HB 2634

Tomorrow, In Ed & Health

Tomorrow, the infamous Senate Education and Health Committee will vote on two pro-life measures. While the committee has seen these bills in past years and defeated them, we will once again bring these reasonable pro-life bills to it for consideration. HB 2579, patroned by Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) is a bill that would provide a woman contemplating abortion the option to view her ultrasound prior to an abortion. This is merely an update to the informed consent laws already on the books in Virginia. Currently, a woman is offered a pamphlet with generic pictures showing gestational age; however, an ultrasound would give the woman information specific to her child.

Furthermore, an ultrasound provides for a "safer" abortion in that the gestational age of the child is known, not guessed. After 13 weeks gestation, an abortion must be performed in a hospital — an ultrasound can determine the age. HB 2579, therefore, provides for medical as well as legal responsibility, safety for the mother, and truly informed consent.

While HB 2579 passed the House with a vote of 62-36, it is likely to face increased scrutiny in the Senate committee coined the "graveyard" and the "Committe of Death" for its infamous reputation for killing pro-life bills. However, with your prayers and action, anything is possible. Please urge these Senators to vote for HB 2579 and, with that vote, make a pro-woman, pro-child decision.

Another pro-life bill, HB 2634, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Rockbridge) also will be before the committee. This important piece of legislation would add information about the sensitivity to pain of unborn children to informed consent materials. This bill passed the House of Delegates, 64-34.

There is overwhelming medical evidence which suggest that an unborn baby does experience the discomfort we refer to as pain. This being the case there is an issue on which all sides of the abortion debate could join together. It's common sense and it's compassionate — provide information to the mother that lets her know her unborn child can feel pain, and allow her the option of having anesthesia administered to her unborn child undergoing an abortion procedure. 

As straightforward and sympathetic as this might seem, there are forces right here in the Commonwealth who are in opposition to such a suggestion. The good news is you can make your voice heard louder than theirs and once again stand up for those who can't speak for themselves.

Although these bills will meet a tough challenge you can make a difference by contacting members of the Senate Education and Health Committee (click here for contact information) now and letting them know you want them to support this compassionate measure.

Interview With Delegate Dave Marsden

Here is our interview with Delegate Dave Marsden (D-41, Burke). We submitted the questions to him via e-mail and he replied and returned them to us within a couple of days. Here it is in its entirety — as the questions were submitted and as his answers were written — without editing. Familyfoundationblog: Delegate Marsden, thank you for joining us for this blog interview. Contrary to what some believe, we're all about bi-partisanship. Thanks for helping us reach out and build some bridges. More people should know we may disagree on some issues, but that both sides have a healthy respect for the opposite side's rights and duties to represent their points of view.   

Let's get to the questions:

Familyfoundationblog: Everyone's talking about the deficit and the budget this session. Who's fault is it that we have this deficit? Aside from the budget, what issues will be the biggest this session and what are your expectations for this year's session? How's it gone so far?   Delegate Dave Marsden: We have an outdated tax system prone to significant swings. Some of the proposals for funding transportation border on the ridiculous. This session has been fine, but budget decisions will be the most important issue.

Familyfoundationblog: Every year an interesting bill, whether ridiculous or of substance, flies under the radar, gains some momentum and causes a bit of a stir. Have you seen any such bill yet? If not, what bills not on the radar do you think are worthy of more attention?

Delegate Dave Marsden: None   Familyfoundationblog: Over the last few election cycles, House Democrats have steadily increased their numbers. To what do you attribute this? What have the Democrats done right, what have the Republicans done wrong, or is it just a matter of changing demographics in Virginia, especially where you are from, in Northern Virginia?   Delegate Dave Marsden: Republicans are voting ideologically and not solving problems.

Familyfoundationblog: Many people have the wrong idea, mainly because of the media's portrayal, but the General Assembly does about 95 percent of its work in a mostly bi-partisan manner. In the past social conservatives, moderates and liberals have worked on Pay Day Lending together and this year, even Planned Parenthood agreed with us on a bill (HB 1980, as amended, abstinence education/FLE). On what areas can conservatives, moderates and liberals work together?

Delegate Dave Marsden: My Civil Law sub-committee is the best example of non-partisan legislation I have seen, since I have been here.   Familyfoundationblog: You are on the Courts of Justice Committee and two priority Family Foundation bills will (or have) come before the committee: HB 2634 (Unborn Child Pain Information) and HB 2579 (Ultrasound Viewing Before an Abortion). Critics say these are "extreme" bills, but most people think information and making informed decisions on anything in life, especially about life and health, is good and commonsense. What are your positions on these bills and why do you support or oppose them?

Delegate Dave Marsden: I do not support these bills. People should make their decisions without external mandates from the State. Also these bills are expensive and time consuming, which leaves the question, who pays?   Familyfoundationblog: Another priority bill for us is HB 2314 (Religious Liberty for State Police Chaplains). Do you agree with the state police superintendent's decision to not let the chaplain's pray "In Jesus' name"? Isn't that their duty if they are Christian Chaplains?

