Of all the aspects of the socialized medicine legislation making its way through Congress, the most disturbing piece of it (which is saying a a great deal considering all the freedoms that will be taken away from us) is the taxpayer funding of abortion on demand (a ban of which has been a bi-partisan policy for decades). Yet, as a candidate, Barack Obama had something interesting to say about that. Here are two short videos from FRC Action that point out, vividly, the travesty that is this legislation. First, candidate Obama's seemingly pro-life statement followed by some philosophical questions he has yet to answer (except through his abortion-on-demand actions), then a poignant point about the legislation that should concern every American.
Last week we posted a sampling of the feedback Congressional supporters of the socialized medicine legislation experienced at home in their districts and states. Here's three more, all from a town hall meeting in St. Louis, hosted by the staff of one of the top lightweights in Washington, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri). In the first one, McCaskill gets a civics 101 lesson, courtesy of one of America's truely best and brightest. It's something, clearly, she never learned:
Then, a to-the-point, commonsense question about true equality, a virtue for which liberals so eloquently exclaim that they, and they alone, uphold:
Finally, this meeting was supposed to be an equal representation of pro- and anti- "health care reform" constituents. We report. You decide.
Liberal politicians rarely see the light, but a motivated grassroots certainly can make them feel the heat! We can do the same here in Virginia.
This morning the Senate Courts of Justice Committee defeated HB 2314 patroned by Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Galax). This bill would have restored to the Commonwealth's State Trooper chaplains the religious liberty right to pray according to the dictates of their conscience. This restoration of freedom is necessary after State Police Superintendent Stephen Flaherty issued an administrative order that chaplains can no longer pray "in the name of Jesus." This decision has been strongly supported by Governor Kaine's administration despite the pursuant resignations of six chaplains. In a long and very contentious meeting, HB 2314 was the final bill to be heard. Testimony was offered on both sides. (Video of the debate will be available here tomorrow.) Joining The Family Foundation in speaking in support of the bill was the state Solicitor General Steve McCullough, the Rev. Sherylann Bragton of City of Love Ministries and Dr. Jack Knapp of the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists. In opposition to the bill were the ACLU, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Interfaith Center for Public Policy and a Jewish police chaplain from northern Virginia.
Opponents used their typical arguments, such as stating that in order to minister to all people one must strip any religious references out of their prayers. The police chaplain stated, "When I don my police uniform I am no longer representing my congregation as a Jewish clergy. Instead I am representing the government."
While he may choose to leave his particular faith at the door when he ministers to others, to have the state require that one minister in this way is not acceptable. Delegate Carrico continued to remind the committee that the state police policy of censorship was issued not as the result of a single complaint of proselytizing but instead out of an ideological agenda.
Leading the charge to defeat the bill was Senator Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg). Instead of outright voting against the bill, Senator Norment chose to do something even more detrimental to the effort being waged by those who seek to uphold First Amendment freedoms — he offered amendments accepted by a majority of the committee in which he inserted "nonsectarian" before each mention of prayer in the bill. As Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) pointed out to the committee and myriad of reporters following this hearing, a plain reading of this new language indicated that the amended bill would enshrine the state superintendent's policy into perpetuity. It was an amendment intended to kill the entire purpose of the bill.
Even after the killer amendment was accepted, the bill died by a majority vote. If you are interested to know where people really stood on this bill, those who voted against the Norment amendment actually support the religious liberty rights upon which this nation was founded: Senators Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover), Robert Hurt (R-19, Chatham) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville).
Despite the testimony of opponents to this legislation the facts are clear — neither the Constitution nor the Courts of the United States require or compel a faithless, non-religious, nonsectarian prayer at government events. Sadly, as is often the case for some members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, the facts and the law are but a distasteful distraction.
