Victoria Cobb

How is this possible?

This week, Virginia politicians from both sides of the aisle and many in the media are trumpeting CNBC’s announcement that the Old Dominion is once again the “Best State for Business.” 

CNBC’s survey was based on criteria like, economy, infrastructure, quality of life, education, technology business friendliness, etc. 

But, according to many politicians – from former Governor Terry McAuliffe and current Governor Ralph Northam – to state Senators and Delegates of both political parties, and a host of special interests, quite frankly it should be impossible for Virginia to be the best state for business.

Why?

Well, according to these so-called “progressive” leaders, Virginia isn’t very “open and welcoming.”  You see, for the better part of the past decade, the media and political class have claimed that businesses and education leaders and technology gurus and everyone else it seems wouldn’t come to Virginia because the General Assembly hasn’t elevated “sexual orientation and gender identity” to protected classes.

Oh, and those anti-women “anti-abortion” laws are terrible for business, too.

Oops.

Of course, none of the rhetoric spouted by those claiming that Virginia’s economy suffers because the Commonwealth has chosen to minimally protect unborn children and religious liberty is true.  For the most part, low tax and regulation states are at or near the top of the “Best States for Business” list, while those with the most extreme pro-abortion and pro-LGBT laws tend to linger at or near the bottom.  Why? Because smart business leaders don’t base economic decisions on anything other than economic facts, not emotional hysteria (even Amazon decided to come to Virginia). 

This won’t stop the rhetoric, however, or the bills.  There’s little doubt that we’ll see Delegate Kathy Tran’s infamous abortion-at-any-point-through-birth bill again in 2020.  We’ll see the dozen or so bills elevating sexual behavior to special status in our laws, threatening religious liberty and making many religious small business owners left feeling rather, well, unwelcome. 

But the line will stay the same – if we don’t pass these bills the economy will suffer. 

Except it won’t.  Virginia’s economy will do just fine as long as taxes are relatively low and the regulatory environment is somewhat less crushing than neighboring states.  Businesses go where they can make money – which for most business owners is sort of the point. 

By the way, CNBC ranked New York state, which adopted its own version of Delegate Tran’s “welcome to everyone except babies” 27th. 

Our Team Has You Covered: Special Session, LGBTQ+ meetings, and more

News out of Richmond yesterday focused entirely on the General Assembly, which convened a rare Special Session on gun control at the call of the Governor in response to the deadly shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31. (Read our critique of the Governor's rhetoric in our blog entitled Why We Need More "Thoughts and Prayers") Realizing that this gathering was little more than a political exercise to boost the Governor’s party in November’s election, we used the opportunity to meet with as many legislators as possible to discuss other important pro-family issues.

The day was over as quickly as it started.  Leaders from both chambers sent the handful of bills introduced to be studied by the Virginia State Crime Commission, and moved to reconvene on November 18.

While some of our Policy team was at the Capitol for the Special Session, others were monitoring the Department of Health's presentation on "Virginia's LGBTQ+ Health Equity Symposium and Data Collection for LGBTQ Populations."

Yes, this is what our state government is busy doing! And we’re here to make sure that someone is watching, speaking, and acting on behalf of your values.

The Symposium overview, provided by the state's "Transgender Health Services Specialist", centered largely on recommendations for the state to change its medical processes, forms, and state employee training and policies to fully incorporate transgender ideology into state government. (See sample below.)

2019-7-9+LGBTQ+Sypmosium+Overview+Presentation+-+Collecting+Demo+Data+on+Gender+Identity+Slide.jpg
2019-7-9 LGBTQ Sypmosium Overview Presentation.png

It was clear from this meeting that our state government is seeking to eliminate what it believes are “social stigmas” because, according to them, that is the cause of higher levels of HIV, stress, anxiety and even clinical depression in those identifying as LGBTQ+. While its important to treat every person with the utmost dignity and respect and to help every person struggling with physical and mental health issues, it's dangerous of the Department of Health to overlook the reality of the negative health consequences directly associated with these lifestyles.

The Department of Health is also pursuing the same radical compelled speech that caused West Point high school teacher Peter Vlaming to get fired.  As the presenter of the study stated, "people need to use preferred pronouns, even if they're uncomfortable with it."  Here are some more troubling things we learned at the meeting:   

  • Planned Parenthood was touted for its services to LGBTQ+ patients

  • The Department of Health intends to implement questions involving gender identity, “sex assigned at birth”, and “preferred gender pronouns” into all its patient intake forms.

  • LGBTQ+ training needs to be done with all VDH staff, and possibly with all state employees.

  • The Governor is currently looking to hire a Director of Equity and Inclusion to implement all of the presenter's recommendations for implementing these policies throughout all state agencies.

