Tomorrow morning in Senate Room B beginning at 8:30, the Senate Education and Health Committee will vote on three remaining life bills. Not known for its dedication to the sanctity of life, thus the moniker Committee of Death, makes Thursday's battle is an uphill climb. In fact, it typically waits until the last committee meeting of session each year to kill House pro-life bills, i.e., "Black Thursday." However, despite its reputation, it's important that each of the 15 senators on this committee hear from Virginia citizens who value life. Click here to get committee members' contact information and urge them to support HB2147, HB1428, and HB1440. Here is a short description of the bills the committee will vote on: Abortion Funding Opt-Out for ObamaCare ObamaCare puts states in charge (see ObamaCare Lies) of their own health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses. If enacted today, Virginia potentially could include in its exchange health insurance plans that cover elective abortion. Pro-family citizens opposed to abortion would be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life. HB2147, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Rockbridge) is a bill that would prevent insurance plans in the Virginia health insurance exchange from providing abortion coverage. Five states have taken this step and several more are considering doing so, while Maryland and Pennsylvania will allow abortion coverage. This bill passed the House 60-36-2, but the Senate version died earlier this session in this committee 10-5. Abortion Center Safety HB1428, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Augusta), requires the regulation of abortion centers. This bill has only three simple conditions: an annual inspection, a requirement of life saving equipment on premises, and licensure by a state regulatory agency. Abortion center safety has received increased attention recently due to two unrelated events: a botched abortion originating in New Jersey and a "horror shop" abortion center in Philadelphia. Virginians must demand a higher level of professionalism and medical aptitude from abortion providers and facilities. This bill passed the House 66-33. Wrongful Death HB1440, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) is a bill that would provide protection (civil recourse) for the unborn in cases where they lose their life due to the negligence of another. While Virginia's Code does include a fetal homicide law, the same unborn life, taken without intention or premeditation, elicits no civil penalty. Improving our civil law to recognize fetal manslaughter is essential. An unborn life is not only of value when it is wanted by the mother or when it is intentionally killed. This bill passed 62-36-1 in the House, but the Senate version died 10-5 earlier this session in this committee.
This is the first in a series about key issues facing this year's General Assembly.
Last year, The Family Foundation successfully advocated for the passage of one of our top priority bills: the "Baby Bill." While the "Baby Bill" closed a loophole in Virginia law that previously allowed the killing of a child just moments after birth, this year we hope to build on that success by taking the protection of life one step further with the passage of legislation that would create a wrongful death statute for the unborn.
The Wrongful Death bill (HB 1440, the Senate bill has yet to be numbered) patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) and Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27, Winchester) would provide protection for the unborn in cases where they lose their life due to negligence of another.
While Virginia's Code does include a fetal homicide law, the same unborn life, taken without intention, or premeditation, elicits no penalty. Improving our law to provide for a civil penalty in the cases of fetal manslaughter is essential.
Virginia's current wrongful death law operates in accordance with the "born alive rule." The born alive rule dates back to a 1940s federal court decision declaring that a child could recover damages for injury caused in utero once they were born. By extension, if a baby is born alive (though sometimes barely and only through artificial means) and then dies, a parent can then pursue a wrongful death cause of action for the injury in utero.
Approximately 40 states have gone beyond the born alive rule and now allow for pre-birth wrongful death suits for injury caused to a fetus while in utero. The Wrongful Death bill would bring Virginia in line with current law in the vast majority of states. It defines life as beginning at conception and therefore has the practical effect of expanding the state's wrongful death statue to encompass all unborn children. After all, an unborn life is not only of value when it is wanted by the mother or when its life is intentionally taken by another.