Unfortunately, for six state police chaplains, this decision renders meaningless the protection of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which states:
"That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
Tuesday is "crossover" day in the General Assembly, the day when work on bills from their respective chambers must be complete. The past two weeks have been long and intense, as you have been able to tell by reading this blog and by the number of e-mail alerts you've received. (If you don't receive our e-mail alerts, you should. They are informative, fun, fast and have received critical acclaim. People tell us that when they read them, they feel as if they were in the committee room. Click here to sign up.) Several bills in The Family Foundation's bill profile were acted on recently. Here's an update:
This legislation, introduced by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), would have required abortion centers to become licensed, have life-saving equipment in their facilities and submit to one yearly inspection. It was drafted to make abortion centers safer for the women who visit them. In fact, the original bill had numerous regulations, many of which pro-abortion activists claim are onerous and designed put these centers out of business. Anticipating this argument, Senator Vogel stripped down the bill to the three simple requirements listed above.
The fact is that there are several types of medical facilities that are much less invassive, such as podiatry centers; and altogether different types of facilities, such as puppy mills, that have much tougher regulations. Furthermore, all medical disciplines and specialities have oversight by peer review boards, with the notable exception of abortionists.
Finally, the pro-abortion side traditionally argues that the Board of Medicine regulates Virginia's abortion clinics. Fine. Senator Vogel presented SJ 276, which the Senate passed unanimously last year, that slams the Board of Medicine, citing a 1999 JLARC report, that discovered "the Board of Medicine took too long to resolve cases, did not adequately protect the public from substandard practice by doctors, and did not handle medical malpractice cases adequately," among other charges. When confronted with its hypocrisy and the truth, the pro-abortion side did the only thing it could do — ignore it.
So, this bill, which seemed like a logical and bipartisan issue, failed in the Senate Education and Health Committee by a party line vote of 10-5. So much for "safe, legal and rare." Instead, in Virginia, abortion centers remain an exempted class, untouchable and protected by their overlords in the Senate. Read more about this issue here and see video of the Ed and Health hearing here.
SB 801: "Choose Life" License Plates (Support)
This legislation, from Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), not only would have created "Choose Life" license plates, but would have sent part of the proceeds from the plates to pregnancy resource centers around Virginia. The bill was debated in the Senate Transportation Committee. Of course, the opposition denounced the plates, claiming they are political in nature and out of the purview for recognition.
Even more infuriating, a family practitioner unashamedly attacked crisis pregnancy centers in her testimony. The bill died in committee by a vote of 6-6 with Senators Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) and John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian) abstaining. Senator Blevins was in the room up until just before the vote and then walked out — leaving a "proxy" vote of "abstain" behind.
HB 2579: Informed Consent, Ultrasound Requirement (Support)
Delegate Kathy Bryon's (R-22, Lynchburg) bill would require abortionists to take an ultrasound and allow the woman to view it if she desires before having an abortion. The Family Foundation supports this bill not only because it would give women medically accurate information to aid their decision making, but also with hopes that more women would choose life after clearly seeing that life inside them. The House Courts of Justice Committee reported this bill 15-6. It now goes to the House floor.
HB 2634: Providing Information on Fetal Pain
Another informed consent bill, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), would require that a woman be told that her unborn child could feel pain during the abortion process and provide her with information on anesthesia for the child. Again, the House Courts of Justice Committee passed this bill 17-5, and the House will vote on it this week. See some of the sub-committee debate here.
With homosexual rights advocates feeling emboldened by recent election victories, every effort has been made this legislative season to make sure that the term "sexual orientation" finds its way into Virginia code. It has been attempted in every form from group life insurance and housing discrimination, to making sure that it becomes a protected class under Virginia's human rights laws. Any incremental step they believe they can take, they will. Thankfully, we can report that all efforts to expand the homosexual agenda have failed thus far, with the exception of SB 945 (life insurance).
These battles are far from over and other skirmishes over other issues undoubtedly will materialize. If ever it was all to play for, this year's second half is it.