Of course, any of these changes would infringe on many state employees’ deeply held religious and personal convictions. Commissioner Norman Oliver understands this and stated that to implement these recommendations would “require a cultural change within the state agencies" that he expected to take place in between one to two years.

There are so many important issues to stay on top of in our Commonwealth, and we are here working hard – often in several places at once – to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks as we seek to preserve and promote strong families. We appreciate your continued partnership and prayers.

These Important State Laws Take Effect Today

Every year on July 1st, hundreds of new changes to Virginia’s laws officially go into effect. Here’s a few The Family Foundation fought hard for and against that you may want to know:

TFF Supported

  • More educational options for parents and kids through expansion of the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program (EISTC).The program has been a huge success in recent years and continues to enable more children in families who cannot otherwise afford private education to receive a private scholarship to use towards a qualifying private school. SB 1015 (R-Stanley) expanded this flagship school choice initiative to include pre-kindergarten.

  • More parental oversight and involvement regarding sensitive materials in public schools. HB 2107 (R-Ransone) provides parents the opportunity to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools, and the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.

  • More protection for property rights in eminent domain situations. SB 1256 (R-Ruff) creates an income tax subtraction for gain recognized by a taxpayer from a government’s taking of real property. Landowners should not have their property taken, only to be slapped with a new tax liability.

  • More parental authority regarding the delegation of temporary custody. HB 2542 (R-Byron) allows a parent or legal custodian of a minor to delegate temporary custody in limited circumstances for up to 180 days, with the assistance of a private organization, without government intrusion.

TFF Opposed

  • Expansion of assisted conception through surrogacy laws to remove any biological significance for parenthood. HB 1979 (D-Sullivan) allows non-married individuals with no biological connection to an embryo to contract with a surrogate mother to birth a baby for them. The negative consequences of this bill range from children growing up without any knowledge of one or both biological parents, no protections against “selective reduction” abortions, and no limitations on the proliferation of new lab-created human embryos. This recent article from The Federalist also gets at the fundamental problems with this kind of policy.

To see the full list of laws taking effect today, click here.

It's Official! (Come See It For Yourself)

It's Official! (Come See It For Yourself)

t’s official. We’ve finally moved into our new building!

But it’s not just any building. A mid-nineteenth century four-story Greek Revival historic town house tucked among city sky scrapers in downtown Richmond, buttressed by a significant rear add-on with additional space, accented with a large and fully-enclosed courtyard and three walk-out balconies, all just a block and a half away from the state Capitol. And only by God’s unforeseen but abundantly clear leading, coupled with the faithful partnership of supporters like you, we are now the owners

Case Closed. Decision Still to Come.

Yesterday, abortion industry and the private counsel hired to defend Virginia’s laws made their closing arguments in federal district court in Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver, wrapping up a grueling two-week trial in which nearly all our state’s pro-life laws hang in the balance. My team and I, including our five new summer interns, were in the courtroom to witness every word.  

After failing year after year to pass legislation to achieve their ultimate goal of unfettered access to taxpayer-funded abortions performed by anyone in facilities with no oversight up until the moment of birth, the abortion industry turned to the courts – targeting Virginia to be its precedent-setting case in that goal. For a quick refresher on the overall case and some of what happened before and during the trial, be sure to look back at our blog posts. (“Surprise Miracle”, “Falls Church v. Oliver”, “The Plaintiffs Rest” and “Defense Makes Its Case”)

In yesterday’s closing statement, the lawyer for Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Whole Women’s Health gave frankly an overstated, over-confident, and oversimplified summary of the facts in this case and how the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents supposedly require the judge to totally throw out all of the following Virginia laws (some on the books since 1975):

-       “Window to the Womb" ultrasound law providing a woman the opportunity to view her ultrasound and hear the fetal heart tone if she wishes

-       Abortion informed consent materials

-       A 24-hour wait period after the ultrasound and prior to an abortion

-       All abortion center health and safety regulations

-       The requirement for 2nd trimester abortions to be done in hospitals, and

-       The requirement for having actual physicians perform the abortion procedure

Despite how reasonable these safeguards are for ensuring the health, safety, and informed consent of vulnerable women facing this permanent – and often conflicted – decision, the abortion industry has proven its willingness to sacrifice anything, and anyone, for the sake of money and power. It's quite revealing that the same industry that purports to be about women's health is doing everything it can to strip away things like health and safety standards, informed consent, and requirements that medical doctors be the ones to perform an invasive surgery. We pray that Judge Hudson sees right through the hollow (yet slick) legal arguments of the Plaintiffs. If his questions from the bench were any signal, we sense that on most of the issues involved, he does.