Delegate Dave Marsden: We are not supposed to pray that way in the House of Delegates sessions, but we break that rule all the time.   Delegate Marsden, thank you for your time during this very busy portion of session. We hope you enjoyed the experience and will come back again.

As Crossover Approaches, It's All To Play For

Tuesday is "crossover" day in the General Assembly, the day when work on bills from their respective chambers must be complete. The past two weeks have been long and intense, as you have been able to tell by reading this blog and by the number of e-mail alerts you've received. (If you don't receive our e-mail alerts, you should. They are informative, fun, fast and have received critical acclaim. People tell us that when they read them, they feel as if they were in the committee room. Click here to sign up.)   Several bills in The Family Foundation's bill profile were acted on recently. Here's an update:

SB 1270: Abortion Center Licensing Requirement (Support)

This legislation, introduced by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), would have required abortion centers to become licensed, have life-saving equipment in their facilities and submit to one yearly inspection. It was drafted to make abortion centers safer for the women who visit them. In fact, the original bill had numerous regulations, many of which pro-abortion activists claim are onerous and designed put these centers out of business. Anticipating this argument, Senator Vogel stripped down the bill to the three simple requirements listed above.

The fact is that there are several types of medical facilities that are much less invassive, such as podiatry centers; and altogether different types of facilities, such as puppy mills, that have much tougher regulations. Furthermore, all medical disciplines and specialities have oversight by peer review boards, with the notable exception of abortionists.

Finally, the pro-abortion side traditionally argues that the Board of Medicine regulates Virginia's abortion clinics. Fine. Senator Vogel presented SJ 276, which the Senate passed unanimously last year, that slams the Board of Medicine, citing a 1999 JLARC report, that discovered "the Board of Medicine  took too long to resolve cases, did not adequately protect the public from substandard practice by doctors, and did not handle medical malpractice cases adequately," among other charges. When confronted with its hypocrisy and the truth, the pro-abortion side did the only thing it could do — ignore it.

So, this bill, which seemed like a logical and bipartisan issue, failed in the Senate Education and Health Committee by a party line vote of 10-5. So much for "safe, legal and rare." Instead, in Virginia, abortion centers remain an exempted class, untouchable and protected by their overlords in the Senate. Read more about this issue here and see video of the Ed and Health hearing here.

SB 801: "Choose Life" License Plates (Support)

This legislation, from Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), not only would have created "Choose Life" license plates, but would have sent part of the proceeds from the plates to pregnancy resource centers around Virginia. The bill was debated in the Senate Transportation Committee. Of course, the opposition denounced the plates, claiming they are political in nature and out of the purview for recognition.

Even more infuriating, a family practitioner unashamedly attacked crisis pregnancy centers in her testimony. The bill died in committee by a vote of 6-6 with Senators Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) and John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian) abstaining. Senator Blevins was in the room up until just before the vote and then walked out — leaving a "proxy" vote of "abstain" behind.

HB 2579: Informed Consent, Ultrasound Requirement (Support)

Delegate Kathy Bryon's (R-22, Lynchburg) bill would require abortionists to take an ultrasound and allow the woman to view it if she desires before having an abortion. The Family Foundation supports this bill not only because it would give women medically accurate information to aid their decision making, but also with hopes that more women would choose life after clearly seeing that life inside them. The House Courts of Justice Committee reported this bill 15-6. It now goes to the House floor.   

HB 2634: Providing Information on Fetal Pain

Another informed consent bill, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), would require that a woman be told that her unborn child could feel pain during the abortion process and provide her with information on anesthesia for the child. Again, the House Courts of Justice Committee passed this bill 17-5, and the House will vote on it this week. See some of the sub-committee debate here.  

HB 1624, HB 1625, HB 1726, HB 2385, SB 945, SB 1247:  Legislation on "Sexual Orientation" (Oppose)

With homosexual rights advocates feeling emboldened by recent election victories, every effort has been made this legislative season to make sure that the term "sexual orientation" finds its way into Virginia code. It has been attempted in every form from group life insurance and housing discrimination, to making sure that it becomes a protected class under Virginia's human rights laws. Any incremental step they believe they can take, they will. Thankfully, we can report that all efforts to expand the homosexual agenda have failed thus far, with the exception of SB 945 (life insurance). 

These battles are far from over and other skirmishes over other issues undoubtedly will materialize. If ever it was all to play for, this year's second half is it.

Feeling No Pain?

Another priority bill each year is legislation that would require that women seeking an abortion be informed of the possibility that her unborn child feels pain. Earlier this week the House Courts Committee passed HB 2634, and the full House will vote on the bill Monday or Tuesday.  Here is a clip from a Courts subcommittee meeting: