SB 1270

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.

Clinics Are Where You Go To Get Well

One thing that has always frustrated me about the life debate, especially during the General Assembly, is that pro-lifers sometimes concede the semantics to the pro-abortion side. Simple case: Each year we support legislation that would license abortion "clinics" — the only type "medical" facility that escapes such basic oversight, especially considering the importance of the situations in which women who visit them find themselves. I hate using the word "clinic" in conjunction with abortion. A clinic is where you go to get well — not to kill a baby. I've tried "facility" but that does not capture the graveness of the activities that go on in these buildings. Friday, in a meeting, someone hit it spot on: "centers," as in abortion centers, because that's exactly what they are; centers carrying the connotation of "mass scale" or "large" — a place where much rote assembly line acitvity goes on.  Using it already, people have caught on — the understanding is immediate. It conveys exactly the heinous nature of what takes place in these centers of destruction.

Which leads to this Thursday in the Senate Committee on Education and Health (see members here to contact), which happens to its last meeting before crossover, and which also happens to be Planned Parenthood's lobby day. Here is the great tradition the two have worked out: Save the pro-life bills for PP's day at the GAB and kill them all to appease the committee pro-abortion majority's biggest supporters. But that also happens to be The Family Foundation's virtual lobby day, and we hope you participate by contacting your senators and delegates about defunding Planned Parenthood and supporting pro-life legislation.

So, not so coincidentally, E&H will hear SB 1270, patroned by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester). The bill will be amended and offer three simple requirements: A yearly inspection, life-saving equipment (which our lawmakers have in the GAB) and a registration/licensure of some type with an oversight agency. Let's see how those who claim to be for "safe, legal and rare," vote and if they think abortion centers should still claim exemption from the slightest of regulations, much less than what even podiatrists are subjected to. If they find excuses for defeating this, their cover, however, thin it is now, will be completely blown — as shattered as the term abortion "clinic."

Pastors Day At The Capitol: Restoring A Culture Of Life

Fresh off our large turnout of more than 250 grassroots Christian conservative activists at our annual lobby day yesterday, we have another day at the capitol: for pastors. It will be on February 5 and those attending will be treated to every bit the great lineup of speakers and lobbying opportunities with their senators and delegates.

The theme of Pastors Day At The Capitol is:

Restoring A Culture Of Life.

No coincidence, then, that February 5 is the same day as Planned Parenthood's lobby day.

Among the speakers confirmed are Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), who is carrying SB 1270, a bill to licence abortion facilities; Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg), the 2007 Family Foundation Legislator of the Year; and Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), who doubles as the co-chairman of the Virginia Conservative Caucus, a group of conservatives senators and delegates who shape alternative and innovative conservative proposals during the General Assembly.

Among the non-legislators slated to speak are the Rev. Bill Haywood and former Virginia State Police Chaplain Steve Lambert, one of the six who resigned rather than obey an order prohibiting prayer "in Jesus' name."

Please make your pastor aware of this unique opportunity. For more information, contact The Family Foundation of Virginia at 804-343-0010.