The attorney defending our laws kept her closing much more direct, succinct, and generally had solid legal arguments. The Defense’s closing highlighted the evidence throughout the trial, even brought forward by some of the Plaintiffs’ witnesses, that safety standards have greatly improved the facilities doing the invasive surgery of abortion, that ultrasound is a critical element of the abortion procedure, and that physicians are uniquely qualified to perform all types of abortion and deal with all potential complications.

Significantly, the Defense pointed out that the Plaintiffs did not put forward even a single Virginia woman of child-bearing age who could demonstrate any burden whatsoever in her ability to obtain an abortion as a result of these laws. “If there were such a woman,” said the Defense attorney, “surely the Plaintiffs, who perform abortions all across the Commonwealth every single day, would be able to provide one.” But they couldn’t. That is more than a little problematic for the Plaintiffs when the legal standard they must demonstrate is an “undue burden” on an actual woman pursuing abortion.

While some important points were omitted from her closing and several points were conceded unnecessarily (this was the Attorney General’s hired counsel, mind you), the attorney definitely put forward a laudable and even compelling defense of the laws. And that was encouraging.  

Now that the trial is over and all the documents and evidence are in, we are left only to pray for Judge Hudson’s wise discernment, his respect for our laws and the Constitution, and that he has a true appreciation for the gravity of his decision in terms of its impact on the lives and health of women, unborn children, federalism and the rule of law. Please join us in that prayer over the next several weeks.

Whatever the outcome of this case, The Family Foundation will remain ever-vigilant on behalf of Virginia families for the protection and promotion of every human life, and especially those most vulnerable among us. As soon as we learn of a decision in this case, we’ll let you know.

The Plaintiffs' Rest

Earlier this week, we told you how the abortion industry’s lawsuit challenging all of Virginia’s pro-life laws kicked off in what has been scheduled for a 2-week trial in federal court. The Plaintiffs continued their lineup of “expert” witnesses, including staff from Planned Parenthood and Whole Women’s Health.  Again, the plaintiffs and their witnesses spent much of the time avoiding anything that might reveal to the Judge or the media present in the courtroom that a human being was in the womb whose life is taken when these abortions occur.  Terms like “voluntary pregnancy interruption” replaced abortion in some exchanges.  Interruption usually implies something will resume later, except, apparently in this usage of the word.

Courtroom exchanges also revealed that the Hampton abortion clinic has no doctor on site and performs chemical abortions by telemedicine.  As described, a doctor advises a nurse by video conferencing, who then administers the abortion pill.  While we’ve known that there is no doctor practicing at this abortion facility, it was unknown how they were administering chemical abortions.  It has seemed that in the past, legislators have been under the impression that abortion was not happening by telemedicine, despite our concerns. 

Witnesses on the stand included the both Medical Director and CEO of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and the founder of Whole Women’s Health, LLC.  Each of these individuals testified that routine biennial inspections are burdensome and unhelpful.  Thankfully, after much advocacy for no oversight, Judge Hudson asked the abortion staff in a very perplexed manner, “You’re not saying you want no oversight, right?” to which the abortion industry response was that they would still be governed by OSHA and CLIA.  OSHA regulations are designed simply to protect any business’ employees from safety risks, like construction site falls, etc.  CLIA regulations are specific requirements for handling laboratory test results, etc. Neither of these would guard against infection and ensure abortion complications are handled appropriately. 

Sadly, the CEO of VA League for Planned Parenthood (including several locations) assured the court that this entity alone had taken well over 50,000 lives just in the last 12 years.  Of course, it was not phrased in that manner.  As a mom, I realized that those were classmates and teammates of my four children, the oldest of whom is 12 years old.   It was likely friends and neighbors of mine, unaware of the support for their pregnancy, adoption or motherhood that was  available to them, who made the  decision to end those lives.  Heartbreaking.

The court also heard from Dr. Karen Remley, a former Commissioner of Health, who attempted to paint a picture of how the safety standards she helped put together with a group of doctors would have been valuable but that the process was corrupted by politics.  The problem with her argument (that hopefully the Judge recognizes) is that all regulations go through a political process.  Not all recommendations given by experts during the regulatory process are included in the final product when voted upon by the government entity making the final decision. This is not abnormal, but in fact, is practically guaranteed due to the lengthy regulatory process.  In many places, her testimony inadvertently helped the defense. Here are a few of Dr. Remley’s other notable statements:

  • She noted that, in forming the group of experts to give recommendations on standards, they had gotten the advice from the heads of the various medical school OBGYN departments. She highlighted how the McDonnell administration suggested she include Dr. John Seeds, then Chairman of the OBGYN department at VCU.  This was supposedly her evidence to show that the administration forced a doctor onto the panel who was likely initially excluded because he is known to be in favor of the preservation of unborn life. 

