Virginia Society for Human Life

Abortion Center Application In Fairfax City Is Withdrawn

Some big news tonight from Olivia Gans, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, as posted on the VSHL Facebook page:

Thank you to everyone that came out last night to speak against the proposed abortion facility in Fairfax City! Just to keep you all updated about it, as of last night's meeting we were told by the Mayor that they (NOVA Women's Health) had rescinded their application at this time. There were close to 40 folks there last night, all pro-life, to speak and many still did, including me. The city council graciously listened to all who wanted to speak. We must remain vigilant, as we expect the abortion facility to re-apply soon! Please like the Virginia Society for Human Life FB page for more updates!

First, it was a Hampton Roads abortion center that announced it was closing. Now this. Good news and good news. Momentum is on the pro-life side. But as Olivia wrote, we must stay vigilant and continue to make the case — legally, morally, logically and medically.

Pro-Lifers Rally, Board Adopts Regulations!

The Virginia Board of Health Friday voted to adopt strong abortion center safety standards after a long day of competing protests, debate and tension. An estimated crowd of 500 people lined up at the building where the board met, evenly divided between pro-life Virginians and abortion supporters. It was a stark contrast to the June meeting where more than 100 abortion protestors dominated the day and where the board voted to water down abortion center regulations to exempt existing centers from important building standards required by the Code of Virginia. Because Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify those regulations — they didn't meet the demands of the code — the board had to revisit the issue Friday. For weeks both pro-life and pro-abortion groups encouraged people to attend, and hundreds did, in addition to several dozen uniformed and plain clothes police who where there to ensure security.

The day began early, as Family Foundation staff began lining up outside the building at 6 a.m. to ensure we would be in the meeting room to testify. Only 100 seats were available in the room, and only those in the room could testify. After going through security checks, including metal detectors, we settled into the room for a long day.

The difference between this meeting and the one in June was remarkable. That day, the room was dominated by radical pro-abortion protestors and, quite honestly, it was a very spiritually dark day. Friday was radically different. In the room were dozens of pro-life supporters, including several pastors. Those who attended both meetings could feel the difference in the atmosphere. A few pastors who attended our Pastors Summit in Richmond Thursday were there, as were several from the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists.

We could feel the prayers of pastors and pro-life Virginians! I cannot express enough of my gratitude for all of you who attended today's meeting, or who prayed for us. The support was incredible, and I have no doubt it made an impact on the results. During a year where elected officials and others have been viciously attacked by the abortion industry and media, and abortion supporters have mobilized in large numbers, pro-life Virginians needed to show up and prove again that we are the dominant voice in Virginia . . . and show up we did!

Public testimony was extended to one hour (normally 20 minutes) in an attempt to accommodate the crowd. In my testimony, I told the board that after the uncovering last week of more than 80 health and safety violations in nine abortion centers, the industry, which has claimed for years to be safe and in no need of oversight, was not in a position to be trusted and therefore should have no say in how it is regulated. Several other pro-life organizations also testified including the Virginia Catholic Conference, Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists, Family Research Council and the Rutherford Institute. Others attending included the Virginia Society for Human Life, Students For LifeAmericans United for Life and Concerned Women for America Virginia. Our special thanks to Alliance Defending Freedom, which sent a letter to members earlier this week to clarify the board's legal authority and to other groups who encouraged the turnout.

In addition, Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) testified that the General Assembly did not intend to exempt any abortion centers. In 2011, Delegate Byron amended SB 924 to include abortion centers. She said that during the legislative debate, the intent was clear and that the bill was passed by chambers controlled by different parties. Her testimony was crucial to clarify some misunderstanding on the board over whether the General Assembly wanted existing abortion centers to be "grandfathered in" without the building standards. We so appreciate Delegate Byron's willingness to once again stand up for life in a hostile atmosphere, as she did time and again during this year's General Assembly.

Representatives of the abortion industry continued their pattern of deception. Incredibly, one person testified that the industry “supports regulations” but just opposed the building standards. The same individual has testified several years in a row at the General Assembly against bills that would have required only licensing, inspections and emergency equipment!

