Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell added a pro-life amendment to an ObamaCare induced bill — Delegate Terry Kilgore's HB 2434, that directs the Commonwealth to set up health insurance exchanges in accordance with the new law. (Under ObamaCare, if states don't act to establish their own exchanges and rules, the federal government will do ti for them.) The governor's amendment would restrict the proposed and mandated health insurance exchanges from covering abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. Without such change to the bill, pro-life citizens will be coerced into funding the unethical destruction of human life. His amendment also would prohibit insurance companies from selling optional riders that cover those same abortion services. Typically, NARAL went ballistic (see the Washington Post VIrginia Politics Blog, a Post news article and the Richmond Times-Dispatch; we're quoted in all three), although the amendment reflects decades-old federal policy under the Hyde Amendment. Now, the General Assembly must accept the governor's amendment at next Wednesday's veto session. During this year's General Assembly session, similar health insurance abortion funding opt-out language was passed by the House of Delegates twice with overwhelming majorities, but was defeated in the Senate. The Senate voted on a procedural motion, at the end of session, to strike a bill almost identical to Governor McDonnell’s language. It succeeded on a 22-18 party line vote. Since the governor's language strictly is a policy vote, not a procedural vote, we hope to urge at least two pro-life Democrats to support the amendment.
Of course, this is nothing new. Whether it is a widely-passed bipartisan House bill or a governor's amendment, the Senate remains the body that blocks nearly every pro-life effort, and has done so for several years. Over the last several days, The Family Foundation has mobilized citizens across Virginia to contact key senators so that they know Virginians want this amendment passed. It is clear that it will not be until the Senate reflects the values of Virginia that we will see many victories. The opportunity to make those changes is quickly approaching, as all 40 Senate seats are up for election in November.
We believe the key to sustaining the amendment lies with five key senators: Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell). Contact these senators now and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell's abortion funding opt-out amendment for health insurance exchanges on HB 2434.
You can contact them by calling their district offices (numbers below) or by clicking on their names for their e-mail addresses:
Senator Quayle: 757-483-9173
Senator Watkins: 804-379-2063
Senator Reynolds: 276-638-2315
Senator Colgan: 703-368-0300
Senator Puckett: 276-979-8181