  • She repeatedly confirmed that many of the components of the safety standards are “medically optimal.”  These included the CDC guidelines for infectious disease control and life-saving equipment.  Her concern wasn’t directed at unnecessary safety guidelines, but simply that all outpatient surgery does not receive equal oversight.

  • As she called the regulation of physicians’ offices the “wild west” and admitted that the state knows nothing about the safety of those practices, you could almost hear the Plaintiff lawyers gasp, since this is their desired level of standards  they need to convince the Judge is sufficient.  She did note that the building construction guidelines were not part of the original recommendations, but omitted the fact that they were added because the Code of Virginia has a law requiring them. 

  • She sited that, in addition to the building code requirements, the doctor panel never recommended that an abortion facility have a Transfer Agreement with a hospital, which was included in the Board’s final recommendations.  Unfortunately, she grossly mischaracterized that safety requirement as the physician having to be “on staff” at a hospital, which is not the same as having  Admitting Privileges. The Commissioner is fully aware that the safety standards are meant to govern the facility, and that they cannot and do not govern the doctor.  Regardless of her misrepresentation, she must not have been aware that part of the previous Abortionist’s testimony about handling complications included the fact that if it were severe enough, they would transport the patient to a hospital.  I suspect a Judge would naturally conclude that such a connection between facility and hospital would be valuable in that case. 

There was also considerable focus on the 24-hour delay and the ultrasound requirement, and the supposed burden these place on women seeking abortions.  The Plaintiffs even brought in a bioethicist to suggest that even merely offering a woman the option to view her ultrasound or to hear her baby’s heartbeat – as required by law - violated the woman’s autonomy and decision-making capability.  Yes, you read that right. You just cannot make this stuff up. According to this “expert” bioethicist, less knowledge for a woman equals greater autonomy. So much for “a woman’s choice.”

The trial so far has clearly placed the abortion industry in the role of Chicken Little, effectively claiming“the sky is falling” with each and every requirement, no matter how minor.  According to the Plaintiffs, the regulations are overly burdensome, the safety standards are unachievable, the waiting period is unhelpful and unfair, and women will be unable travel to obtain their abortion, etc., etc..  One wonders what nominal requirement the abortion industry would consider not be an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion. I can think of one very effective way the government could ensure women’s easier access to abortion: slash the industry’s prices for abortions in half. Somehow I’m certain Planned Parenthood would draw a line on that one.

Now the Plaintiff’s case has been fully presented. Next week it will be the Defense’s turn to argue their side, and hopefully make a compelling case for upholding these important protections for health, safety, and life.   We will be in the courtroom following this case closely, so stay tuned.    

Falls Church v. Oliver

Today at 9:00 a.m. I joined others from my team at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Some of us were inside to watch the proceedings while others were outside praying for a righteous decision. 

Judge Henry E. Hudson is hearing a vitally important lawsuit against all of our pro-life laws. This lawsuit, Falls Church Medical Center, LLC. v. Oliver, was brought by Planned Parenthood and abortion allies to take away all of our pro-life laws. Here are some of the laws that the abortion industry wants to strike down with a court decree:

  • Our "Window to the Womb" ultrasound law,

  • Our law requiring full informed consent before abortions,

  • The law requiring a 24 hour waiting period before an abortion,

  • All of our health and safety regulations,

  • Our law limiting 2nd Trimester abortions to hospitals only; and

  • The law, which has been on the books since 1975, stating that only licensed physicians are allowed to do abortions!

Ultimately the pro-abortion industry wants to remove every pro-life law we have ever passed! And, having failed to do so in the legislature, they are turning to the courts.

Judge Hudson will be hearing witnesses and testimony in this case for the next two weeks - concluding on May 31st. The Family Foundation will be there to monitor every day of the proceedings.

It’s hard to fully describe what it’s like to sit in a courtroom and listen to an abortionist, who testifies to having done thousands of abortions, dispassionately describe what he does for a living, complete with seemingly unending euphemisms to describe abortion rather than facts.  If one heard Governor Northam describe infanticide on the radio, it’s comparable, except for hours on end.

Much of the day was listening to the testimony and cross examination of an Oregon abortionist Dr. Mark Nichols.  Dr. Nichols went to great lengths to claim nearly all abortion is virtually without complication.  The difficulty with his presentation is that in Virginia, despite years of presenting legislation to the Virginia General Assembly to collect complication data on abortion, short of what is presented as a result of the newly adopted safety inspections, our Commonwealth simply has not been collecting complications.  For decades it has been the case that if a woman has a perforated uterus and presents herself at the hospital, it will be filed as a hemorrhaging, not an abortion complication.  Even after regulations adopted in 2011 required some complication reporting, inspections reveal that complications are still not being reported.  Dr. Nichols reported that even uterus perforations are often handled onsite rather than transferring a patient to a hospital.  We know that is because the industry does everything possible to conceal complications, including not sending women to the hospital when then need that level of repair after a botched abortion.      

