Maryland

Historic Pro-Life Vote To Take Place On Senate Floor This Week!

For years pro-life Virginians have tried to convince the General Assembly that abortion centers need to be regulated for the sake of the safety of the women who unfortunately decide to end their pregnancies. The fact that the Virginia Senate, in particular, has refused to let regulation bills out of committee has proven that they aren't serious about the so-called "safe, legal and rare" policy. However today, on the House floor, Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) was successful in amending SB 924, a bill that requires the Board of Health to promulgate regulations containing minimum standards for certain medical facilities, to include abortion centers! A pro-abortion delegate challenged the germaneness of the amendment, but after consulting with his parliamentarian, House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Stafford) ruled that the inclusion of abortion centers was germane because it was in the class of medical facilities enumerated in the bill and did not change the definition of the bill. After a brief debate, the amendment passed 63-34, then the bill itself passed 67-32

Because it is a Senate bill amended by the House, the full Senate must vote on it again in the next day or two! Finally, we will have a historic vote on regulating abortion centers in Virginia! Please contact your senator immediately and urge him or her to vote for the amended version of SB 924!   

Abortion center safety has received increased attention recently due to two unrelated events: a botched abortion originating with New Jersey-based Dr. Steven Brigham and a "horror shop" abortion center in Philadelphia. Pro-abortion advocates look at these examples and say, "Tell us of something in Virginia and then maybe we'll listen." The fact is that Dr. Brigham, who lost his license because he started late term abortions at his New Jersey centers and then transferred patients to Maryland to complete them, owns two abortion centers in Virginia and has no Virginia medical license. (He is not licensed in Maryland, either.)

Additionally, Dr. Brigham's two Virginia abortion center Web sites offer the following surgical abortion procedure:

Surgical abortion patients who are between 14 and 24 weeks pregnant will be referred to our Cheverly [MD] location after their first appointment for the completion of their procedure.

Abortions after 13 weeks in Virginia must be done in a hospital, not a clinic. It is not clear whether these two Virginia abortion centers are beginning illegal abortions or if a doctor at these two centers is practicing in Virginia without a license. We were able to locate Dr. Brigham's centers in Virginia  only because of the tragic situation in New Jersey.

Sadly, without the tragic medical emergency in New Jersey that led to his discovery, Virginians would never know about Dr. Brigham. Of course, we still don't know as much as we should because his abortion centers, and those of Planned Parenthood and every other abortionist, are neither inspected nor reviewed. Currently, the only way for the state to find out if there is a problem in an abortion center is if a woman who had an abortion files a complaint with the state — violating her right to privacy and opening herself up to publicity.

Virginia once responsibly regulated abortion centers with regulations upheld by the federal courts as constitutional. Years ago, we unilaterally suspended them. Now, after decades, the full Senate will have a historic vote as to whether the Board of Health must develop new ones. Please don't let this opportunity pass. Help us create history this session with a landmark Senate pro-life vote. Ask your senator now to vote for SB 924 as amended, as it will come up in the next day or two.

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NARAL Brings Its Act Of Deception To A City Near You

Despite its humiliating defeat this past General Assembly session, in addition to its "academic" report getting mercilessly shredded by doctors, lawyers and experts in the field, NARAL is traveling the state this summer and fall to present its "Crisis Pregnancy Center Road Tour," and collect signatures from those who oppose Pregnancy Resource Centers. NARAL writes:

We’ll share the findings from our year-long undercover investigation of medically inaccurate and deceptive crisis pregnancy centers across Virginia.

"Medically inaccurate" and "deceptive"? Really? One example of PRC's supposed "medical inaccuracy" listed in NARAL's flawed report is as follows:

Twenty-four of the CPCs, regardless of the stage of development, called the potential zygote, embryo, or fetus a "baby." (p. 18).

"Medical inaccuracy?" That’s laughable.

During this past General Assembly session, NARAL spearheaded an effort to require PRCs, among other requirements, to put a sign on their doors that essentially say they are not health care facilities and do not provide abortions or contraception. It might as well have required PRCs to post directions to the nearest abortion center. Not long into testimony in a Senate sub-committee, at which The Family Foundation joined with pro-life allies as well as PRC directors, volunteers and clients to handily debunk NARAL's myths, Senator (and sub-committee chair and NARAL's handpicked patron) Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) saw the futility and inaccuracy in NARAL's PRC "investigation" and called for the defeat of his own bill. However, despite its embarrassing defeat, NARAL still does not accept the invalidity of its claims. It believes public opinion is on its side . . . hence, the road trip and petitions.

In related news, the Alliance Defense Fund filed an anti-discrimination claim a few weeks ago on behalf of a PRC against Montgomery County, Md. (The Maryland legislature recently passed a bill almost identical to the defeated Virginia bill backed by NARAL.) A similar case has also been filed in Baltimore. According to ADF:

[Montgomery County] basically tell[s PRCs they] have to post a sign saying that "we don’t have any medical professionals here, and the county recommends you go find a medical professional. They don’t impose any rule like that, of course, on abortion clinics, and they intentionally crafted this rule to exclude them.

Despite the potential legal ramifications and no solid, academic groundwork to stand upon, NARAL clearly intends to reintroduce this ludicrous bill at some point due to its road trip and petition effort. This is nothing short of bullying tactics by a large, partisan, political group against these non-political, non-profit organizations, which keep to themselves and help pregnant women looking for options and counseling during a difficult period. Once again, The Family Foundation will work to ensure the overwhelming defeat of any such bill. If you are interested in helping us fight to protect the Pregnancy Resource Centers against attacks from NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, then please click here. Thank you for standing with us in this critical effort!

