elective abortions

Victory For Life: Dem Controlled Senate Agrees To End Taxpayer Funded Elective Abortions!

Late last night (after 9:00), life advocates achieved a significant policy and historic victory when the Democrat controlled Virginia Senate concurred with the House of Delegates on Governor Bob McDonnell's budget amendment eliminating elective, taxpayer funded abortions by a dramatic 20-19 vote (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)! Despite Icelandic volcanic eruptions, a pro-life senator's personal travel conflicts, and outright lies from pro-abortion legislative leaders and opponents, Virginia finally adopted provisions of the federal Hyde Amendment — enacted in 1982! — to de-fund state dollars from use in low-income, elective abortions. The Family Foundation and our pro-life allies have been working for decades to achieve this victory and, despite all odds, life triumphed. The amendment brings Virginia substantially in line with federal law that requires we pay for abortions only in the instances of rape, incest or life of the mother (see Washington Post). Prior to the governor's amendment, Virginia was one of only 17 states that funded elective ("health" of the mother) abortions. Other than in cases of "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or with a gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency," this will no longer be the case (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). We gratefully thank Governor McDonnell for introducing this important pro-life amendment and  all the delegates and senators who voted for it.

Here's how it happened:

The day began early in the morning as legislators and lobbyists flooded the capitol. While confident of a win in the House, the Senate vote was on a knife's edge. That chamber is almost evenly divided politically (22 Democrats and 18 Republicans), but with two pro-life Democrats. A 20-20 tie with would be broken by pro-life Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. But in something not remotely seen in anyone's memory, the Lt. Governor was stranded in Italy, after completing an economic development mission last week, due to the well publicized  volcanic ash cloud — and tie votes kill bills and amendments.

To make matters worse, pro-life Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Forest), had a flight to catch on personal business and as session dragged on through the afternoon — mainly on technical amendments on non-budget bills — it became apparent he would have to leave before the vote on the elective abortion funding amendment came up. Another vote had to be found. 

Meanwhile, the House did its part during the afternoon by agreeing to the amendment 64 to 30 (see vote here). It received bipartisan support — about a fifth of Democrats voting voted for it, including those from rural, suburban and rural areas.

Back in the Senate, the amendment (technically, "Governor's recommendation #91") didn't come to the floor until 9:00 p.m. Majority Leader Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35, Fairfax) unloaded one of his typical "Saslawstic" comments, firing full bore against the amendment. In a bizarre statement, and in contradiction to a legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, opposition lawmakers claimed that if the amendment passed, state employee abortions would no longer be covered by the state health plan. But state employees cannot be reimbursed for abortion expenses anyway, so the claim is unfounded. 

The one and only senator countering the deception was Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), who articulately defended the amendment from the bizarre attacks and argued brilliantly for its passage. Then, in a moment that directly parallels the Bible story of Gideon’s army, where the odds of victory were logically impossible, the vote was taken — and when the electronic board lit up, the total read: 20 yeas, 19 nays! Joining pro-life Democrat Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) was Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville) and the 17 Republicans in attendance. Long odds made longer with two key absences were overcome and the victory long sought by pro-life advocates was a reality (see vote here).

The Family Foundation would like to thank everyone who contacted legislators to encourage them to vote for this amendment. As the close vote shows, your voice was crucial in this success. We will post information in the coming days to assist you in thanking the important people who made this victory possible. In the meantime, we hope you will celebrate this monumental victory for life and truly meaningful change for the better.

Abortion Amendment Passes!

The Virginia Senate just moments ago passed a budget amendment, offered by Governor Bob McDonnell, that protects Virginia's taxpayers from paying for elective abortions! The vote was 20-19, with three Democrats joining all present Republicans in support of the amendment. The House of Delegates passed the amendment earlier today by a wide margin.

More details will be provided soon. We are going to stay at the Capitol until the Senate adjourns, regardless of the hour, to ensure that nothing happens to this amendment.

Planned Parenthood Fights Amendment Eliminating Taxpayer Funded Elective Abortions

Planned Parenthood (see LiveAction's latest undercover video) is fighting a budget amendment introduced by Governor Bob McDonnell that would prohibit taxpayer funding of most elective, low-income abortions. The General Assembly will vote on the amendment during tomorrow’s veto session.

We need your immediate action to thwart Planned Parenthood's attack!

Polls consistently show that between 60 and 70 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. Opposition that crosses gender and political lines exposes Planned Parenthood as extremely outside the mainstream but, unfortunately, they have influence in the Virginia Senate.

The Family Foundation and several of our pro-life partners have advocated for this amendment for several years. The amendment brings Virginia substantially in line with federal law that requires we pay for abortions in the instances of rape, incest or life of the mother. Currently, Virginia is one of only 17 states that funds elective (i.e., "health" of the mother) abortions.

To make matters more interesting, with a Senate chamber almost evenly divided politically, there is a strong possibility the vote on the amendment could be a tie. In that case, the presiding officer would cast the tiebreaking vote, and normally that is Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. Unfortunately, the Lt. Governor Bolling is stranded in Italy due to the travel restrictions over that Europe caused by the volcanic ash cloud emanating from Iceland. Thus, the President Pro Tem, Senator Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), will preside.

We believe the key to sustaining the amendment lies with a few key legislators: Senators Colgan, Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk). Please contact these Senators immediately by clicking the links to e-mail them and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell's elective abortion amendment.

Senator Fred Quayle: district13@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Roscoe Reynolds: district20@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Chuck Colgan: district29@senate.virginia.gov 

Senator Phil Puckett: district38@senate.virginia.gov

Urge Governor McDonnell To Ban Funding For Planned Parenthood, Taxpayer Funded Abortion, Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Governor Bob McDonnell currently is reviewing the state budget passed by the General Assembly during its recent session. He has the opportunity to send amendments to the General Assembly to bring the budget in line with his goals, objectives and values. In doing so, he can send to the legislature budget amendments that defund Planned Parenthood, elective abortions and failed embryonic stem cell research. The legislature, in turn, will vote on any amendments Governor McDonnell sends it during its veto session on Wednesday, April 21. In today’s financial climate, it is even more essential that these publicly unsupported expenditures causing the destruction of human life not be financially backed by a fiscally failing government. If financial support is to be handed out from Richmond for anything, there are numerous life supporting and worthy causes that come to mind that deserve and truly need support. Here's some background on the budget language that we hope Governor McDonnell sends the General Assembly:

Banning Planned Parenthood Funding: This amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of the radical pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood. In its last fiscal report, Planned Parenthood Federation of America reported a budget of more than $1 billion. During this decade, Virginia taxpayers have sent nearly $500,000 to Planned Parenthood, one of the most politically partisan organizations in our nation. They do not need your hard-earned tax dollars. By the way, Planned Parenthood is responsible for nearly a quarter of the abortions that take place in our nation.

Banning Funding for Elective Abortions: Incredibly in 2006 and 2007, Virginia tax dollars directly funded 322 elective abortions. The federal government requires states to subsidize abortions only when a Medicaid-eligible woman’s life is at risk or in the cases of rape and incest. In Virginia, we fund elective low-income abortions — a standard beyond what is required by the federal government. Regardless of their position on abortion, a vast majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.

Banning Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Let’s be honest, embryonic stem cell research has failed, while adult stem cell research has produced dozens of treatments and cures. Virginia has a clear choice: fund what works or fund failed research to make a political point. According to a recent article in Investor's Business Daily, California, the most severely racked state in the nation, has learned some difficult lessons:

Five years after a budget-busting $3 billion was allocated to embryonic stem cell research, there have been no cures, no therapies and little progress. So supporters are embracing research they once opposed (adult stem cell research).

