Alliance Defending Freedom

Student Religious Liberty On The Line In House Vote Tomorrow!

Monday morning, the House Education Committee narrowly voted 12-10 to report SB 236 to the House floor, as three Republicans joined all seven Democrats in opposition. The bill, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), a longtime defender of religious liberty, is a priority bill for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events. The bill was debated today on the floor and will be voted on tomorrow. Opposition in the committee continued to mislead and claim a parade of horrors that would occur if the bill became law. Coming from the ACLU and other groups, the opposition voiced concern that the bill would confuse school boards and cause a litany of lawsuits. But that assertion is baseless. The law has existed in two states for several years but has not elicited lawsuits. They also allege that it will "coerce" people into hearing a viewpoint that might cause them to feel bad about themselves. Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge) made it clear that the First Amendment does not protect someone from being offended.

Attorneys Rita Dunaway of Virginia Christian Alliance and Jordan Lorence of Alliance Defending Freedom testified in favor of the bill and debunked the opposition's claims. They clarified the case law surrounding religious speech in schools and explained the need to protect students who want to express their religious viewpoint. Too many school teachers and administrators follow a "folk understanding" of the law and discriminate anytime religious speech is uttered in schools. Such actions make religious students second class citizens. Not surprisingly, no one who opposed the bill expressed concern for those students' feelings.

The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings, wear clothing with religious expression, and the like. The bill is based on federal court precedent and case law.

Please click here to contact your Delegate and urge their support of SB 236 when it is voted on by the full House tomorrow!

Celebrate Valentine's Day The Planned Parenthood Way (Hint: It's Not With Flowers And Chocolates)

Remember this? It was Planned Parenthood's disgusting way of "celebrating" Christmas a few years ago — with a sale of gift certificates. That's right. Celebrate the birth of the Lord by giving your pregnant friend an abortion gift certificate. Now, it wants you to celebrate Valentine's Day the Planned Parenthood Way, which no doubt involves plenty of taxpayer purchased birth control. Then, of course, if it doesn't work (and how many government programs do?), Planned Parenthood has your back (or your uterus, as the case may be) covered with "safe and legal abortions." Ericka Anderson of Victory Girls blog gave us the heads up by citing our reports on the findings of the 2012 Virginia abortion center inspection findings.

The "invitation" to celebrate Valentine's Day with Planned Parenthood came in the vine below via Twitter from Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, with the hashtag #WhatWomenNeed. She clouds her shamelessness with calls for healthcare such as mammograms and other screenings, which is fine, except that those procedures barely register on Planned Parenthood's activities.

As Anderson writes:

In case you didn’t know, Planned Parenthood doesn’t have a great track record. While they try to downplay their abortion service, it’s actually a huge part of their business. In fact, last year alone — according to their own annual report, they performed 333,964 abortions. Oh and did I mention they received 45 percent of their revenues from taxpayer-funded government sources during the 2011–2012 fiscal year?

Sarah Torre, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said, "Planned Parenthood regularly opposes commonsense laws that would protect women and children from abortion’s harms. They have been accused of neglecting the health and safety of patients and resisting efforts to improve safety standards. ... Women want and deserve more."

She then cites Casey Mattox of Alliance Defending Freedom who quotes our reports about the abortion center inspections. If you need a reminder of how gruesome these facilities are, read here.

Equating Valentine's Day — contrived as it may be — with abortion on demand is nothing less than nasty and revolting. I don't think any poll of women, no matter how slanted, would find more than a spec of women who crave (or equate) "reproductive services" with Valentine's Day. It shows how much Planned Parenthood thinks of the women it claims to represent. No chocolate or flowers for you, dear!

