gestational age

GA Update: This Week's Abortion Votes

Yesterday morning, the Senate Education and Health Committee, on a party line 9-5 vote (with 1 abstention) reported SB 617 to the Senate floor, a bill that would repeal the ultrasound update to the informed consent law that conservatives fought hard to pass in 2012. The bill's patrons are Senators Mame Locke (D-2, Hampton) and Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico). The full Senate will vote on the ultrasound repeal bill Tuesday. Virginia's ultrasound law allows women the opportunity to see their unborn child prior to making an irreversible, life-altering decision. While ultrasounds were already standard protocol prior to the 2012 legislation, abortion doctors were not showing the picture to their patients. This window into the womb is powerful and no matter the choice of a woman, it allows her a more informed decision and reduces regret. The ultrasound law is about requiring the abortion doctor simply to turn the screen.

Additionally, ultrasounds are medically necessary prior to an abortion. An ultrasound determines not only gestational age, but gestational position (whether the pregnancy is uterine or ectopic), viability, if a woman is actually pregnant (it's not unheard of for an abortion to be performed on a non-pregnant woman), and if there are multiples. All of these factors are critical information for the doctor to have when the abortion is performed if the safety of the woman is a priority.

However, we know that all too often, unfortunately, the safety of the woman is not the first priority of abortion doctors. An owner of two abortion centers in Virginia was found not even to have medical-malpractice insurance despite swearing otherwise under oath (see The New Yorker). Virginia Department of Health inspection reports reveal that the Roanoke Medical Center for Women performed abortions on multiple minors without parental notification or consent, in violation of Virginia law. There are countless other violations we could cite, but suffice it to say the abortion industry has proven that a woman's safety is not its priority. That is precisely why ultrasounds must be required — for a woman's safety because we cannot rely on the abortion industry to take precautions.

The Education and Health Committee also voted to report SB 618 yesterday on another party line vote (9-6). The bill, patroned by Senator Locke, would reinstate abortion funding in Virginia's federally mandated healthcare exchange. It would force taxpayers to subsidize abortions against their conscience. It will be up for final passage in the Senate on Tuesday as well.

The Virginia Senate is not the only chamber taking abortion votes. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates voted on several important measures, as well. The Courts of Justice Constitutional Law Sub-Committee voted to defeat three different attempts to repeal or water down the ultrasound law (HB 546, HB 547 and HB 1056), and a measure that would redefine birth control to include "emergency contraception" or the morning after pill (HB565,). The bills' patrons all were Democrat women: Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn, Jeion Ward and Vivian Watts.

The subcommittee also tabled by voice vote HB 98, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), a bill that would have criminalized sex-selective abortion. The committee cited various enforcement issues that they were unable to easily fix (i.e., is it fair to criminalize the doctor for the discriminatory thoughts of the mother? How do you prove the baby was aborted for sex-selective reasons?), but seemed to resonate with the concept behind the bill.

The battle for the sanctity of life is fierce in Richmond. Please be in prayer over these Senate bills. Pray that pro-life senators are courageous in their stand for life despite political pressure to the contrary. Your prayers are of great value and are much appreciated.

Life Bills In Senate Education And Health Committee Thursday!

It's that time of session again. Thursday, the Senate Education and Health Committee will vote on multiple pro-life bills. This is the committee that has blocked meaningful pro-life legislation for years. Despite the history, we still want to make sure every member of that committee knows where their constituents stand on this issue — particularly since it’s an election year.  Please contact the senators on this committee (click here for committee contact links) and urge them to support SB 1202, SB 1207/SB1378, SB1217, and SB 1435. These pro-life bills could radically change the culture of life in our Commonwealth:

SB 1202: Abortion Funding Opt-Out for ObamaCare 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 health insurance plans that cover elective abortion.  Pro-family citizens opposed to abortion would be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life. SB 1202, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), is a bill that would prevent insurance plans in the Virginia health insurance exchange from providing abortion coverage. Five other states have taken this step so far, and several more are considering doing so, while Pennsylvania and Maryland are allowing abortion coverage.   SB 1435: Ultrasound/Informed Consent SB 1435, patroned by Senator Ralph Smith (R-22, Botetourt), updates Virginia's informed consent law with modern technology. It would require a woman to have an ultrasound and the option of viewing it prior to an abortion. Currently, a woman is given a pamphlet with generic pictures of fetal development. This bill would give the woman specific information about her child and allow her to make a truly informed decision. It also would help prevent mistaking the gestational age of the unborn child that can lead to illegal abortions. Two years ago, this bill died in this committee with a vote of 11-4.   SB 1378 and SB 1207: Wrongful Death of the Unborn SB 1207, patroned by Senator Obenshain, and SB 1378, patroned by Senator Bill Stanley (R-19, Danville), are bills 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 its life is intentionally taken by another.   SB 1217: Coerced Abortion SB 1217, patroned by Senator Smith, provides that any person who forces or coerces a pregnant female of any age to have an abortion against her will is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Shockingly, this type of coercion is not currently criminalized. Given that homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women according to a study in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, Virginia needs to do more to protect women and their wanted unborn children. Women should not be forced to abort to avoid violence. Last year, this bill died in this committee by a vote of 10-5.    Be a voice for the voiceless and let these senators know that you will be watching how they vote with the expectation that they will vote yes for life this Thursday.

Pro-Life Bills Up Thursday In Senate Ed And Health

This Thursday the Senate Education and Health Committee will vote on several pro-life bills that are priorities of The Family Foundation. Please contact the members of the Ed and Health committee (see here) and urge them to pass the following bills:

HB 334 (Delegate Bob Marshall, R-13, Manassas): This bill would require that our Informed Consent law be updated to include information that has been published in a peer reviewed medical journal about the consequences of abortion on future pregnancies. Ironically, Planned Parenthood, which has accused pregnancy resource centers of disseminating information that is not "medically accurate," is opposed to this bill that requires the information given to women at Virginia's unregulated abortion centers to be exactly that —  medically accurate.

HB 393 (Delegate Matt Lohr, R-26, Harrisonburg): This legislation would require Virginia’s unregulated abortion centers to have on site life saving equipment, as well as require licensing and regular inspection. Currently, Virginia’s abortion centers are unregulated and uninspected.

HB 1042 (Delegate Kathy Byron, R-22, Lynchburg): This bill would require that unregulated abortion centers perform an ultrasound to better determine the gestational age of the unborn child prior to an abortion, and offer the woman seeking the abortion the opportunity to view the ultrasound. It would bring Virginia's Informed Consent law in line with modern medical technology.

If you are familiar at all with the Virginia General Assembly then you are aware just how antagonistic the majority of the Ed and Health committee usually is toward even the most reasonable pro-life legislation. On an annual basis, we see pro-life bills die on what we have begun to call "Black Thursday" — the last Thursday of committee hearings each session.

Why, bother contacting these legislators who seem so clearly opposed to protecting the unborn? There are several reasons:

First, past votes are not always indications of future action. Legislators change their minds. You may recall Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath), while running for governor, talking about "growing" as a legislator (he was referring to his flip-flop on the Marriage Amendment). We have worked with legislators who have become more and more pro-life over their time in the legislature, often through the education process associated with debate over these bills.

Which leads to a second reason, education. These bills offer us the opportunity to educate both legislators and the public on these important issues. They give you the opportunity to discuss controversial issues with friends and neighbors by talking about reasonable measures often supported by large majorities. Each time we present these bills to a committee we are able to reach more people with the message of the importance of protecting both the unborn and women who face a crisis pregnancy. You never know when a legislator is going to hear an argument that is going to change their opinion of a certain piece of legislation.

Finally, these votes expose where legislators currently are on reasonable abortion measures. Several members of the Ed and Health committee are in districts that have a pro-life  constituency. These senators mask as "moderate," but their voting records on these bills have exposed their real positions. Next year, when these senators are up for re-election, the voters in their districts will know exactly where they stand on these issues because they will have a four-year voting record to look at. Voters will then be able to hold them accountable for their votes.

So, please do your part. Contact the members of the Ed and Health committee and urge them to support HB 334, HB 393 and HB 1042.