Abortionist Nichols gave testimony that he does a thorough job ensuring the informed consent of women, emphasizing that he finds women fully competent to understand the decision they are making.  However, when drilled about his use of ultrasound in that informed consent process, he acknowledged that he does deny women the right to see their ultrasound, despite their request because he knows what’s best for them. 

In a moment that shocked no one except Rachel Maddow, Dr. Nichols did affirm his use of ultrasound in each and every abortion he performs because it results in a safer abortion.  If one watched the news or late-night television during the passage of our Window to the Womb law in 2012, one would have walked away with the impression that ultrasounds are simply a tool of “state sponsored rape.”  Seriously.  I wish I were kidding.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of today’s discussion was the notion that this doctor could provide women with any facts that would allow her to make an informed consent when he couldn’t use any correct terms to speak about a woman carrying a child.  With the rare exception, he never used the word “baby” and only rarely the term “fetus.” Most of his entire time on the stand only referred to “pregnancies”, “pregnancy tissue” and “products of conception.” 

At one point it was clear the defense attorney wanted him to acknowledge the process by which an abortionist ensures they have done a complete abortion, which is to put the child’s body parts back together and determine they are all accounted for.  Rather than owning this known process, the abortionist simply said that he checks the womb to ensure the “products of conception” are gone.  When asked what the “products of conception” were, he simply responded with the “fetus and placenta.”  He even managed to describe needing bigger tools in later week abortions because the “pregnancy is bigger.”  In English, rather than abortion-speak, the child ‘s skull is bigger but apparently, despite acting as if abortion is the same as removing a wort, the abortionist does not appear to have the boldness to actually use real words to reference the human body being torn apart.

Much of the testimony centered around the various types of abortion:

1)    Chemical - take two pills and induce a process like a miscarriage, including a tremendous amount of bleeding
2)    Suction - envision a vacuum used to remove the child
3)    Dilation and evacuation (D & E) - a woman is dilated and the child is dismembered and then removed.
4)    Induction –  the child is shot into the heart with a lethal drug, labor is induced and a whole dead child delivered.  If the child is not delivered whole, post-induction dismemberment will occur.

The abortionist steered away from using words like “vacuum”, “dismemberment” or “delivery.”  However, it is critical to note that he testified that he does suction abortions until 15 weeks, D & E until 22-24 weeks and induction abortion or what has been coined “heart attack” abortion after 24 weeks.  Given this is the case, petitioners are filing to move 2nd trimester (through 27 weeks) abortions from a hospital to an abortion center and remove the physician requirement.  If the Judge were to strike down these laws, one has to ask if the law would then allow induction abortions in a center with a health worker who is not a doctor, like a certified midwife delivering the dead baby?  Remember, Virginia’s laws are not structured around the types of procedures, they are structured around gestational ages of development. For Judge Hudson to rule by procedure, he would need to essentially rewrite the law for the General Assembly.

Our hope is that the ten-day trial highlights for Judge Hudson the over 500 health and safety violations in the Virginia centers over the last couple of years including blood on the equipment, expired medications and untrained staff.  It would be hard to read what we’ve read, inspections that are readily available to the public, and the Judge conclude that this industry needs less oversight. 

I will be in the court as often as I can be over the course of this trial. Please keep this case in your prayers.

Religious Liberty On the Line!

The federal “Equality Act” (H.R. 5) is moving through the House of Representatives at warp speed, and is scheduled to be voted on this week!

CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act.   

You can read more about the devastating impacts of the bill here on our blog, or watch this video with testimonials of people whose lives have been wrecked by similar state laws.

Last week I told you that this bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of federal legislation that I have seen in my lifetime, a comment that I do not make flippantly. And the more we learn about the potential impact of this legislation, the more my concerns grow.

The bill’s threats to religious liberty, free speech, churches and faith-based hospitals are well-established, but we are learning more about how this bill will actually cause greater harm to people.  According to Dr. Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician and executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, H.R. 5 would force physicians to prescribe toxic hormones and drugs for adults and even children that can produce severe side effects, or even to perform serious medical procedures, all to “change” a person’s physical features to conform to their self-prescribed gender identity.

The so-called Equality Act would eliminate all parental authority related to the training and well-being of their children by prohibiting parents from ever interfering with a child’s access to transgender medical procedures.  Sadly, this is no longer a hypothetical. Recently, parents in Ohio, which has a similar state law, had their parental rights terminated for failing to approve puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for their adolescent child.