Maybe it's not as bad as pushing abortion gift certificates for Christmas, but Planned Parenthood has lowered the bar so much, it makes the nasty, nauseating, vile and vulgar pale in comparison to the ghastly and macabre — and does it with a smile on its face. It certainly isn't #WhatWomenWant.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards: Abortions make the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

Fate Of The Marriage Amendment To Be Determined "Soon"

The Family Foundation was joined yesterday morning in Norfolk by Concerned Women for America, FRC Action and hundreds of Christians from churches across Eastern Virginia as we stood up in support of marriage, the Virginia Constitution and in solidarity with the brave and principled attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom. Alliance Defending Freedom was in court officially representing the Clerk of the Court of Prince William County, Michele McQuigg, a former member of the House of Delegates, who is seeking affirmation of the Marriage Amendment in her position, which is charged with issuing marriage licenses. Oral arguments for the challenge to the Marriage Amendment were heard with U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, who promised to make a timely ruling, and said, "You'll be hearing from me soon."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs asserted the amendment, passed by 57 percent of Virginia's voters, was unconstitutional, arguing marriage was a fundamental right and that the institution was not ultimately about children but was instead a symbol of freedom, comparing same-sex marriage to marriage allowed only among freed slaves. Attorney General Mark Herring attended the hearing to watch his solicitor general argue on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys argued the government's interest in marriage is in the upbringing of children by a mother and a father and that there exist no constitutional grounds or precedent to change the law to allow for homosexual unions. Its attorney skillfully outlined how marriage is the one and only relationship that is absolutely essential to the future of humanity. In yet another attempt of the liberal left to redefine beyond recognition an important term, plaintiffs actually stood before the judge and stated that "same-sex couples pro-create."

Outside the hearing, traditional marriage supporters held a rally as well as a news conference that included Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb, Josh Duggar from FRC Action, Alison Howard from Concerned Women for America, and Bishop E.W. Jackson of S.T.A.N.D. Supporters of natural marriage numbered in the hundreds, while only a dozen people supporting same-sex marriage protested outside.

Of course the media's coverage was predictably skewed. For a real representation of what happened, see the video and picture below. More photos from the rally can be seen on our Facebook page. Then, please follow this link and sign the petition asking Attorney General Mark Herring to do his job and defend the Virginia Constitution!

The real news.

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From left, Josh Duggar of FRC Action and a star of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting; The Family Foundation's Victoria Cobb; Alison Howard from Concerned Women for America; and Bishop E.W. Jackson of S.T.A.N.D. 

Discrimination Against Vermont Couple Shows The Real Agenda Of The Left In Virginia

Jim and Mary O'Reilly are perfect examples of the real agenda of those advocating legal protections for sexual behavior. The O'Reillys' own a bed and breakfast in Vermont. That state not only legalized same-sex unions, but has a broad "non-discrimination" law that includes sexual orientation. Consequently, the O'Reillys' were forced by the government to open their facility to same-sex couples despite their own religious convictions. They did, however, with permission from the state's "Human Rights Commission," communicate very clearly with guests their deeply held religious conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman. They never rejected a same-sex couple.

Yet the ACLU, one of the most vocal advocates of so-called "non-discrimination" policies, as well as free speech, partnered with Vermont's Human Rights Commission to sue the O'Reillys' for discrimination. They directly attacked the O'Reillys' approved practice of simply disclosing their religious beliefs about marriage to potential customers. According to Austin Nimocks, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom:

Although the Commission agreed that the O'Reillys' acted in good-faith reliance on its 2005 ruling, the government and the ACLU demanded that the O'Reillys' pay $10,000 to the Commission as a civil penalty and $20,000 to a charitable trust set up by the ACLU's clients. Forced with the prospect of potentially losing their business, the O'Reillys' relented and agreed to these terms in August 2012.

This case was not about access to services-the ACLU's clients were easily able to find a venue for their reception, and the Wildflower's business practice did not deny services to anyone, but merely disclosed the O'Reillys' relevant religious convictions. What the government and the ACLU really objected to was the O'Reillys' mere mention of their views about marriage-views that conflict with the prevailing political orthodoxy in Vermont. For this, the government and ACLU insisted that the O'Reillys' be punished. (Emphasis added.)

"Punished"? For expressing their religious conviction? Not only has religious expression taken a hit, so has freedom of speech. In the past, the ACLU has defended the rights of NAZI and KKK groups to parade through cities, but God forbid (oops! Can't use that word) a family express and practice its religious beliefs on its own property.

This stifling of religious and expression freedoms is the true agenda of Equality Virginia, the ACLU and other advocates for legislation that will be introduced in the 2014 Virginia General Assembly that would add sexual orientation to Virginia's employment non-discrimination law. While our law currently applies only to state government, don't mistake that for the final goal of these groups. They've introduced legislation that would add "sexual orientation" to the state's more broadly interpreted "Human Rights Act." As the executive director of the ACLU said just a couple of years ago during testimony on this proposal, "This is a baby step."

