Informed Consent Law

Wild Day At General Assembly Ends With Several Victories

With the first two weeks of this year's short session progressing at a less than brisk pace, it was inevitable that the start of the last week before "crossover" would be hectic. Monday did not disappoint. No less than three important sub- or full committee meetings, starting at 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. with maxed-out dockets, were scheduled. The House Privileges and Elections Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments offered up the first good news of the day when it voted to report HJ 684, patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), which would allow the Board of Education to approve charter schools as a way to get around obstructionist local school divisions that now have sole authority to approve them — and the reason Virginia only has four charter schools.  Then the House Education Committee heard debate and voted to report HB 1442, the "Tebow Bill," patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albermarle), which would allow homeschooled students to play sports for their local public school; HB 1617, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Shenandoah), which protects college student groups from allowing membership to those who fundamentally disagree with the organization's mission; and HB 1871, a bullying definition bill successfully amended to ensure that it punishes bullies not based on the characteristics of the victim, but on the act of the bully. Additional language added to the bill ensures First Amendment protections.

Passage of the homeschool sports bill and the college student group protection act are legislative priorities for The Family Foundation. The latter would allow student groups at Virginia state colleges to organize according to their beliefs. Unfortunately, some universities around the country have enacted "all-comers" policies that essentially eliminate these groups from being able to set criteria for their members and leaders. Free association is protected by the constitution and this bill seeks to clarify that. It passed by a 19-2 vote. It also passed a similar bill affecting children of military personnel who constantly are re-stationed at various bases or deployed, but whose children stay in the same area with a relative.

Then, the shocker of the day: Overcoming the predictable opposition of the public schools, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-6 to report the Parents Rights Bill, SB 908, patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Fredericksburg). It reaffirms Virginia court rulings that parental rights are "fundamental" into state code. This is significant, because fundamental rights are treated with much more deference by the judiciary than "ordinary" rights.

The afternoon was busier. Senator Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) introduced his second bill of the session in the Education and Health Committee to repeal the ultrasound update to Virginia's informed consent law. Because of its redundancy, committee chairman Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), wasted no time in public debate and it died quickly on an 8-3 vote, prompting Senator Northam to call the committee a "kangaroo court."

The House Courts of Justice Committee had a full docket as well. After debate, it killed on a 10-6 vote HB 1644, patroned by Delegate Vivian Watts (D-39, Annandale), which would have changed the definition of birth control in the Virginia Code to include abortifacients, including the morning after pill. While advocates claimed it was an innocuous bill, it would have forced pharmacists against their conscience to dispense abortifacients to those 17 and younger. Later, after many questions of concern their Senate counterparts did not have, the committee voted to pass by until Friday the House version of the Parents Rights Bill, HB1642, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, James City).

Please contact members of the House Courts of Justice Committee and urge them, especially if your delegate is on the committee, to pass HB 1642, to secure basic, fundamental rights of Virginia parent in state code! 

Please also contact your senator to vote yes on SB 908 on the Senate floor and no to any motion that would re-refer it to committee or otherwise kill it.

If that wasn't enough, sub-committee meetings started in the evening, highlighted by one of the most talked about bills of session, "The Right To Farm Act," a property rights bill. The highlight of that meeting is detailed in a brief, must read post, here.

Things are moving quickly this week. Please watch your e-mail, this blog and our Facebook and Twitter accounts — which often allow us to update you on events much more quickly — to get the latest news and information on what action to take with your delegates and senators in promoting traditional, conservative family values policies  in Virginia.

When It Comes To NARAL's Report Card, Failure IS An Option For Virginia!

In some bright news amidst the regular drumbeat of negative national and state reports, Virginia earned a coveted grade from NARAL Pro-Choice America last week — an "F" in protecting abortion on demand! My message to them: You ain’t seen nothing yet!

However, just a quick glance at NARAL’s criteria for Virginia’s stellar grade conveys just how out of the mainstream NARAL actually is when it comes to abortion. For example, one strike against us is that we "ban a safe abortion procedure." That procedure is the brutal act of partial birth infanticide!

Another strike? We require "biased-counseling requirements and mandatory delays" prior to abortion. That would be the vastly popular and reasonable Informed Consent law. The bias-counseling? A pamphlet that describes the gestational development of an unborn child!

It gets better. Virginia also "restricts young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental consent." Imagine that, requiring a parent be involved in a medical procedure when a teenager is the patient!

They also claim that Virginia law "subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions." What would that be? We don’t allow women to be subjected to second and third trimester abortions inside unregulated and uninspected abortion centers, but instead require that they be done in hospitals.

All that before we even get to the lies. In one place they claim Virginia restricts low income women’s access to abortion when, in fact, Virginia is one of only 17 states that goes beyond federal requirements and pays for low income abortions that are "elective."

While we can all be somewhat proud of this failing grade, to me, we have a long way to go to restore a respect for human life in Virginia. That will happen when we finally require Virginia’s abortion centers to be regulated and inspected; when we no longer force taxpayers to fund Planned Parenthood and low income abortions; when we bring our Informed Consent laws into the 21st century by requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

So, although we don't think we truly deserve an "F," we hope you celebrate it for a moment. Then, let's all get back to work to truly earn that grade next year.

2009 Lobby Day Especially Crucial; Great Speaker Confirmed

We're busy counting down the days. But while we're all preparing for Christmas, we have a dual countdown — the start of the 2009 General Assembly. Believe it or not, it's less than three weeks until our lawmakers return to Richmond to deal with the in-deficit budget. That means also time to remind our legislators of the principles we expect them to protect and promote during this upcoming important election year, even with the budget as a convenient distraction.

You can do your part by joining us in Richmond for:

Family Foundation Day at the Capitol on January 19, 2009!

9:00 a.m. - Afternoon

Richmond Marriott

500 East Broad Street

At this free-of-charge event, you can meet with and encourage your legislators to, among other things:

» Support a proposal that adds a requirement to teach about the positive benefits of marriage in the Family Life Education curriculum.

» Address the Kaine administration's decision to forbid chaplains from praying in Jesus name;

» Make the state budget more transparent by placing it online and ensuring that it is easily searchable; and

» Encourage support of bills that update and improve Virginia's Informed Consent Law.

All you have to do is register, at no charge, by January 13. We'll arrange meetings with your delegate and/or senator. We take care of the details; you just need to be here on January 19. Especially now, when so many pundits and liberal politicians have pronounced conservatism and traditional values issues dead, we want to have hundreds of pro-family Virginians lining the halls of the General Assembly Building to show them and our lawmakers quite the opposite is true.

In addition, we've lined up great speakers, including legislators as well as Jordan Lorence, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a nationally known expert on several issues that affect religious conservatives. He will specifically address religious liberty issues and the case of the Virginia State Police chaplains who resigned in protest when ordered to cease praying in Jesus' name.

As a preview of how good a speaker Jordan Lorence is, we've posted below a video of him speaking about one of our favorite subjects — lessons on the life of William Wilberforce.

So, we hope you make a special effort to get to Richmond on January 19. In order to register, contact Grassroots Coordinator John Smith at 804-343-0010 or e-mail him at john@familyfoundation.org.

We look forward to seeing you make a difference in Richmond on Monday, January 19.