"Productivity Collapse" . . . Massive Education Spending Fails Report, But They Want Still More!

We owe our friend Norm Leahy at Tertium Quids a big Hat Tip (here) for bringing this to our attention. It hit us like a hammer over the head last week while putting together the most recent News Stand, where a couple of articles coalesced to drive the point home. The first paragraph has our preliminary commentary on the subject — the relation of government education spending and (lack of) student achievement.  As an April 29 article in the Wall Street Journal on a report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress confirms (here), despite trillions of dollars taxed away from private income at the local, state and federal levels since 1971, standardized test scores for 17-year-olds have improved by exactly three points: by one in English and by two in math. If a three point improvement over nearly 40 years and trillions of dollars of your money doesn't infuriate you, we could elaborate. But Andrew Coulson of The Cato Institute does it better than anyone else. As he posted at Cato's blog (here), and quoted by Leahy at TQ, it's simply a productivity collapse — twice the money for the same results:

"How serious of a collapse is it? Total k-12 expenditures in this country were about $630 billion two years ago (see Table 25, Digest of Ed Statistics 2008). The efficiency of our education system is less than half what it was in 1971 (i.e., we spend more than twice as much to get the same results — see Table 181, same source).

So if we'd managed to ensure that education productivity just stagnated, we'd be saving over $300 billion EVERY YEAR. If we'd actually seen productivity improvements in education such as we've seen in other fields, we'd be saving at least that much money and enjoying higher student achievement at the same time.

My guess is that most people would consider saving $3 trillion per decade and more fully realizing children's intellectual potential are both very important."

Prophetically, Leahy adds:

The knee-jerk response will be to throw even more money at the problem, hoping that somehow, an extra dollop of cash will change everything.

Exactly! On the heels of the report, we have this from the April 29 Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Virginia is in talks with Maryland and Washington about seeking part of an additional $5 billion in stimulus money that will be awarded to states most aggressively trying to improve student achievement.

On what basis is there proof that anything they do with that money will work? When is enough, enough? Certainly not another $5 billion, right?  Solution? Reforms so often blocked by the educationists and unions, such as more charter schools, more choice, more competition. But there's no need to reform when trillions for nothing come your way.

This wasted national treasure reminds me of the refrain of naive liberals about all the money "wasted" on defense spending: "Imagine all the good that could be done with that money instead of building bombs." Never mind that the military constantly improves efficiency and protects our country.

But . . . when it comes to governments, at any level, taxing our hard-earned income and spending it on an education system that has progressed by virtually nothing, it makes us think: Imagine all the good that could have been done with that money if left in the hands of parents to find better ways to educate their children.

Following The Leader Off The Cliff

It's beyond lame, now . . . the automatic, reflexive response by Virginia's liberals that not only do we need more taxes but that we can afford them. Regarding the former, it's that the "government doesn't have enough money," as if the people it is sucking it from does. That's the problem we're facing now, right? People have less money. Too bad. Government elites want whatever it is you have left. Regarding the latter, whether it's Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) pitching higher gas taxes or now Governor Tim Kaine pleading  for higher unemployment insurance taxes on businesses, it's always something about Virginia's taxes aren't as high as a neighboring state's or the national average or states that begin with letters never chosen in the final round on Wheel of Fortune, therefore we can afford them. As if the fact that Virginia may happen to have a particular tax lower than North Carolina, Maryland or Utah makes a difference as to whether it's justifiable on the merits to raise it .

The latest in this nonsense is the aforementioned tax on businesses that funds unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Last week, during its veto session, the General Assembly rejected the governor's attempt to accept federal "stimulus" money for extended unemployment insurance payments. The main argument against accepting the money was that, after the two year federal funding period, Virginia would have been obligated to continue the expenditures at a level necessitating a large tax increase on the people that create the jobs to begin with — businesses, including small businesses (often family owned) which create most jobs.

According to Governor Kaine, as reported in yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Virginia employers pays the second lowest annual amount of unemployment taxes in the nation." By that logic, let's raise every tax in Virginia in which we are in the bottom 10 percentile. Or 20 percentile . . . or heck, make it the 50 percentile. Don't want to feel too fortunate, here, do we?

In effect, they're saying let's give up our advantage in order to tax more people because other states are doing it. But isn't the idea to create an economic environment to recruit new business to Virginia and to encourage start-ups? But these liberals are saying, "We're not taxing our residents enough. If other states can do it, so can we!" Worse, they believe it!

Turns out though, Virginia isn't such a low tax state after all, the perception perhaps perpetuated as a ready excuse to raise taxes (we're under taxed, so ante up more). According to Scott Hodge of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Virginia's overall tax burden is one of the nation's worst, rivaling notoriously high-taxing New York, New Jersey, California and, even, "Taxachussetts." (So much for our low-tax advantage.) Hodges spoke recently on Freedom & Prosperity Radio and you can hear the interview here with other interesting statistics.

Either way — whether they believe there is "room" to raise taxes compared to other states or they selectively pick and choose taxes that are lower here by comparison in order to raise a sense that an increase won't hurt — Virginia's tax-and-spenders insist on following other states rather than leading. Never mind that it's following them right off the economic cliff.