A baby step alright. A baby step toward punishment simply for disclosing your religious conviction about human sexuality.

Some in the Republican Party want to capitulate on this issue, saying that it's a battle not worth fighting, a losing issue — a "divisive social issue" that gets in the way of winning elections. They are exceedingly naive or sadly ignorant of the logical conclusion of elevating sexual activity to protected status in our law. We, however, know exactly what the goals are and therefore will stand our ground and fight for religious liberty and expression.

Caught On Tape: IRS Agent Attempts To Restrain Religious Freedom Of Pro-Life Group

The Texas-based, non-profit organization Pro-Life Revolution received its tax-exempt status from the IRS last week. That sounds fine until you understand it applied for it two-and-a-half years ago. Along the way, the IRS put up several road blocks, one of which was dramatically revealed Monday in an audio recording of an IRS agent trying to discourage Pro-Life Revolution President Ania Joseph from continuing the process (to put it mildly), and telling her if it does continue the process it would have to alter its mission, beliefs and speech, all through a deceptive and factually wrong citation of the law. Throughout the "conversation" — which actually is a diatribe by IRS Exempt Organization Specialist Sherry Wan — Ms. Joseph tries to respond but is either cut off, or never allowed in, by the non-stop Ms. Wan. Hear it for yourself, below (and see John Jalsevac at LifeSiteNews.com for more).

Four months after, Pro-Life Revolution initially applied for its tax-exempt status in January 2011, the IRS sent it a letter

requesting "more information" and an explanation of how the organization's activities are educational or charitable, even though IRS rules specify that an organization need only operate for “one or more” of the three exempt purposes. Ania Joseph nonetheless replied and answered the IRS’s questions.

To further complicate its application process, this past February the IRS requested still more information from Pro-Life Revolution

in another letter and attempted to apply a standard for tax exemption to Pro-Life Revolution that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held to be unconstitutional in 1980. Alliance Defending Freedom pointed this out in a letter responding to the IRS, which finally granted tax-exempt status to the organization in a letter received Thursday.

While the IRS scandal has become common knowledge, the revelation of its tactics still are coming to light. The annoying, deceptive, persistence of Ms. Wan, most likely, is on the mild side of the the IRS' arsenal of liberty squelching weapons. As more are revealed, it will be interesting to see if they in turn will expose those who approved them.

It's Pretty Ugly

Imagine any business that had multiple cases of taxpayer fraud, Medicaid abuse, a history of health and safety violations, including violations of standard practices that put people at risk. Such a business, you would think, would be investigated by the mainstream media and be inviting left wing regulations to the point of nearly closing it down. But there are exceptions to every rule, and for the left, Planned Parenthood is the exception.

The general public's perception of Planned Parenthood is that of a caring non-profit that offers important health care to women. Polling indicates that a majority of Americans are unaware that Planned Parenthood does abortions, and they certainly aren't aware that abortion makes up one-third of their corporate income. They also aren't aware of the cases of Medicaid fraud that have taken place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country.

Our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom are doing all they can to expose Planned Parenthood for what it is — a profit hungry corporation that puts children and women at risk. To expose Planned Parenthood, ADF has created www.itsprettyugly.org, a website that shows the kind of materials Planned Parenthood promotes to our children (warning, some are offensive), a list of current and past lawsuits against Planned Parenthood, and ways that you can help show your friends and neighbors exactly what Planned Parenthood is — a $1.5 billion corporation that hides its true agenda from the public and does all it can to separate parents from their children.

I hope you'll go to www.itsprettyugly.org and learn more about the real Planned Parenthood.

This organization has fought against every common sense bill in Virginia, from banning the gruesome procedure of partial birth abortion to parental involvement with their children to abortion center health and safety standards. They are never held accountable by the mainstream media when it comes to their rhetoric and they are spending millions in Virginia on elections this year alone (including underwriting the website of Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe). It has had success simply because too many people don't really know its true agenda. It's time to uncover the truth.

Protect Your Church Against Homosexual Activist Litigation

If same-sex marriage became legal today, would your church and pastor be protected from lawsuits brought by homosexual activists? In June, the U.S. Supreme Court may decide that homosexual marriage should be a legal right in all 50 states, a decision that would threaten the religious liberty of all who support Biblical values. However, legal experts suggest there are several ways to protect your church from possible sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuits. Alliance Defending Freedom has published several suggestions and guidelines for what churches should add to their bylaws in order for them to protect their religious beliefs. ADF believes there are seven essential items every church should include in its bylaws, including a formal church membership policy and a statement about the church's religious beliefs regarding marriage. For more information, click here and share this information with your pastor and church leaders and even more details are available at the link in the first paragraph.

Attacks Continue On Pregnancy Care Centers

Thursday morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in which Virginia resides, heard oral arguments in two cases from Maryland concerning the unnecessary and unconstitutional regulation of pregnancy care centers. The cases stem from regulations passed in Baltimore and Montgomery County, that require PCCs to post signs and have personnel tell clients that they don't perform abortions, among other things. Essentially, it is the government compelling people in their private conversations to say specific things, a blatant violation of first amendment freedoms, which is likely why the PCCs have won in every court case so far, including an earlier 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel in the Fourth Circuit. Attorneys for the PCCs said this would be a first of its kind violation of free speech if it's upheld in the courts.

But as we know in Virginia, the abortion industry's visceral hatred for anything that competes with its bottom line or offers an alternative to abortion is met with harassment and hostility. You may recall the effort by the abortion industry to regulate PCCs in Virginia just two years ago; an effort based on an "investigative report" by NARAL that was so void of fact or academic rigor that, after two hours of testimony by PCC leaders and clients, the patron of the legislation that would have regulated PCCs, Dr. Ralph Northam, a Democrat senator from Norfolk now running for lieutenant governor, asked that the subcommittee to defeat his own bill! How anyone can take NARAL's word on anything after that day is simply mind boggling.

But truth, facts and logic are no obstacle for the abortion industry. The mainstream media is so sympathetic to its cause that it can't bring itself to report about the bloody exam tables at abortion centers but is more than happy to complain that PCCs don't offer abortion. Consequently, these battles for life are bound to continue. In fact, PCCs are not health care facilities at all and don't do medical procedures, but offer counseling and support services, and referrals to doctors and medical facilities.

The cases should be decided by the court in the next eight to 10 weeks. The cases were heard "en banc," or by the full court, and those present didn't see any clear indication from all the judges on which way the case will go.

After the hearing, we were thrilled to co-host a brief luncheon with Americans United for Life for several of the attorneys involved in the case and pro-life advocates. As always, we are so very grateful to AUL and the Alliance Defending Freedom for their advocacy on behalf of life, and all their great work. We are honored to have such Godly and capable partners in this work!

Campaigns End, But Shaping The Culture Continues

Now that the campaign season is but a memory — all that time and money come, gone and spent in what seems like a flash now, though we thought it interminable when it was in full swing — except here in Virginia, where the campaign year hasn't even come upon us and it's already making national news, it is good to reflect on how to raise the culture as opposed to raising issues for candidates to address. Campaigns once were the place to educate the electorate about issues and sway voters to one side or another. Now, regular voters are so polarized, campaigns are nothing more than a race to identify the voters who mostly agree with either candidate and get those people to the polls. But by educating people in the absence of the vitriol of an election campaign, and instilling a sense of the proper culture, we can do more for our commonwealth and country than $100 million in television ads.

One way we try to do that is through our Pastors for Family Values ministry. During the fall, we hosted our annual Pastors Summit. It already has produced fruit and we are excited about how long lasting the impact will be on Virginia. More than 400 pastors ministry leaders attended and left Richmond motivated, informed and encouraged to be culturally engaged.

The summit, co-hosted by CitizenLink, featured Del Tackett. Dr. Tackett, a former Air Force officer and architect of The Truth Project, was superb in his two speaking sessions, tracing the origins of modern skepticism and presenting a contrast between the God-focus of a Biblical worldview and the self-focus of the secular humanist worldview that is common in the emerging generation. A man of remarkable insight and discernment with a gift for teaching, Dr. Tackett showed how the modern concepts of heart and mind differ from the Biblical view and what implications that has for the core beliefs that shape our thought and actions. It was a clarion call for pastors to affirm a Biblical worldview in such a way that it becomes a transformational belief at the center of who we are.