They also attacked The Family Foundation's release this week of inspection records showing widespread health and safety violations, saying that the centers inspected had received their licenses anyway and that the violations were minor. We don't consider a bloody patient table minor. We don't consider a freezer two-thirds filled with fetal remains and blood minor! But they do. The fact is, however, that those centers were not licensed until after they submitted plans to correct the violations and those centers are now subject to unannounced inspections. For years, they fought against the very inspections they now say they support and that uncovered the problems listed.

But the primary target of the abortion industry was, and still is, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. They continued their assault because he made the decision to uphold the law of Virginia and not certify the regulations in June. Of course, I'm sure they'd rather pick on the AG and cry "politics" instead of having to answer to questions about bloody patient tables, frozen fetal remains and untrained staffs.

The board, however, was not fooled. By an overwhelming vote of 13-2 it rejected several more attempts by one board member to water down the regulations and then voted to adopt the standards by the same vote.

While a major victory, the process to finalize these standards is not finished. They must go through several more steps in the next several months, including two lengthy public comment periods. It is crucial that pro-life Virginians make their voice heard once again during that time. If you spoke or wanted to speak Friday, please write your comments down and hold on to them for submission during the public comment period. We will provide ample notice.

Thanks again to everyone who attended Friday's meeting, testified or prayed. A special thank you to those post-abortive women who attended, some speaking publicly for the first time. We are so grateful and encouraged by your support, and I know the Board of Health members were as well. To get a feel for what it was like at the meeting, please click here for a series of photos.

Pro-life Virginians were not out manned at the crucial Board of Health Meeting Friday. For more scenes from the historic vote, click here or the image above.

Thanking Our Pro-Life Allies For The Abortion Funding Ban Victory!

We hope you are still celebrating with us over the passage of the budget amendment that significantly reduces taxpayer funding for elective abortions in Virginia (Amendment #91)! This is a long-awaited milestone in our journey toward Virginia becoming the most pro-life state in the nation. While Family Foundation staff worked tirelessly for weeks to encourage Governor Bob McDonnell to introduce this pro-life amendment and then for the General Assembly to sustain it, we would be remiss if we did not recognize those who aided us in this fight. Please join us in thanking these important people in the pro-life movement.

First, if Governor Bob McDonnell had not introduced this elective low-income abortion amendment, there would be nothing to celebrate today. His stand on this amendment is commendable. Please click here to send him an e-mail of thanks or call him at 804-786-2211.

Even with the governor's introduction of the amendment, its passage would have been tenuous had there been no one to articulate the amendment's merits and stand in its defense on the Senate floor. Never one to back down from a fight, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) was the only senator willing to verbally support the amendment on the floor. Senator Obenshain's reasoned defense was crucial to the amendment’s passage and the retention of key swing votes. Please send Senator Obenshain an email of thanks at district26@senate.virginia.gov or call him at 540-437-1451.

Without votes, success is unattainable. While all votes were equally important, special thanks go to Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville) who, despite intense pressure from their party and Planned Parenthood/NARAL to tow the party line, voted their conscience and made a courageous stand for life. Additionally, thanks to all the delegates (64) and senators (20) of both parties who voted for this important pro-life amendment.

Special thanks goes to the Virginia Catholic Conference, Virginia Society for Human Life and the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists for working side by side with us in the days leading up to this important vote and for their tireless efforts yesterday, remaining with us and never leaving the capitol grounds from early morning until the end. Iron sharpens iron and we are thankful for their support. Along those lines, we would be remiss if we did not thank all of you who contacted the governor and key legislators throughout the past month. The governor and legislators listened — your voice was crucial to success.

But ultimately, thanks be to God for this miraculous legislative victory! God, like he did with Gideon’s army, whittled down the numbers on the ground to an illogical amount — the absences of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Forest) — so that in the end, success could only be attributed to the proper source — Him. Join us today in giving thanks to Him for this protection of life after decades of waiting.