With all this in mind, we need your action to redirect Virginia in a positive direction on these important public policy issues. They are so important, in fact, that Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham asked candidate McDonnell about them in October on her nationally syndicated radio talk show. He promised then to ban funding for Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funded elective abortions. (Planned Parenthood even attacked him for the pledge.) Hear his pledge for yourself, right here:

 

Now, please contact Governor McDonnell immediately and urge him to keep his word and send the General Assembly budget amendments prohibiting taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and elective abortions, as ewll as embryonic stem cell research.

Contact him by phone at 804-786-2211 or click here to e-mail him.

General Assembly Must Tame Its Appetite For Tax And "Fee" Increases

Yesterday, we asked you to contact your delegates and senators and urge them to support the three vital budget amendments that ban state funding for the partisan political organization Planned Parenthood, as well as the ones that ban embryonic stem cell research (which has not produced one medical advance) and elective abortions (Virginia funded 322 such abortions in 2006-2007). Today, we urge you to take action on the other side of the ledger. While we want to hold government spending to essential core services that fit the proper role of government — and eliminate excessive spending, especially for nefarious groups and causes — we also must make clear to our representatives that we are over taxed. In their work to close the $4 billion state budget deficit, our senators and delegates must know that they cannot bridge that gap on the backs of families, individuals and businesses who are struggling in this very tough economy.

The truth of the matter is that we have a "spending surplus" — not a deficit from a lack of revenue. In fact, if lawmakers are so concerned about the deficit, they should look at themselves before they do the taxpayers. The General Assembly has doubled spending in the Virginia budget over the last 10 years, several times the rates of inflation and population growth combined! But those facts don’t get in the way of special interest, big-government lobbyists who, unfortunately, have a lot of influence at the capitol. They will use every weapon in their arsenal to jack up taxes to pay for their pet projects and programs.

One weapon is the myth that public education is getting cut to the bone and that tax increases are necessary "for the children." However, spending on K-12 education in Virginia has increased by 60 percent over the last 10 years while enrollment in public schools has increased only 7.2 percent; and 60 percent of the budget is dedicated to education and health care. But the Senate (SB 30) and House (HB 30) budgets have $300 million and $76 million in tax and fee increases, respectively. When does it end?

The Senate budget increases the 911 "fee" on every cel phone and landline to pay for 911 centers. Two problems: The increased revenue won’t go to 911 centers and the "fee" as the Senate would have you believe, is defined as a tax in the Code of Virginia — and that’s just the beginning of what lawmakers want to do to you.

It’s time for lawmakers to do what Virginia families and job creators are doing — cut expenses! We can’t make money appear out of nowhere and the General Assembly shouldn’t try. Instead, it should tame its unabated appetite for hard-earned tax payer income.

Please contact your delegate and senator immediately and urge them to reject increased taxes and fees on Virginia families, individuals and businesses in the new budget .

If you know who they are, you can get their contact info here for delegates and here for senators. If you don’t know who your delegate and senator are, click here.

Pro-Life Budget Amendment Decisions This Week

We are in the final week of the 2010 Virginia General Assembly session, and legislators now are making decisions regarding the state budget. It is critical that your delegate and senator hear from you concerning budget amendments defunding Planned Parenthood, elective abortions and embryonic stem cell research. They are scheduled to vote on the budget in the next few days! In today’s financial climate, it is even more essential that these publicly unsupported issues causing the destruction of human life not be financially backed by a fiscally failing government. Here's a rundown on three budget amendments:

Banning Planned Parenthood Funding: This amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of the radical pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood. In its last fiscal report, this organization reported a budget of over $1 billion! During this decade, Virginia taxpayers have sent nearly $500,000 to Planned Parenthood, one of the most partisan organizations in our nation. They do not need your money! And of course, Planned Parenthood is responsible for nearly a quarter of the abortions that take place in our nation. In fact, as the national abortion rate is declining, the number of abortions taking place in Planned Parenthood clinics continues to rise.

Banning Funding for Elective Abortions: Incredibly, in 2006 and 2007, Virginia tax dollars directly funded 322 abortions. The federal government requires states to subsidize abortions only when a Medicaid-eligible woman’s life is at risk or in the cases of rape and incest. In Virginia, we fund elective low-income abortions — a standard beyond what is required by the federal government.

Banning Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research: This amendment, patroned by Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights), prohibits taxpayer funding of research that requires the destruction of human embryos and is consistent with other amendments placed on legislation funding research in Virginia. Embryonic stem cell research has failed, while adult stem cell research has produced dozens of treatments and cures.

In past years, several Senate budget negotiators, in particular Senators Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), Janet Howell (D-32, Reston) and Edd Houck (D-17, Spotsylvania), have refused to include similar amendments in the final budget. Incredibly, they have gone so far as to threaten to break off budget talks — threatening the entire state government and all its services — to keep the money flowing to Planned Parenthood and these other issues. They must be asked: When teachers and social services organizations are screaming because of budget "cuts," how can they funnel money to partisan organizations and failed research?

Please contact your delegate and senator immediately and urge them to support budget amendments prohibiting taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, embryonic stem cell research and elective abortions.

If you know who they are, you can get their contact info here for delegates and here for senators, or to look up Senators Saslaw, Howell and Houck. If you don't know who your delegate and senator are, click here.

When It Comes To NARAL's Report Card, Failure IS An Option For Virginia!

In some bright news amidst the regular drumbeat of negative national and state reports, Virginia earned a coveted grade from NARAL Pro-Choice America last week — an "F" in protecting abortion on demand! My message to them: You ain’t seen nothing yet!

However, just a quick glance at NARAL’s criteria for Virginia’s stellar grade conveys just how out of the mainstream NARAL actually is when it comes to abortion. For example, one strike against us is that we "ban a safe abortion procedure." That procedure is the brutal act of partial birth infanticide!

Another strike? We require "biased-counseling requirements and mandatory delays" prior to abortion. That would be the vastly popular and reasonable Informed Consent law. The bias-counseling? A pamphlet that describes the gestational development of an unborn child!

It gets better. Virginia also "restricts young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental consent." Imagine that, requiring a parent be involved in a medical procedure when a teenager is the patient!

They also claim that Virginia law "subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions." What would that be? We don’t allow women to be subjected to second and third trimester abortions inside unregulated and uninspected abortion centers, but instead require that they be done in hospitals.

All that before we even get to the lies. In one place they claim Virginia restricts low income women’s access to abortion when, in fact, Virginia is one of only 17 states that goes beyond federal requirements and pays for low income abortions that are "elective."

While we can all be somewhat proud of this failing grade, to me, we have a long way to go to restore a respect for human life in Virginia. That will happen when we finally require Virginia’s abortion centers to be regulated and inspected; when we no longer force taxpayers to fund Planned Parenthood and low income abortions; when we bring our Informed Consent laws into the 21st century by requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

So, although we don't think we truly deserve an "F," we hope you celebrate it for a moment. Then, let's all get back to work to truly earn that grade next year.

House Passes Four Pro-Life Budget Amendments!

Yesterday the House and Senate were supposed to finish work on their respective budgets, laying the groundwork for the budget debate over the final two weeks. Things do not, however, always go as planned in Richmond. While the Senate postponed its budget vote until next week (waiting on Governor Kaine's latest revenue conjecture, which didn't sit well with the House because now it is out on a limb), the House proceeded and passed several pro-life amendments that protect taxpayers from subsidizing unethical and failed research, elective abortions and a wealthy, partisan organization. In addition, the House included a language amendment that raises the safety standards at Virginia's abortion centers. A description of each:

One of the adopted amendments, introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Prince William), defunds Planned Parenthood. It passed 61-28. During this decade, Virginia taxpayers have unknowingly sent nearly $500,000 to this overtly partisan and pro-abortion organization. Its national annual budget is more than $1 billion. If the governor cut funding for abstinence education, ostensibly for cost savings, then we should not ask Virginians to send their hard earned money to this group.