Here's a first. We've had Quotes of the Day, reported on odd bills and other unusual public and behind-the-scenes moments around the capitol and during the General Assembly over the last year. This was something different, however. I was in Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. Not that I had any business there, but it was the only place to corner a senator I needed to speak to on an important bill. (Tip of the Day: This is how you lobby legislators — you stake them out.)
One should always bring a newspaper or laptop to keep oneself occupied and/or amused during these situations because the legislation discussed can utterly bore you to sleep. (Not entirely bad when you're putting in 12-14 hour days.) On the other hand, these committee meetings where you have no bills to keep you interested sometimes pleasantly surprise you. Today was a case in point, where I witnessed our first ever Kumbayah Moment Of The Day.
Senator Louis Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth) introduced a bill that had something to do with special use ABC permits. Afraid her verbal demolition of a colleague's bill the previous day would hurt her bill's chances of clearing the committee, the flamboyant senator played meek. After introducing the bill and addressing the committee, she said:
"Senator Stuart, I apologize for what I said about your bill yesterday because I need your help now."
Replied Senator Richard Stuart (R-28, Montross):
"I never hold grudges. I like you too much to hold grudges."
The bill passed. Rest assured, though, this won't last — and the fireworks will return. Session is only three days old.
This past fall, as Virginians worried about the failing economy and state government announced massive revenue “shortfalls,” the Kaine administration tried to quietly introduce a new regulation that forbid state police chaplains from praying in the name of Jesus. Apparently the superintendent of the state police did this proactively, without any complaints from anyone “offended” that a chaplain had actually prayed to God.
Six of 17 chaplains resigned their positions as chaplains over this order. We were honored to have two of those chaplains at our Richmond Gala in November.
The superintendent and governor’s office alleged that the policy change is based on a recent 4th Circuit Court decision involving prayer at government meetings, specifically a case where a pastor in the Fredericksburg area was ordered to stop praying “in Jesus name” at city council meetings. The court concluded that allowing someone to publicly pray according to his beliefs at a government meeting was an "establishment of religion" because the prayer was "government speech."
Other circuit court rulings, however, are in direct conflict with the 4th Circuit, and many legal experts conclude that the state police decision is a misapplication of a flawed 4th Circuit Court ruling. In other words, this new policy never should have happened.
To remedy the Kaine administration’s decision, The Family Foundation will support legislation this year introduced by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Independence). Working with Alliance Defense Fund and its expert attorneys we believe that there is a legislative answer.
Next week, the 2009 General Assembly will begin. The Family Foundation is poised to bring our pro-God, pro-life, pro-family agenda to the center of the debate. We hope that you will be ready to take action when bills like this one protecting the religious liberty rights of chaplains are debated.
In many cases, as we reflect on what the wise men of centuries past would say or do about or in certain situations, it is at best conjecture, or no more than an educated guess. But not always. It always disturbs me how many liberals (many of them, unfortunately, judges on very high courts) write that the constitution is somehow a living guideline that adapts to current circumstances, and that it would be impossible to interpret how the Framers would apply it now. Oh, really? We have James Madison's extensive notes from the Constitutional Convention and, of course, The Federalist Papers, which were written by the Framers explicitly to explain how the constitution should be interpreted. There also are early Congressional debates and presidential veto messages concerning how the bills in question exceeded constitutional authority by the federal government. But the wisdom of all of these sources seemingly have evaporated from modern governing intelligence, zapped from the radar like an enemy war plane on the wrong end of an F-22 Raptor's Sidewinder Missile.
Along those lines, those who think morality cannot be legislated, we have this from George Washington who, lest we forget, was president of the Constitutional Convention and who never hesitated as our first president to promote, or sign bills promoting, morality:
If that's not enough to convince you:
It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.
The truth is, all legislation is a remedy to right some wrong or make some improvement in a society, which is the essence of morality, and which makes morality the foundation of civilization. That foundation is Biblically based — one would be hard pressed to prove our laws are not derivatives of the Ten Commandments. That being the case, where is morality most steeped and the best context to learn morality? Answer: Religion.
By George, Washington was right!