We’ve learned that the so-called Equality Act would also provide that “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” cannot be treated any differently than other physical conditions.  This means all restrictions to abortion would be torn down, and anybody or any group who doesn’t want to fund or commit an abortion at any stage will be subject to punishment.

The reality is that this type of radical legislation has already permeated many state legislatures, and now the House is applying a full-court press to pass the so-called Equality Act at the federal level. 

We cannot allow the government to push people with strong religious convictions into compromising their beliefs, or to usurp the prerogatives – and constitutional rights – of parents to guide the education and health of their children.

CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act.  You can also reach your Congressman and Senators at (202) 224-3121.  Don’t wait, the House plans to vote on this bill this week!

The Governor Couldn't Resist!

The state budget process is finally over, and with it came some big wins and also disappointments.  Last week Governor Northam submitted his final actions on the budget to the House of Delegates. They included leaving in place the federal “Hyde Amendment” language, which ensures taxpayers will not be forced to pay for abortions of babies with supposed disabilities, and vetoing a modification to the existing Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program that would have stopped nearly $2 million from being funneled to the abortion industry.

For more details about these budget provisions, you can read about them here on our blog.

We cannot overstate how important of a win it is for the protection of pre-born babies to have the Hyde Amendment language included in the budget, especially given the complete disregard for human life that was on full display during session this year.  This achievement is the result of strong legislators willing to stand firm for the protection of pre-born babies, as well as the unwavering resolve of The Family Foundation, the Virginia Catholic Conference and the Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL) to push for these types of protections year after year.

In the end, the Governor did not accept the Hyde Amendment language willingly, since he was actually prohibited by the Virginia Constitution from vetoing that particular type of budget amendment. Of course, he couldn’t let the Hyde language stand without offering this hypocritical comment indirectly criticizing pro-life conservatives: "the General Assembly's action is cruel and out of touch with the difficult reality some families face."   Remember, this is the same Governor who tried to explain that leaving a baby on a table after a failed abortion while the parents and physician had a discussion over whether or not the baby should live or die, was somehow morally acceptable.

The Governor’s actions also demonstrated his total commitment to Planned Parenthood by vetoing an amendment introduced by Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12, Glen Allen) to limit “LARC” funds to only the purchase of IUD devices.  His veto, which will continue to allow millions of dollars in grants being allocated to the abortion industry, was simply a ‘wink and a nod’ to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to say “I’ve still got your back.” 

All of this goes to show how elections have consequences, and how important it is for voters to be aware of the values that their legislators espouse.  That’s why The Family Foundation Action works so hard to create a General Assembly Report Card to show you exactly how legislators voted on specific legislation that has a significant impact on families.

To order the 2018-2019 Report Cards for your church or community group, click HERE.

Federal Court Strikes Down Pro-Life Laws

Federal Court Strikes Down Pro-Life Laws

With virtually no control over what happens next, this is yet another moment for all pro-life Virginians to reflect on one unasailable reality: Elections have consequences. That being true, while we may have little control, we have the ear of the One who has all control. Please join me in praying for the outcome of this case to be fully argued on May 20th. So much is at stake for so many who need the laws' protection. 

The Greatest Assault to Our Liberties in My Lifetime

The so-called “Equality Act” (H.R. 5) being debated in Congress is quite possibly one of the most dangerous pieces of federal legislation that I have encountered in my lifetime.  It would wreak havoc on religious freedom, free speech, churches and faith-based hospitals, as well as undercut all the gains made on behalf of women.

Many aspects of our daily lives - public accommodations, employment, housing, counseling, and more – would be impacted.  Here are just a few samples of its likely impact if it ever becomes law: 

  • Force young girls to dress and shower in front of boys;

  • Allow men onto women’s athletic teams and to compete against women in Olympic-style sports;

  • Require religious hospitals to provide sex-change operations;

  • Compel women’s shelters to allow men into their facilities and share housing with females who have already been subjected to trauma; and

  • Prevent couples who believe in God’s design for marriage and sexuality from adopting or caring for a foster child. 

While variations of this legislation have been introduced in Congress before, this particular version would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes all throughout the federal code.  The architects of this legislation claim it would protect people from discrimination, but in reality it forces people to deny basic biological realities and to compromise their deeply held beliefs and religious convictions in order affirm a person’s sexual behavior or preferred gender status.

Don’t just take my word for it. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), insists that "we cannot allow claims of religious freedom to be used to discriminate against an LGBT individual."  This legislation is so radical that even Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D – WV) and Gregory Angelo, former leader of the “Log Cabin Republicans,” have publicly opposed it.

