HB 334

Another Year In The Committee Of Death

The Senate Education and Health Committee richly deserves its "Committee of Death" moniker — it has been the graveyard for pro-life legislation for most of the decade. No pro-life bill has survived this committee regardless of its simplicity or common sense. As usual, a valuable bill that would have improved the safety regulations of the Commonwealth’s abortion centers was defeated there yesterday on a vote of 11-4 — a party line vote, with the exception of Senator Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), who voted against the bill as he did last year. Patroned by Delegate Matt Lohr (R-26, Harrisonburg), HB 393 would require that these unregulated surgical facilities that perform abortions to be inspected, have emergency life-saving equipment, and be overseen by a state regulatory agency just as any other outpatient surgical center. This legislation has long been a pro-life priority. Delegate Lohr eloquently pointed out to the committee the disparity between how these unregulated surgical abortion centers are treated compared to other medical facilities. As inexplicable as it is, 11 members of the committee believe that incredibly less invasive procedures such as lasik surgery, blood donation, face lifts, colonoscopies and oral surgery should be held to higher standards than abortion procedures.

Perhaps most alarming was Dr. Wendy Klein, from the VCU School of Medicine, who claimed, "Abortion is the safest medical procedure you can have!" The opposition to HB 393 cited the National Abortion Federation, an association that oversees seven abortion centers in Virginia, as a reliable self-regulatory organization. However, as I clarified in my testimony, this is far from reassuring. For example, NAF requires only a midlevel clinician (not necessarily a physician) to perform an abortion procedure. Fortunately, Virginia Code protects against this, but clearly NAF guidelines, as exemplified in this one standard, cannot be assumed sufficient!

Countering these arguments, in addition to Delegate Lohr and The Family Foundation, were a number of organizations that clearly outnumbered the pro-abortion forces, including representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, Virginia Society For Human Life and the Virginia Catholic Conference.

Dr. Klein was at it again on HB 334, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas). This bill, also defeated yesterday on the exact same 11-4 vote, would bolster Virginia's informed consent law by making available to women seeking abortions statistics that show the difficulties of future pregnancies and births to women who previously had abortions (as much as eight times higher). She said that bill presumes women can't figure out things for themselves. So, she admits there are risks!

Even more shocking was Senator Dick Saslaw's (D-35, Springfield) response to the citation of the House of Delegates vote on this bill (95-2). He said a member told him it got that many votes because many who voted for it knew "we'd kill it over here." Aside from the crass cynicism and joy he seemed to take in those seemingly vindictive words, if Senator Saslaw is correct, it shows that an overwhelmingly large amount of Virginians favor this type of legislation and that their representatives are afraid to vote against their constituents' interests. The pro-abortion crowd can't have it both ways.

While it is difficult to stand before this committee year in and year out with such reasonable legislation only to see it killed, we appreciate the legislators who are willing to continue to force lawmakers to go on record opposing this legislation. The Family Foundation remains committed to fighting for pro-life and pro-family issues.

There Are Pro-Life Dems Just As There Are "Pro-Choice" Republicans

Democrats For Life of America, Inc.
DFLA -The pro-life voice within the Democratic Party
_____________________________________________________________
FEDERAL ADVISORY BOARD
U.S. Representative
Jerry Costello (D-IL)
U.S. Representative
Licoln Davis (D-TN)
U.S. Representative
James Langevin (D-RI)
U.S. Representative
Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
U.S. Senator
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
U.S. Representative
James Oberstar (D-MN)
U.S. Representative
Tim Ryan (D-OH)
U.S. Representative
Bart Stupak (D-MI)
U.S. Representative
Gene Taylor (D-MS)
NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD
Helen Alvare (DC)
Nat Hentoff (NY)
The Honorable Chris John (LA)
The Honorable John LaFalce (NY)
The Honorable Charlie Stenholm (TX)
The Honorable Tim Roemer (IN)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Alabama
Joe Turham
California
Paul Contino
Georgia
Silvia Delamar
Massachusetts
Brian Keaney (Secretary/Treasurer)
Minnesota
Janet Robert (President)
Missouri
Joan Barry (Vice-Preisent)
New York
Carol Crossed (Vice-President
Chapter Development)
Ohio
Lou Koenig
Pennsylvania
Pat Casey
Texas
Lois Kerschen (Secretary/Treasurer)
March 3, 2010 Dear Chairman Houck and Members of the Committee,
Democrats For Life of America supports HB 393 and urges you to support this important legislation.
Abortion can be a divisive issue. We, at Democrats For Life of America, have worked to find areas of agreement where, regardless of one’s position on abortion, people can agree on good policy.
While we oppose abortion, we have worked for over five years on our 95-10 Initiative with the goal of reducing abortion by providing women who experience unplanned pregnancies with assistance so they will have the resources and support to bring their child to term. But some women will still see abortion -- a surgical procedure -- as their only option. So it is essential that we protect their health and safety under proper standards of care.
HB 393 is good policy, which provides for only three basic provisions any facility that performs invasive surgery should be asked to accommodate: an annual inspection, a license and having life-saving equipment on location. Certainly, we can agree that these are reasonable for anyone who thinks abortion should be legal, but safe. HB 393 is an opportunity both sides of this issue to come together to do what is best for Virginia’s women.
If this were any other procedure, the facility would be licensed by the Commonwealth and subject to reasonable regulations. We should not think of this as an infringement on abortion rights, but a good bill to protect Virginia women from potentially unsafe situations.
We urge the Committee to vote for this common-sense measure to protect the women of Virginia.
Sincerely,
Kristen Day

This morning was the Senate Education and Health Committee's annual "Black Thursday" — each session, the committee hears the pro-life bills passed by the House of Delegates on the last Thursday of its calendar and promptly kills them. It did this under Republican control and continues to do so under Democrat control. Under Democrat control, however, the committee was stacked in a way out of proportion 10-5 majority despite only having a two-seat advantage in the chamber (see "Senate Math" here).

This year, it did no less. It killed HB 393 and HB 334 on 11-5 votes, with Republican Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk) joining the 10 Democrats in not being able to bring himself to vote for life-saving equipment in abortion centers nor providing women considering abortion accurate information about the risks of future pregnancies and births. It left HB 1042 to die without a hearing when Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) was unable to attend the meeting.

However, just as not all Republicans are not pro-life (Senator Quayle and others), not all Democrats are "pro-choice." For several years now, we have been proud to ally ourselves with Democrats For Life of America, a national organization of pro-life Democrats, with chapters in several states. It works to bring the pro-life philosophy to the Democrat Party and boasts several high-profile elected officials, such as U.S. Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), author of the Stupak Amendment in the House version of the health care "reform" bill. The amendment bans federal funding of abortion or mandates on insurance companies to cover abortion. DFL issued a letter last night in support of HB 393. It is below in its entirety, including its Board members. We salute the continued good work and success of Democrats For Life of America.

______________________________________________________________

Democrats For Life of America, Inc.

DFLA - The pro-life voice within the Democratic Party

_____________________________________________________________

March 3, 2010

Dear Chairman Houck and Members of the Committee:

Democrats For Life of America supports HB 393 and urges you to support this important legislation.

Abortion can be a divisive issue. We, at Democrats For Life of America, have worked to find areas of agreement where, regardless of one’s position on abortion, people can agree on good policy.

While we oppose abortion, we have worked for over five years on our 95-10 Initiative with the goal of reducing abortion by providing women who experience unplanned pregnancies with assistance so they will have the resources and support to bring their child to term. But some women will still see abortion -- a surgical procedure -- as their only option. So it is essential that we protect their health and safety under proper standards of care.

HB 393 is good policy, which provides for only three basic provisions any facility that performs invasive surgery should be asked to accommodate: an annual inspection, a license and having life-saving equipment on location. Certainly, we can agree that these are reasonable for anyone who thinks abortion should be legal, but safe. HB 393 is an opportunity both sides of this issue to come together to do what is best for Virginia’s women.

If this were any other procedure, the facility would be licensed by the Commonwealth and subject to reasonable regulations. We should not think of this as an infringement on abortion rights, but a good bill to protect Virginia women from potentially unsafe situations.

We urge the Committee to vote for this common-sense measure to protect the women of Virginia.

Sincerely,

Kristen Day

Executive Director

Pro-Life Bills Up Thursday In Senate Ed And Health

This Thursday the Senate Education and Health Committee will vote on several pro-life bills that are priorities of The Family Foundation. Please contact the members of the Ed and Health committee (see here) and urge them to pass the following bills:

HB 334 (Delegate Bob Marshall, R-13, Manassas): This bill would require that our Informed Consent law be updated to include information that has been published in a peer reviewed medical journal about the consequences of abortion on future pregnancies. Ironically, Planned Parenthood, which has accused pregnancy resource centers of disseminating information that is not "medically accurate," is opposed to this bill that requires the information given to women at Virginia's unregulated abortion centers to be exactly that —  medically accurate.

HB 393 (Delegate Matt Lohr, R-26, Harrisonburg): This legislation would require Virginia’s unregulated abortion centers to have on site life saving equipment, as well as require licensing and regular inspection. Currently, Virginia’s abortion centers are unregulated and uninspected.

HB 1042 (Delegate Kathy Byron, R-22, Lynchburg): This bill would require that unregulated abortion centers perform an ultrasound to better determine the gestational age of the unborn child prior to an abortion, and offer the woman seeking the abortion the opportunity to view the ultrasound. It would bring Virginia's Informed Consent law in line with modern medical technology.

If you are familiar at all with the Virginia General Assembly then you are aware just how antagonistic the majority of the Ed and Health committee usually is toward even the most reasonable pro-life legislation. On an annual basis, we see pro-life bills die on what we have begun to call "Black Thursday" — the last Thursday of committee hearings each session.

Why, bother contacting these legislators who seem so clearly opposed to protecting the unborn? There are several reasons:

First, past votes are not always indications of future action. Legislators change their minds. You may recall Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath), while running for governor, talking about "growing" as a legislator (he was referring to his flip-flop on the Marriage Amendment). We have worked with legislators who have become more and more pro-life over their time in the legislature, often through the education process associated with debate over these bills.

Which leads to a second reason, education. These bills offer us the opportunity to educate both legislators and the public on these important issues. They give you the opportunity to discuss controversial issues with friends and neighbors by talking about reasonable measures often supported by large majorities. Each time we present these bills to a committee we are able to reach more people with the message of the importance of protecting both the unborn and women who face a crisis pregnancy. You never know when a legislator is going to hear an argument that is going to change their opinion of a certain piece of legislation.

Finally, these votes expose where legislators currently are on reasonable abortion measures. Several members of the Ed and Health committee are in districts that have a pro-life  constituency. These senators mask as "moderate," but their voting records on these bills have exposed their real positions. Next year, when these senators are up for re-election, the voters in their districts will know exactly where they stand on these issues because they will have a four-year voting record to look at. Voters will then be able to hold them accountable for their votes.

So, please do your part. Contact the members of the Ed and Health committee and urge them to support HB 334, HB 393 and HB 1042.