Pastors also heard from Erik Stanley, senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, about their rights as pastors to speak out on issues and on ADF's "pulpit initiative." ADF is seeking pastors with the boldness to ignore the threats of intimidation by the IRS, and the likes of Mr. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and try to force the IRS to go to court over its attempts to limit free speech. Former U.S. Representative Bob McEwen of Ohio wooed the group with his analysis of the state of the government and its threats to our liberty.

At a separate evening event, Dr. Tackett addressed a crowd of nearly 500 at Richmond's Grove Avenue Baptist Church, where he talked about the inevitability of consequences to our actions, and the fact that acts based on truth bring better outcomes than those based on our emotional decision.

Pastors, and attendees at the evening event, were incredibly motivated. In fact, several pastors attended the Virginia Board of Health meeting the following morning after being motivated to take action at the summit. We are still hearing about pastors around Virginia who have gone back to their churches and are boldly speaking on cultural issues and the necessity of action by the church in Virginia! There is no doubt that this year’s summit will have a lasting impact on the culture of Virginia.

We appreciate all the pastors, ministry leaders and individuals who attended the Summit and the evening with Dr. Tackett. We pray that all who attended were blessed in a unique way and that the excitement and motivation of these events, and others we are planning and which will take place in the near future, will last long into the future. Because long after campaigns are distant memories, long after office holders names are forgotten, the day-to-day efforts needed to educate, motivate and shape the culture will continue to be necessary.

Are We Really Against Women’s Health Care?

At last week's presidential debate (boxing match?), President Barack Obama's obsession with Planned Parenthood came through loud and clear. At one point, among the six times he mentioned the abortion organization, he defended the nation's largest and richest private abortion provider by saying that it deserves your support through taxpayer dollars because it offers preventative women's health care with things like mammograms. To be precise, the president said:

. . . there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms . . .

That statement is one in a long line of attacks on pro-life, conservative Americans who have for years fought to end forced taxpayer subsidization of the $1 billion abortion conglomerate. As with most of the other attacks, it is completely false.

Simply put, Planned Parenthood doesn't offer mammograms. In fact, if the president is accurate, then Planned Parenthood is actually violating federal law and is subject to tens of thousands of dollars in fines!

According to Casey Mattox, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom:

Planned Parenthood is breaking the law because it has no license to perform mammograms. As this letter from the Obama Administration's own Department of Health and Human Services confirms, no Planned Parenthood clinic anywhere in the country is certified to perform mammograms. The Mammogram Quality Standards Act, administered by the Obama HHS, says that "[n]o facility may conduct an examination or procedure . . . involving mammography" without a certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As the FDA explains, there is a good reason Congress wanted to make sure that women were receiving mammograms only from licensed providers: "Congress passed this law in 1992 to assure high-quality mammography for early breast cancer detection, which can lead to early treatment, a range of treatment options, and increased chances of survival." The MQSA is a women's health and safety law, and its licensing requirement is designed to ensure that the mammogram a woman receives is accurate and dependable. Planned Parenthood does not have that required license.

There you have it: If the president is correct, Planned Parenthood routinely violates federal law. If he is not, he simply is lying (or is so misinformed it's frightening) about what Planned Parenthood actually does as part of its defenders' perpetual effort by to paint the abortion conglomerate as focused on "women’s health care" when it is actually all about abortion (about 97 percent of its business comes from abortions).

Once again, the secular left is attempting to paint those who oppose forcing taxpayers to subsidize the nation's largest abortion organization as being opposed to "women’s health care" — thus the contrived and phony "war on women." It is, in fact, Planned Parenthood that has consistently lied about its services and opposed every effort to make its abortion centers safer for women. So, are we really against women's health care? Or, is the Left just redefining "women's health care" as it redefines everything else?

Rallies For Religious Freedom This Weekend!

This Saturday, October 20, tens of thousands of faithful citizens will gather in prayer and public witness in cities and towns all across the United States to oppose the HHS Mandate and stand up in defense of our religious freedoms and First Amendment rights. There are 130 rallies scheduled nationwide, including three in Virginia. Please plan to join these rallies and say no to the new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mandate, which forces employers — including religious charities — to provide free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans or face massive fines.

Initially, this mandate has had the greatest impact on the Catholic Church. However, if it is not reversed, it has the potential to restrict the freedom of religion and conscience of every faith in the entire nation. It is important that those of us who cherish religious liberty, as handed down to us from our forefathers in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, let our voices be heard. We are joining with dozens of state and national pro-life organizations as part of the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Coalition in support of this effort, including Alliance Defending Freedom, Concerned Women for America, Americans United for Life, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and dozens more.

Don't fall for the opposition lie that this is about "birth control access" and "women's health." This simply is an effort by the federal government to force religious institutions and organizations to violate their faith principles and pay for abortion inducing drugs and sterilizations for girls as young as 12 years old. This is about the Left's alleged "wall of separation of church and state" being systematically violated by the state. It's about government control over how we practice our faith and forcing government dictates on it directly contrary to our beliefs. It is about government secularism imposing itself into religion in order to neuter it and its impact on society — a watered down faith is meant to drive people out of the pews and into government care, control and dependency.

All three rallies scheduled in Virginia Saturday are from noon until 1:00 p.m. If you are within driving distance of one of these events, please make every effort to attend.

We also have volunteers at each event with our 2012 Presidential and U.S. Senate Voter Guides, as well as Ballot Question 1, the proposed Virginia Constitutional Amendment to limit the government's power of eminent domain (vote yes). If you would like to pick up copies to distribute them to your church or civic groups, contact these volunteers ahead of time or while you are at the rallies. (You can also read, download and/or electronically share the voter guide at vavotes.net.) The names of our volunteers and their contact information are below, along with the rally details and event coordinator contact information.

Charlottesville

Jackson Park, Jefferson and 4th Street (map)

E-Mail the Charlottesville Rally Captain

TFF Charlottesville Volunteer: Chardon Jenks (434-977-1871) ecjenks@gmail.com

 

Lexington (Sponsored by Knights of Columbus Council 11557)

Hopkins Green, Jefferson and Nelson Streets (map)

E-Mail the Lexington Rally Captain

TFF Lexington Volunteer: Scott Sayre (540-463-2743) scott@sayreinc.com

 

Norfolk

Norfolk Federal Building, 200 Granby Street

Email the Norfolk Rally Captain

TFF Norfolk Volunteer: Daniel Heffington (515-257-3085) also True the Vote Volunteer Coordinator for Virginia)

Pro-Lifers Rally, Board Adopts Regulations!

The Virginia Board of Health Friday voted to adopt strong abortion center safety standards after a long day of competing protests, debate and tension. An estimated crowd of 500 people lined up at the building where the board met, evenly divided between pro-life Virginians and abortion supporters. It was a stark contrast to the June meeting where more than 100 abortion protestors dominated the day and where the board voted to water down abortion center regulations to exempt existing centers from important building standards required by the Code of Virginia. Because Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify those regulations — they didn't meet the demands of the code — the board had to revisit the issue Friday. For weeks both pro-life and pro-abortion groups encouraged people to attend, and hundreds did, in addition to several dozen uniformed and plain clothes police who where there to ensure security.

The day began early, as Family Foundation staff began lining up outside the building at 6 a.m. to ensure we would be in the meeting room to testify. Only 100 seats were available in the room, and only those in the room could testify. After going through security checks, including metal detectors, we settled into the room for a long day.

The difference between this meeting and the one in June was remarkable. That day, the room was dominated by radical pro-abortion protestors and, quite honestly, it was a very spiritually dark day. Friday was radically different. In the room were dozens of pro-life supporters, including several pastors. Those who attended both meetings could feel the difference in the atmosphere. A few pastors who attended our Pastors Summit in Richmond Thursday were there, as were several from the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists.

We could feel the prayers of pastors and pro-life Virginians! I cannot express enough of my gratitude for all of you who attended today's meeting, or who prayed for us. The support was incredible, and I have no doubt it made an impact on the results. During a year where elected officials and others have been viciously attacked by the abortion industry and media, and abortion supporters have mobilized in large numbers, pro-life Virginians needed to show up and prove again that we are the dominant voice in Virginia . . . and show up we did!

Public testimony was extended to one hour (normally 20 minutes) in an attempt to accommodate the crowd. In my testimony, I told the board that after the uncovering last week of more than 80 health and safety violations in nine abortion centers, the industry, which has claimed for years to be safe and in no need of oversight, was not in a position to be trusted and therefore should have no say in how it is regulated. Several other pro-life organizations also testified including the Virginia Catholic Conference, Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists, Family Research Council and the Rutherford Institute. Others attending included the Virginia Society for Human Life, Students For LifeAmericans United for Life and Concerned Women for America Virginia. Our special thanks to Alliance Defending Freedom, which sent a letter to members earlier this week to clarify the board's legal authority and to other groups who encouraged the turnout.

In addition, Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) testified that the General Assembly did not intend to exempt any abortion centers. In 2011, Delegate Byron amended SB 924 to include abortion centers. She said that during the legislative debate, the intent was clear and that the bill was passed by chambers controlled by different parties. Her testimony was crucial to clarify some misunderstanding on the board over whether the General Assembly wanted existing abortion centers to be "grandfathered in" without the building standards. We so appreciate Delegate Byron's willingness to once again stand up for life in a hostile atmosphere, as she did time and again during this year's General Assembly.

Representatives of the abortion industry continued their pattern of deception. Incredibly, one person testified that the industry “supports regulations” but just opposed the building standards. The same individual has testified several years in a row at the General Assembly against bills that would have required only licensing, inspections and emergency equipment!

They also attacked The Family Foundation's release this week of inspection records showing widespread health and safety violations, saying that the centers inspected had received their licenses anyway and that the violations were minor. We don't consider a bloody patient table minor. We don't consider a freezer two-thirds filled with fetal remains and blood minor! But they do. The fact is, however, that those centers were not licensed until after they submitted plans to correct the violations and those centers are now subject to unannounced inspections. For years, they fought against the very inspections they now say they support and that uncovered the problems listed.

But the primary target of the abortion industry was, and still is, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. They continued their assault because he made the decision to uphold the law of Virginia and not certify the regulations in June. Of course, I'm sure they'd rather pick on the AG and cry "politics" instead of having to answer to questions about bloody patient tables, frozen fetal remains and untrained staffs.

The board, however, was not fooled. By an overwhelming vote of 13-2 it rejected several more attempts by one board member to water down the regulations and then voted to adopt the standards by the same vote.

While a major victory, the process to finalize these standards is not finished. They must go through several more steps in the next several months, including two lengthy public comment periods. It is crucial that pro-life Virginians make their voice heard once again during that time. If you spoke or wanted to speak Friday, please write your comments down and hold on to them for submission during the public comment period. We will provide ample notice.

Thanks again to everyone who attended Friday's meeting, testified or prayed. A special thank you to those post-abortive women who attended, some speaking publicly for the first time. We are so grateful and encouraged by your support, and I know the Board of Health members were as well. To get a feel for what it was like at the meeting, please click here for a series of photos.

Pro-life Virginians were not out manned at the crucial Board of Health Meeting Friday. For more scenes from the historic vote, click here or the image above.

Understanding Obamacare's Surprises In Two Entertaining Minutes

It's not quite the Schoolhouse Rock! classic that "I'm Just A Bill" is, but Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) has created a highly entertaining, but extremely serious and informative, animation that explains some of the numerous hideous surprises contained in Obamacare's 2,700 pages that are not widely discussed. For example, if the law was really about healthcare, wouldn't life-saving drugs be free? Not! In fact, Obamacare will increase those costs while making end-of-life drugs free! No only that, but an abortion premium will come out of your paycheck. We thought liberals were all about choice and against government coercion. Gag rules, forced compliance, restrictions on religious liberty and more are documented in two entertaining minutes. Although the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare, there still are conscience clause and First Amendment aspects of it that currently face legal challenges, with ADF thoroughly involved in those cases. On its Obamacare page, linked above, it has an update and a synopsis of these troubling, religious-freedom-restricting sections of the law. It's blog (also linked above) provides more involved details. It will leave you shaking your head in disgust. But if you're going to be appalled at something, you might as well be entertained by it. So, please watch this video and share it with as many people and on your social media sites. The more who are aware, the better chances we have of its eventual repeal.

Alliance Defending Freedom explains the surprises buried in 2,700 pages of Obamacare.