While upholding justice and human dignity are essential to any thriving society, and reflective of our core American beliefs, this so-called Equality Act offers no meaningful protections for individuals, but especially none for Christians.  Instead, it removes time-honored decency protections for women and girls, violates privacy, regulates speech, and threatens the ability of every American to exercise their religious liberty – even expressly declaring that The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 cannot be used as a claim or defense against it!

We cannot allow the government to push people with strong religious convictions into compromising their beliefs – like they tried to do with Peter Vlaming, a teacher at West Point High School who was recently fired for simply refusing to use male pronouns for a biological female student.  (For a brief account of what happened you can read our blog about it here.)

CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act.  You can also reach your Congressman and Senators at (202) 224-3121.  Don't delay, the House Democrats are pushing to hold a vote on this bill soon!

The 2018-2019 Report Card is Here!

The Family Foundation Action today released the 15th edition of its non-partisan General Assembly Report Card. This educational document informs citizens on key votes taken by the General Assembly during the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions that relate to the issues of life, marriage, parental authority, religious liberty, and constitutional government.  Click the icon below to view the new Report Card to see how your legislators voted:

It is our hope the 2018-2019 Report Card, along with Voter Guides that will be distributed this fall, will help motivate citizens to vote and enable them to make informed choices.  All 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 Virginia Senate seats are up for reelection, which will be held Tuesday, November 5th.  Voters will also have the opportunity to review the scores of several legislators seeking re-nomination by their party prior to the June primary elections scheduled for Tuesday, June 11th.

As with each Report Card distributed over the years, hundreds of votes taken by the legislature during the past two years were reviewed.  The first page of the Report Card explains the criteria used in determining which votes to include.  Non-partisan and broad-based, the Report Card seeks not to benefit one party or candidate over another, but to equip voters with the information they need to make an informed choice when they go to the ballot box.

This year’s Report Card has fourteen “100 percenters” in the House of Delegates and three in the state Senate.

To order additional copies of the Report Card to distribute in your church, community groups, or to like-minded friends and neighbors, click here or contact The Family Foundation Action at 804-343-0010 or at info@tffaction.org.  A suggested donation of $.25 per copy is encouraged to help defray costs of printing and distribution.  Please also consider sponsoring the distribution of 100, 500 or even 1,000 Report Cards with a donation of $25, $125, or $250.  Checks should be made out to "TFF Action" and mailed to 919 E. Main Street, Suite 1110, Richmond, VA 23219, or you can pay by credit card here.  Thank you for your support!

The mission of The Family Foundation Action is to protect families and promote responsible citizenship by giving Virginians the tools they need to hold their elected officials accountable.  The Family Foundation Action is not a PAC and does not endorse candidates. Therefore, please be advised that political campaigns and candidates for public office may not use either The Family Foundation or The Family Foundation Action logo for any campaign-related publications.  Any such use of these logos is not authorized and should be ceased and corrected immediately.

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. 

A New Casino In New Kent County?

If it looks like a casino, feels like a casino, and plays like a casino, it’s probably because it is one, or might as well be. Last week, New Kent County, outside of Richmond, officially opened one such establishment.

According to the new “Rosie’s Gaming Emporium” at the Colonial Downs facility, which was sold to politicians last year (over our persistent arguments to the contrary) as ‘the only thing that can save live horse racing in Virginia’: “Our 600 [Historical Horse Racing (HHR)] Machines look, feel and play like the games you know and love!” (Click here to watch their video demonstration of one of these “HHR” machines.)

Colonial Downs.png

If anyone was somehow fooled before into believing that all this had something to do with horses, the evidence is now undeniable: These are simply lined rows of slot machines in an atmosphere that by any ordinary description is a casino. And there are plans in the works to put the same Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in various locations across the state, including on Midlothian Turnpike in South Richmond, in Vinton, and in Hampton – all by the end of the year. 

As I told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The only winner of expanded gambling in Virginia is the gambling industry itself. The promised panacea of increased revenue to the state never seems to materialize, and the cost to the community of broken homes and families can be devastating.” 

For many reasons, it is clear that this effort has never primarily been about the cherished past-time of thoroughbred horse racing. That was evident when the industry stakeholders who influenced the Virginia Racing Commission stripped from its draft regulations any requirement for a minimum number of live race days at the tracks. Meanwhile, their stated intention is to change the regulations to allow for an unlimited number of these slot machines to be placed around the state (currently capped at 2,000). We need only to look at the model in other states to recognize it is merely casino gaming by another name, serving as a lucrative cash-cow for a select few business interests, all under the guise of “horse racing.” A classic example of “crony capitalism”, the government grants monopolies to a favored few, to the great detriment of countless others. 

