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.

Contact your senator by e-mail.

Contact your senator by phone.

Learn who your senator is.

HHS: New Regs Protect Medical Workers

The United States Department of Health and Human Services last week announced new regulations that protect the right of conscience of pro-life medical professionals (see Washington Post, here). The Family Foundation and the Virginia Catholic Conference urged you to send public comments to HHS this past fall in support of these new rules. Your work, and that of thousands of others, paid off. The new regulations establish needed clarification and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that medical personnel are not coerced into participating in procedures, such as abortions, that violate their moral, ethical and religious convictions.

Tony Perkins, President of The Family Research Council said:

This is a huge victory for religious freedom and the First Amendment. No one should be forced to have an abortion, and no one should be forced to be an abortionist. These regulations will ensure that conscience protection statutes will be strongly enforced by the government just as other civil rights laws are.  It's also a victory for the right of patients to choose doctors who agree with their personal beliefs.

Pro-abortion groups, such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL, already are urging the incoming Obama administration to reverse the regulations. 

For several years The Family Foundation has worked to extend Virginia's current conscience clause protection to pharmacists who are often forced, against their beliefs, to distribute abortifacient chemical drugs like the so-called emergency contraceptive "Plan-B." Planned Parenthood sees this issue as a major threat to their financial well-being. Remember, for several years, the federal government provided financial supplements to Planned Parenthood's purchase of Plan-B.

At a time when religious liberty rights are under constant threat and are gradually being removed, this is a tremendous victory for the right of conscience. Despite the cries of radical pro-abortion groups, these new regulations will in no way threaten or diminish real health care. They will simply provide protections for people whose religious convictions forbid them from participating in abortion related services.

No Better Source

We're not lawyers, but here's what we think is some sound legal advice based on the recent course of action by Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring. Referring to his decision not to prosecute four former employees of Commonwealth Catholic Charities who aided and assisted an underage Guatemalan girl with an abortion by signing a form they had no authority to sign (never mind the abortionist who apparently was all too eager to perform the abortion without any verification of the signer's legal status) because he did not find "criminal intent": The next time someone is charged in the city of Richmond with a moving vehicle violation (speeding, reckless driving, running a red light) or any other charge or crime where the proof of intent cannot be proved short of Mr. Spock's Vulcan Mind Meld, simply tell the judge you had no purpose in mind and submit as evidence no better source than Mr. Herring's own quote about intent.

After all, if you hit someone's car and wreck your own, it's pretty obvious you didn't want to damage your car, much less have to pay to repair someone else's. Seems intent there is harder to prove than the conscious decision to sign a form claiming you had legal guardianship of a 16-year-old immigrant.

Of course this example is a bit absurd. But no less absurd than his decision to forsake such an obvious breech of the law.