I write this with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am pleased to announce that efforts to repeal the updated informed consent law that allows a mother to view the image of her unborn child prior to deciding to have an abortion; to overturn abortion center safety standards; and to redefine "birth control" to include abortifacients, were thwarted on 8-7 party line votes this morning in the Senate Education and Health Committee. Even earlier in the morning, a House sub-committee defeated an attempt to repeal the safety standards on a unanimous, bipartisan vote. However, the Senate committee also killed SB 826, which would have eliminated state funding for abortions of children with disabilities, 8-7 as well. My heart grieves that the policy of the commonwealth will remain a policy that denies the intrinsic worth of every life, no matter the challenges they may or may not face.
First and foremost, The Family Foundation would like to extend its utmost gratitude to Senator Tom Garrett (R-22, Louisa) for his bravery and impeccable defense of life through his willingness to patron and actively advocate on behalf of SB 826. Make sure his courage and sacrifice do not go unnoticed. Please contact Senator Garrett (firstname.lastname@example.org) to express your thanks for his principled stand despite dissuasion from those both outside and within his party.
Parents of children with disabilities, a perinatal nurse, representatives from pro-life organizations (including The Family Foundation), and a lobbyist for the Virginia Catholic Conference who, although diagnosed with cerebral palsy, defied all predictions and now lives life to the fullest, testified on behalf of SB 826. The Catholic Conference lobbyist boldly challenged members of the committee to tell him that his life is one not worth living! One father, who attended with his adopted daughter who was born without limbs, testified about his adopted son, George. Born without arms, George has become an accomplished guitar, cello and piano player, and has played for bands with national acclaim, including the Goo Goo Dolls.
George, who would qualify under current law to be aborted with taxpayer funds, proves that he is not "incompatible with life." Click here to view a moving video of George's family — many of whom would qualify to be aborted with taxpayer money under the current law. The perinatal nurse spoke to her experience of providing palliative care to the unborn and newly born, and the healing that even a few hours of life of a severely disabled newborn brings to a hurting family.
The opposition then stood up and made claims that abortion is the "compassionate choice." It was unconscionable on the heels of such moving, emotional testimony from disabled children, adoptive parents, and a perinatal nurse. In an unfortunate end to the debate, Senator Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake), bowing to political pressure, joined all seven Democrats to defeat the bill.
The committee then considered the bill to repeal the updated informed consent law. This legislation was passed last year to allow women the opportunity to see a picture of their unborn child prior to making a life-altering decision. While ultrasounds were protocol prior to the legislation (the abortion industry even admits it), abortionists were hiding the picture from women to prevent the possibility of women changing their minds, reducing profit. This window into the womb is powerful and, no matter the choice of a woman, it allows her a more informed choice and reduces regret. Ultimately, the ultrasound addition to informed consent is about requiring an abortionist to turn the screen. The Family Foundation testified to the importance of this law. Abortion activists, Planned Parenthood, the Virginia chapter of NOW, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, the ACLU, and the Medical Society of Virginia testified in favor of repealing the ultrasound law. However, the committee was not convinced and defeated it.
During the abortion center safety debate, the abortion industry lined up speakers praising abortion centers and the "good work" they do. One man, an OB-GYN, testified on behalf of the abortion industry and praised the safety of the abortion procedure and stated that he was unaware of any abortion complications — a fascinating proclamation since emergency responders have arrived to at least two abortion centers in Virginia in the very recent past, and abortion center licensure inspections report at least four complications during abortion procedures.
A woman who testified is an employee at A Capital Women's Health Clinic (an abortion center in Richmond). She wore a t-shirt that read, "Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been keeping an eye on your vagina, so we're keeping an eye on him." After she pleaded for repeal of the regulations (based on false claims), Senator Garrett questioned her about the specific deficiencies found at her center and whether or not she believed those deficiencies constituted "safety and health" for women. The deficiencies included that the sponge used to clean instruments is only changed once per week; and three of nine employees have access to controlled substances, yet are not licensed by the Board of Pharmacy.
The woman did not provide sufficient explanations , but instead diverted to another portion of the bill in an attempt to distract from the truth — abortion facilities are not focused on the health and safety of women. Chris Freund testified for The Family Foundation, reporting the results of the Virginia abortion center inspections: bloody procedure tables, unsterilized and blood splattered equipment, untrained staff and more — more than 100 violations in only 20 abortion centers, even though the inspections were announced in advance! He also noted that the same year the bill enabling the regulations passed, this same committee defeated a bill that only required an inspection, a license and emergency life saving equipment. He also noted the lack of credibility of pro-abortion advocates who now claim to support inspections when they so vigorously opposed them for years.
While we are disappointed by the failure of the committee to acknowledge the value of life and pass SB 826, The Family Foundation is encouraged by the common sense of the committee to block the repeal of the update to the informed consent law and abortion center safety regulations. The Family Foundation will continue to support life, no matter the worth others may place on that life. Again, please contact Senator Tom Garrett (email@example.com) and express your sincere thanks for his courage today.