Not only are these ‘miniature casinos’ destined to lead to the many social problems experienced everywhere these predatory establishments crop up, but as Senator Louise Lucas correctly noted after the bill authorizing it passed in 2018, it’s "the camel's nose under the tent," adding that she saw little difference between machines that allow historical horse race betting and slots. Senator Lucas, who has for many years been pushing for casinos in Virginia, is very pleased by all of this because of how it is opening the door to full-scale casinos throughout the state. (For a brief history of how this came to be in 2018, read our blog about it here.) 

While we have every intention to do all we can to resist that very real and imminent prospect, it’s hard not to say “We told you so.” 

In related news, it was revealed yesterday that in Kentucky, where this same scheme has been underway for a few years now, the “HHR” industry stakeholders paid for their own regulations to be written and for years had been paying for the testing services of their own machines with virtually no direct oversight from the horse racing commission. In other words, the gambling industry was in charge of ensuring that their own machines were not cheating people. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. 

Sadly, that is not so different from the kind of incestuous relationships we have witnessed between the government and gambling industries here. When thinking about these issues, it is always helpful to keep in mind that gambling operations owe their success largely to creating the most effective ways to swindle people out of their money.   

HUGE Response In Defense of Faith-Based Counselors!

We recently alerted our supporters that faith-based counselors are under attack in Virginia. I asked for your help to push back against this targeted ideological bigotry by submitting a comment on the Town Hall website addressing the Board of Counseling’s proposed Guidance Document that seeks to punish licensed counselors simply for affirming biological realities and instilling a healthy sexual outlook in children. 

Nearly 600 commenters weighed in, including many Family Foundation supporters. And we were thrilled to see that, as of the close of the comment period last Wednesday, we estimate that around 75% of the comments condemned the Board’s efforts to silence counselors and deny children access to the critical counseling services they need in order to work through unwanted struggles and confusion in their sexuality. 

Thank you to all of you who took the time to weigh in and stand up for counselors and children in Virginia. In doing so, you helped advance the cause of free speech, religious liberty, parental rights, patient autonomy, and truth itself. 

Now the Board will have to provide some form of written response to all of the comments. Whatever the Board of Counseling ultimately decides to do, they will at least have to contend with and answer to hundreds of compelling comments as to why they should not – and by law, cannot – implement this policy. 

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next. Thank you for your valuable help on this!

Faith-Based Counselors Under Attack

Faith-Based Counselors Under Attack

A few weeks ago, I told you about an attempt by a state agency to target and punish faith-based counselors who would simply help a minor work through struggles with unwanted sexual attractions or gender dysphoria. Now, there are several state licensing boards with clear ideological motives that are aiming to do the very same thing. This time, it’s the Board of Counseling, and they need to hear from you!

Budget Update: Victory for Life!

We are thrilled to tell you that, at yesterday's "Veto Session" in Richmond to consider the Governor's vetos and budget recommendations, the House of Delegates rejected Governor Northam's attempts to make taxpayers pay for abortions and to funnel millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood! This is a huge win for the protection of unborn life, and a great end to a day that began with Virginia's first-ever (and highly successful) statewide March For Life at the Capitol.

For more details of the pro-life budget provisions that were successfully defended yesterday, read about them here on our blog.

The Governor's amendment to keep millions in tax dollars flowing to abortion facilities was defeated 50-49, and his amendment to fund abortions failed on a vote of 50-45. We want to thank several Delegates who made compelling floor speeches in support of the pro-life language, including Delegates Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), who has been a champion for the budget's "Hyde Amendment" language, Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), and Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg). Look out for videos of these and others like them on our Facebook page soon - The Family Foundation Action

Believe it or not, there is still one more round left to go in the budget process. It will now be sent back to the Governor, who will have a final veto opportunity. With yesterday’s success, we crossed another major hurdle in protecting life in Virginia. It's a great day to be a pro-life Virginian! Thank you for all your support and prayers.

They Taught Kindergarteners What?

They Taught Kindergarteners What?

There is much we could say about all this, but we think all of this sufficiently speaks for itself. Be assured that we will continue to closely watch, unveil, and call out these increasingly frequent attempts to indoctrinate children into these destructive ideologies. And if you learn of something happening in your locality, please let us know so that we can address it. We all must be more vigilant than ever.

Pro-Family Tax Reform [General Assembly Update Part 5]

Pro-Family Tax Reform [General Assembly Update Part 5]

During the year leading up to the 2019 session, The Family Foundation was apart of a workgroup coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Institute to put forward a proposal for what to do about the windfall in revenue that was coming to the state. Along with several other conservative groups, we helped craft and jointly endorsed a tax reform plan that looked a lot like the one that ultimately passed.