers.
Though we often look to numbers as a metric for progress, numbers never tell the whole story. Those numbers represent thousands of individual lives spared and many women receiving safer care at a time and place where they may feel especially vulnerable or even desperate. It is a tragic choice for anyone to willfully end the life of their own child, but even in the midst of that tragedy, pro-lifers recognize that the mother’s life is still every bit as valuable and worthy of protection as her child. Virginia’s health and safety standards ensure, by force of law, that abortion centers recognize that too.
As it turns out, many of these facilities have been found to be far below even the minimum standards of health and safety. The mandatory state inspections provided for in these regulations enable the outside world to peer into the dark world of abortion centers that is otherwise totally hidden from view. Because of these standards, we are able to expose the terrible conditions and practices within these “clinics” and to prevent abortionists like Kermit Gosnell and Virginia’s own Stephen Brigham from continuing to put women’s lives in jeopardy. In April of this year, that’s exactly what happened to Stephen Brigham’s Fairfax abortion center, when after a 52-page violation report, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s own Department of Health shut it down. Without these standards, that could have never happened.
It’s no wonder then, that the billion dollar abortion industry and its champion Gov. Terry McAuliffe (who received nearly $1.5 million from the abortion industry in his election campaign) is doing everything in its power to strip away every measure of accountability and anything that could dare expose the abysmal conditions within Virginia’s abortion centers. If the last 5 years have proven anything, it is that this fight is anything but over. For nearly the past three years, The Family Foundation has been combatting at every turn this administration’s persistent efforts to roll back those health and safety standards.
This Monday, Oct. 24th, the State Board of Health is scheduled to vote on whether or not it will undo many of those standards for abortion centers. In essence, the 15 members of the Board will determine whether abortionists will get a “free pass” and a “look the other way” from the state in their standards of care, or whether minimum standards of health and safety that impact women under their care will continue to be enforced. Only God knows how they will decide, but it is clear that whatever they choose will have a significant impact on health, safety, and life in Virginia.
We are looking for anyone who is willing and able to attend the meeting on Monday morning, and even possibly to speak during the public comment time. The meeting officially starts at 9:00 A.M. and will be held at Sheraton Inn Airport (4700 S. Laburnum Ave, Richmond, VA 23231). However, you should plan to arrive as early as possible to account for any delays in getting through lines, security, etc. and to ensure you have a seat in the meeting room. Bring a pro-life sign if you can. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to demonstrate the force of pro-life Virginians and our insistence on the promotion and protection of life and health. Most of all, please pray for the meeting, for the members of the Board as they make their decision, and for all the lives that will be impacted as a result of these standards.
I look forward to standing with you for life this Monday morning, bright and early!