Another amendment, also submitted by Delegate Marshall, prohibits the use of taxpayer funding of abortions. Incredibly, in 2006 and 2007, Virginia tax dollars funded 322 abortions (160 in fiscal-year 2007 and 162 in fiscal 2006). The federal government subsidizes abortions only when a Medicaid-eligible woman's life is at risk or in the cases of rape and incest. Virginia, however, goes above and beyond those requirements.  This extra funding should stop now.

A separate amendment, submitted by Delegate (and Majority Whip) Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights), prevents the funding of failed research that requires the destruction of human embryos. It passed 79-21. As many in the scientific community abandon embryonic stem cell research for the successful adult stem cell research, some in Virginia continue to advocate for taxpayer funding of the utterly unsuccessful embryonic version that simply has not lived up to its advocates' hype — producing not one major success. Meanwhile, adult stem cell research has produced dozens of cures and treatments (recently reversing the affects of some MS patients). Investment in adult stem cell research offers hope and promise, and that's where Virginia's money should go.

Also yesterday, the House voted 61-36 to add to the budget policy language that raises the safety standards of abortion centers. Similar legislation has passed the House several times in recent years, only to be killed in the Senate Education and Health Committee. Adding that language to the budget is a creative way to try to circumvent the "Committee of Death."

The House was seemingly caught off guard by the Senate's decision to postpone its budget vote, and continued work on its budget, passing it late in the afternoon yesterday. But the Senate adjourned without taking a vote on its budget and without, apparently, changing the midnight deadline for the vote.

Family Foundation's 2009 Legislative Agenda: Funding Abortion, Planned Parenthood

In the past three budget years, you have sent nearly $200,000 to the nation's largest private abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, which, by the way, makes millions of dollars nationally. Between 2006 and 2007 you paid for more than 300 elective abortions (not involving rape or incest).

Federal law requires Virginia pay for low-income abortions in cases of rape and incest. The Commonwealth, however, has decided to go beyond the requirement and fund "elective" abortions as well — hundreds of them. This taxpayer support of elective abortion is unnecessary and must end.

Likely, those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. The Commonwealth of Virginia hasn't exactly been forthcoming with information regarding how much taxpayer money is going to Planned Parenthood and to fund abortions, requiring multiple Freedom of Information Act requests from The Family Foundation and legislators. The real numbers are yet to be determined.

But whatever the case, taxpayer funding of these entities must stop!

For several years, The Family Foundation and our many pro-family partners, have worked to put an end to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood in Virginia. In 2008, we came ever so close and, for the first time, had budget language pass both the House and Senate that would have done just that, only to see the language left out of the final budget. We will work once again in 2009 to eliminate this funding.

Planned Parenthood, a national political behemoth, had an income in its last fiscal year of more than $1 billion. Incredibly, nearly one-third of that income comes from you, the American taxpayer. In its last annual report Planned Parenthood reported more than $330 million in government — i.e., taxpayer — grants.

What is this money used for?

Planned Parenthood is the largest private provider of abortion in the United States, performing more than one quarter of all abortions, or nearly 300,000 in 2006. As the national abortion rate has gradually declined in recent years, Planned Parenthood's abortion number continues to increase by double digits.

It is an organization that works everyday to end abstinence education in our schools and to replace it with their own agenda, a so-called comprehensive sex education program that results in more kids engaging in risky behaviors, more sexually transmitted diseases among our teenagers, more teenage pregnancy and, yes, more abortions — from which it profits.

It is an organization that supports the barbarity of partial birth abortion. It is an organization that fears beyond imagination the thought that a woman contemplating an abortion might have the opportunity to view an ultrasound of her unborn child.

It is an organization that does not need a "bailout" from the taxpayers (which is what we've provided it all these years).

As lawmakers face a $4 billion spending surplus and complain about not being able to balance the budget, they can start with the unnecessary taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and elective abortions. The Family Foundation will support budget amendments this year that do just that.