Another Year In The Committee Of Death

The Senate Education and Health Committee richly deserves its "Committee of Death" moniker — it has been the graveyard for pro-life legislation for most of the decade. No pro-life bill has survived this committee regardless of its simplicity or common sense. As usual, a valuable bill that would have improved the safety regulations of the Commonwealth’s abortion centers was defeated there yesterday on a vote of 11-4 — a party line vote, with the exception of Senator Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), who voted against the bill as he did last year. Patroned by Delegate Matt Lohr (R-26, Harrisonburg), HB 393 would require that these unregulated surgical facilities that perform abortions to be inspected, have emergency life-saving equipment, and be overseen by a state regulatory agency just as any other outpatient surgical center. This legislation has long been a pro-life priority. Delegate Lohr eloquently pointed out to the committee the disparity between how these unregulated surgical abortion centers are treated compared to other medical facilities. As inexplicable as it is, 11 members of the committee believe that incredibly less invasive procedures such as lasik surgery, blood donation, face lifts, colonoscopies and oral surgery should be held to higher standards than abortion procedures.

Perhaps most alarming was Dr. Wendy Klein, from the VCU School of Medicine, who claimed, "Abortion is the safest medical procedure you can have!" The opposition to HB 393 cited the National Abortion Federation, an association that oversees seven abortion centers in Virginia, as a reliable self-regulatory organization. However, as I clarified in my testimony, this is far from reassuring. For example, NAF requires only a midlevel clinician (not necessarily a physician) to perform an abortion procedure. Fortunately, Virginia Code protects against this, but clearly NAF guidelines, as exemplified in this one standard, cannot be assumed sufficient!

Countering these arguments, in addition to Delegate Lohr and The Family Foundation, were a number of organizations that clearly outnumbered the pro-abortion forces, including representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, Virginia Society For Human Life and the Virginia Catholic Conference.

Dr. Klein was at it again on HB 334, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas). This bill, also defeated yesterday on the exact same 11-4 vote, would bolster Virginia's informed consent law by making available to women seeking abortions statistics that show the difficulties of future pregnancies and births to women who previously had abortions (as much as eight times higher). She said that bill presumes women can't figure out things for themselves. So, she admits there are risks!

Even more shocking was Senator Dick Saslaw's (D-35, Springfield) response to the citation of the House of Delegates vote on this bill (95-2). He said a member told him it got that many votes because many who voted for it knew "we'd kill it over here." Aside from the crass cynicism and joy he seemed to take in those seemingly vindictive words, if Senator Saslaw is correct, it shows that an overwhelmingly large amount of Virginians favor this type of legislation and that their representatives are afraid to vote against their constituents' interests. The pro-abortion crowd can't have it both ways.

While it is difficult to stand before this committee year in and year out with such reasonable legislation only to see it killed, we appreciate the legislators who are willing to continue to force lawmakers to go on record opposing this legislation. The Family Foundation remains committed to fighting for pro-life and pro-family issues.

Statement From The Virginia Society For Human Life On The 4th Circuit’s Upholding Of Virginia’s Partial Birth Abortion Ban

OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE VIRGINIA SOCIETY FOR HUMAN LIFE ON THE RULING BY THE 4TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS UPHOLDING VIRGINIA'S LAW BANNING PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION

The Virginia Society for Human Life applauds the decision of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals today which upheld by a vote of 6 to 5 Virginia's Partial Birth Infanticide Ban. This vital piece of pro-life legislation protects the lives of unborn children from the gruesome procedure known as "partial birth abortion." During such an abortion a living late term unborn baby is partially removed from his/her mother's womb and the skull is punctured allowing the baby's brains to be sucked out.

The procedure also puts the baby's mother at grave risk of future complications both physical and psychological. It is a clear victory for the lives of babies and their mothers in Virginia that the Court has upheld this reasonable and important law.

"There is no doubt that the Virginia's Partial Birth Abortion Infanticide Ban will save the lives of hundreds of Virginia babies from this horrible and violent procedure. The mothers of these children deserve medical care that respect and protect their lives as well, rather then subject them to the dangers of abortion. Partial birth abortion is a deadly act that the people of Virginia have rightly rejected through the General Assembly and the Court was correct to uphold this important law," said Olivia Gans, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life.

VSHL is very grateful for the leadership of the office Attorney General of Virginia, in particular Mr. Bob McDonnell for successfully guiding this issue through the courts during his term of office.