Virginia's Informed Consent law

Senator Colgan Dissed By Fellow Dems On Abortion Vote

On a 22-18 bipartisan vote today, the Senate of Virginia defeated a bill that would have removed language protecting taxpayers from funding abortion from Virginia's law regarding Obamacare. The bill, SB 618, was patroned by Senator Mamie Locke (D-2, Hampton). At the same time, the Senate passed SB 617, also patroned by Senator Locke, a bill that would repeal the sonogram requirement in Virginia's Informed Consent Law, on a 21-20 vote, with Lt. Governor Ralph Northam casting the tie-breaking vote. Tie votes aren't always that straightforward and this was anything but, with a controversy that may have ramifications well beyond even this session, ripping at the already stressed traditional Senate collegiality due to the unprecedented mid-session power shift. What followed left experienced General Assembly watchers saying they thought they "had seen everything until today."

After lengthy debate the bill initially went down to defeat 22-18, with Republican John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) voting with the pro-abortion side, while the pro-life side picked up three Democrats: Senators Charles Colgan and Phillip Puckett (D-29, Tazewell), both generally pro-life, as well as, surprisingly, Toddy Puller (D-36, Mount Vernon) — a reliable pro-abortion vote. 

The Puller vote shocked everyone and, accordingly, observers expected a motion for a reconsideration vote — a procedure that allows someone from the prevailing side to ask for another vote, done as a courtesy for someone who accidentally voted the opposite of his or her intention. It can only be done once per bill unless the chamber gives unanimous consent to suspend the rule. After a few more bills were voted on, Senator Puller made the motion. A one vote flip would preserve the defeat of the bill, so no one expected the vote board to flash what, in fact, shockingly became a 20-20 tie. 

As it turned out, Senator Colgan (D-29, Manassas) the senior member of the chamber, and its President Pro Tempore, accounted for the second flipped vote when he accidentally voted "yes," even though Republican Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) briefly rose prior to the vote to remind senators which bill they were reconsidering. Before long the Senate was in recess with each side plotting its floor tactics. Senator Watkins, being on the prevailing side now, made a motion for the suspension of the rules in order for Senator Colgan — who, by all accounts, was visibly distressed by his mistake and asked for another chance — to vote his conscious.

The vote to suspend the rules was 37-1, with Senator Locke providing the solitary vote necessary to prevent the third vote which would have sunk her bill for good. But make no mistake: The entire pro-abortion Democrat bloc was against the motion, allowing Senator Locke, as the bill's patron, to take the hit in order for the other pro-abortion Democrats to affect the appearance of bipartisanship.

Senator Norment took the floor again. Some anticipated that he would take advantage of Senate rules to kill remaining Democrat bills on the calendar. That is, as today was "Crossover Day" (when all bills originating in the Senate and House must be dealt with by those respective chambers) bills that had not been on the floor for three days needed unanimous consent to get their final up and down votes, or automatically die. He told Democrats that was not the GOP plan, but reminded them in no uncertain terms of the unprecedented nature of their actions. Some took that as an implied threat. We shall see what, if anything, GOP senators have in mind. Some suggested that he should have used that leverage to get a new vote.

TFF President Victoria Cobb issued this statement:

The evidence continues to mount showing that liberals in Richmond are interested only in power and bludgeoning even their own members to deny their consciences. Make no mistake — there were more members of the Virginia Senate today that opposed both abortion bills than supported them. It was only by mistake that one passed. Clearly, among Senate Democrat leaders, orthodoxy to the abortion industry takes precedent over the consciences even of their own members.

SB 617 would remove Virginia's requirement that a woman receive an ultrasound and be offered the opportunity to view it prior to an abortion. SB 618 would have removed the "opt-out" language allowed by Obamacare that protects taxpayers from subsidizing abortion in Virginia's federal health care exchange.

 

 

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.