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.
Virginia took the lead in opposing ObamaCare — first, with last year's Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act, then, later in the year, with a legal challenge to ObamaCare's constitutionality. This year, HB 2147, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Rockbridge), would prevent insurance plans in the Virginia health insurance exchange, required by ObamaCare, from providing abortion coverage. HB 2147 was introduced as a preemptive measure to ensure that Virginia taxpayers are not forced to subsidize abortion in the event that the lawsuit is not successful. If ObamaCare was fully implemented today, Virginia could potentially 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. However, the new federal healthcare law allows states to opt out of abortion funding in their statewide exchanges. More than 30 states have either passed or are introducing opt-out legislation regarding the coverage of abortion in these exchanges, while Pennsylvania and Maryland include it.
Last General Assembly session, just before Congressional liberals rammed through their government-run health insurance overhaul (see ObamaCare411.com), Virginia responded to the mood of its citizens and passed the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act. Once the federal health insurance changes were signed into law, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli quickly filed suit in federal court to defend (see video) the constitutional rights of Virginians.
Legal challenges aside, ObamaCare is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2014. While we hope Virginia's lawsuit will succeed, no one can, with anything close to certainty, count on the courts to invalidate the law or on Congress to repeal it (see 21StateLawSuit.com).
We especially are concerned about the provisions of the law that allow for abortion funding. That's because ObamaCare puts states in charge of their own health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses. If enacted today, Virginia could potentially include, in its exchange, plans that cover elective abortion. In fact, Pennsylvania and Maryland already have moved to include such plans (see CNSNews.com). Without intervention by the General Assembly, pro-family citizens opposed to abortion would be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life. Virginians may be divided on the issue of abortion, but a vast majority are opposed to publicly funding it with their hard earned tax dollars.
However, there is a clause in the federal health insurance plan that allows states to opt out of abortion funding in their state run exchanges. Such action also fulfills the executive order signed by President Obama that theoretically protects Americans from funding abortion through the health insurance scheme. According to Americans United for Life, a total of 25 states, including Virginia, have either opted out or have plans to introduce legislation with the hope of preventing health insurance companies in the exchange from providing abortion coverage.
Toward that end, The Family Foundation is supporting legislation introduced this session by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Rockbridge) that would prevent insurance plans in the Virginia exchange from providing abortion coverage. Especially in today's financial climate, it is unconscionable to mandate Virginians to underwrite a publicly unsupported issue resulting in the destruction of human life.
Governor Bob McDonnell late Tuesday amended the FY 2011-12 state budget to prohibit taxpayer funding of most elective, low-income abortions. The Family Foundation and several of our pro-life partners in Richmond have been advocating for just such an amendment for several years. For years, Virginia, despite its reputation as a "conservative" state, has funded abortions well beyond what federal law requires. Although not all elective abortions will be prohibited under the amendment, it would remove Virginia from the small list of states that funds elective (i.e., "health" of the mother) abortions. The General Assembly must accept this amendment at next Wednesday's veto session in order for it to become law. During this year's legislative session, a similar amendment was passed by the House of Delegates but rejected by the radical pro-abortion Senate hierarchy — and that is really where the battle lies. Regardless of what actions are taken by the governor, the Virginia Senate has been the body that has blocked nearly every pro-life effort for several years.
In fact, we wouldn't need the governor to introduce pro-life amendments at all if the Senate would pass budgets that include such language. It is clear that it will not be until the Senate reflects the values of Virginia that we will see these victories. The opportunity to make those changes is quickly approaching, as all 40 Senate seats are up for election in 2011.
But for now — over the next few days — we must put our time, energy and resources into this amendment to ban publicly financed elective abortions. This would be a tremendous victory, but to do this, we need your help.
We believe the key to sustaining the amendment lies with five key Senators:
Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk): 757-483-9173 firstname.lastname@example.org
John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian): 804-379-2063 email@example.com
Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville): 276-638-2315 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas): 703-368-0300 email@example.com
Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell): 276-979-8181 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact these senators today by phone numbers or e-mail adresses listed above and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell’s elective low-income abortion amendment. With your help, we can make a significant advance in Virginia for the preservation of life and realize the fruits of last November's hard work.
Annotations & Elucidations Obama Says Drill, Baby, Drill
Wow, the Obama administration is doing something that makes sense? Allowing drilling off the coast of Virginia? There must be some catch. But, at least in its preliminary stage, Governor Bob McDonnell and the vast majority of Virginians are getting their wish. Of course, he's slamming the door on production in Alaska, California, Florida and elsewhere. No doubt, he's aiming for some political cover, especially as he now pushes for extreme regulatory restrictions on U.S. energy consumption. (See? I'm for all types of energy, I support drilling.)
Elsewhere, does the governor's "no major budget changes" include the status quo on Planned Parenthood, elective abortion and embryonic stem cell research? He also looks to make some permanent restructuring (smaller) state government. So have others. We'll see.
Meanwhile, offering reason to the disingenuousness of the left, who claim Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's court challenge to the federal government's health care takeover is a waste of taxpayer money, are editorials, commentaries and news coverage from all over the commonwealth. I commend them to you all. Speaking of the power grab, it's not all as great as the libs projected as they find out not more than a week after it passed. So much for that child coverage being cheaper — or even existent; and Henry Waxman is showing his tolerance for speech and financial freedom by a witch trial for companies that dare say they will lose money because of the health care takeover. The AP has the details.
Va. governor to name team to reshape, shrink operations (Washington Post)
McDonnell not expecting major budget changes (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Cuccinelli: Health-care lawsuit could save state $1 billion (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Obama to Allow Oil Drilling Off Virginia Coast (AP/AOLNews)
Group opposing health care orders DNC to stop using its slogan (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)
One threat proven real against GOP Congressman (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Editorial: Health Care: Unconstitutional (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
University of Wyo. cancels William Ayers speech (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Health premiums could rise 17 pct. for young adults (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Obama administration moves to fix kids coverage gap (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Obama: Tea party features 'core group' against him (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Obama signs student loan/health care legislation in Virginia (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Is the Va. attorney general wasting tax money on Obamacare lawsuit? No. (Mark Hemingway/Washington Examiner)
Virginia Democrats suddenly discover spending discipline (Mark J. Fitzgibbons/Washington Examiner)
'Change' Is Not New (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)
Liberals In Vitriol Denial (Brent Bozell/GOPUSA.com)
Henry Waxman: the Witch Hunter of Capitol Hill (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)
Frustrating, Stubborn Facts (Tony Blankley/GOPUSA.com)
Why the Tenth Amendment is Important (Richard Olivastro/GOPUSA.com)
Obama's Gifts to the 'Outlier' Have Only Just Begun (David Limbaugh/GOPUSA.com)
The (Health Care) Law of Unintended Consequences (Doug Patton/GOPUSA.com)
Clowns to the left, Jokers on the Right (Debra Saunders/GOPUSA.com)