pro-life legislation

Hundreds Attend Virginia Stands For Life Rally, Send Huge Message To General Assembly! #VAStands4Life14

Hundreds of pro-life Virginians traveled across the commonwealth and braved cold temperatures to send the General Assembly a clear message: Virginians oppose the abhorrence of abortion and expect lawmakers to uphold the sanctity of life (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Keynote speaker Lila Rose vividly illustrated that message and the particularly heinous nature of abortion from her unique perspective as founder of Live Action, a new media pro-life investigative organization that goes undercover to expose the abortion industry's corruption and abuse. Ms. Rose founded Live Action at age 15 and has had Planned Parenthood on the run ever since. Later, she spoke to dozens of pastors at a Pastors For Family Values luncheon.

Joining her in speaking to the attendees were emcee Olivia Gans Turner of American Victims of Abortion; Susan Null, executive director of the Harrisonburg Pregnancy Center;  and Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb. The Reverend Bob Collins, founding pastor of World Outreach Worship Center, prayed the invocation. Afterward, attendees visited their delegates and senators to encourage them to support pro-life legislation, maintain the gains made the last three years, and oppose actions that would make abortion more available.

Hundreds of pro-life Virginians turned out today at Mr. Jefferson's capitol to support the sanctity of human Life. (Photo courtesy Richmond Times-Dispatch.)

Here is the official statement of the 14 partner organizations, including The Family Foundation, that hosted the 2014 Virginia Stands for Life Gathering (#VAStands4Life14):

This morning hundreds of pro-life Virginians came together to stand united in support of the sanctity of human life and to remind elected officials and the public that the pro-life movement in Virginia is thriving. The women and men at the event celebrated the 16 percent drop in Virginia's abortion rate over the past three years (a 22 percent drop among Virginia women), while hoping to encourage Virginia's elected officials to remain steadfast in their support of protective pro-life laws and legislation.

Several national and state pro-life organizations united together for today’s rally, bringing their supporters to Richmond to encourage reasonable and protective measures that seek to protect the lives of unborn children, the elderly and those with disabilities. With a new incoming administration, the organizers of today's peaceful event encouraged our elected officials to stand strong in the face of attempts to erode the significant recent pro-life gains that protect innocent unborn life and women.

All of the organizations and their constituents who were represented in this rally are committed to continuing to defend and advance the cause of unborn life, access to adoption, and the protection of human life. We will continue to voice the truth about the value of human life. As more Americans become pro-life every day, we are optimistic about the future for the unborn and the vulnerable in America and Virginia.   

Embedded image permalink

The Fab Four. Virginia's leading pro-life women, from left: Virginia Podboy of the Virginia Catholic Conference; Lila Rose of Live Action; TFF's Victoria Cobb; and Olivia Gans Turner of National Right To Life's American Victims of Abortion.

Our Message Vs. Their Message

It's no wonder Americans' attitudes toward abortion are changing. As a recent nationwide poll revealed, 53 percent of Americans oppose 99 percent of all abortions (see LifeNews.com). As the abortion industry and its radicalized supporters become more and more shrill and turn from persuasion to intimidation as their lies are found out, and as more and more states enact pro-life legislation, the contrast in messages is clear: Pro-life = love and caring for the most vulnerable among us. Pro-abortion = destruction, anger, vanity and selfishness. Could that be why they are terribly afraid of women seeing a simple video? Here's a classic example of the pro-life message. Someone needs to rerun this 30-year-old series, or create a new version of it:

Who's afraid of a short video? Life IS a beautiful choice! Now that the abortion lobby's misinformation has run its course and been found out, it has nothing to offer but vitriol. 

The ads may be old, but they are timeless. It summarizes the difference between the two visions. One affirms a culture of life and joy. The other, a culture of death and misery. Who can defend that? No one. The other side can't engage on the issue or the vision its ideology entails. So it resorts to attack and denigration. It's not very appealing. But, by definition, it's arguments cannot be appealing.  Life: What a beautiful choice, indeed. Even when we must endure the insults and hardships of the culture of death, Life is always worth it.

Watch What The Media Doesn't Want You To See . . .

Yesterday was the midpoint of the 2013 General Assembly session, and a lot has happened so far this year. Some of it you may have read about in the newspaper or seen on the news, but a lot you have not. For several years, in an effort to bring you the most comprehensive information about what happens at the General Assembly, we have videotaped key debates in both sub- and full committee meetings (see our YouTube channel). At a meeting of the Senate Education and Health Committee earlier in session, at least one capitol reporter seemed a bit put off by our efforts. As one of our staff members set up our camera in the committee room, in the same place we've set it up for several years, one senior reporter asked her for whom she worked. Upon hearing that she was with The Family Foundation, he chastised her saying, "You can’t do that here. You aren't credentialed press." A quick conversation with a Capitol Police officer made it clear to the reporter that committee hearings are public meetings and we can videotape them if we want.

So, it would appear that either the reporter had forgotten that our government's actions are open to the public or, perhaps, he's a bit intimidated by the fact that the media narrative is going to be challenged by the video showing exactly what happened, not how he and his colleagues describe it in in their "stories" and "articles." Of course, maybe he just didn't want his view blocked (though our camera was right next to a large post so we wouldn't block anyone's view).

Perhaps some of the issue is that our video exposes their media myths. In a Richmond Times-Dispatch article about the Ed and Health meeting — and specifically the debate over abortion center health and safety standards — one reporter wrote:

Both sides in the abortion debate packed the hearing room with advocates of the same arguments they've used to battle each other for the past two years.

Except, that's not at all accurate. As you will see watching the video, we used material from Department of Health inspection reports that show wide spread health and safety violations at Virginia's abortion centers — something the Times-Dispatch simply refuses to cover — material that was available just this past summer. It is new evidence we obtained from the department this past summer and last month via Freedom of Information Act requests and proves why we needed the health and safety standards. It is evidence we didn't have prior to the regulations, so we couldn't have used it "to battle each other for the past two years."

Even if we obstructed some reporters' views, we didn't affect their hearing, yet the media reported we offered no new information on the abortion center safety standards debate. It is clear we had new evidence of numerous violations not previously available to the public. (The new evidence is presented at about 5:50 into the video.)

We've said for the past year that there are some capitol reporters who have exchanged reporting for opining and, in particular, have driven some of the hysteria surrounding pro-life legislation. They've ignored or dismissed the facts about what's happening in Virginia's abortion centers, and they have little interest in balance.

Many journalists in Richmond still do great work and are fair, balanced and hard workers, while several clearly have allowed their bias to affect their work. All the more reason for our being here — years ago we accounted for the reasons the changing media landscape demanded we be here — and for you to watch the video and to share it with others.

21-20, 21-20, 21-20: Pro-Life Bills Finally Pass Virginia Senate Roadblock To Become Law; Behind The Scenes At Last Night's Drama!

Near the end of an already extraordinarily long annual "Veto Session" last night, at around 10:00, after intense debate and several failed parliamentary maneuvers by opponents, the Virginia General Assembly handed pro-lifers and Governor Bob McDonnell another big victory. After passing the House of Delegates by a comfortable margin, the Virginia Senate — whose committees long have been the burial ground for commonsense bipartisan pro-life legislation, deadlocked 20-20 on the governor's amendments to HB 2434 — to restrict Virginia's health insurance exchanges (when and if ObamaCare takes effect) from publicly funding abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother — allowing Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie and send the bill back to Governor McDonnell for his signature. We long have stated that if certain measures could get to the floor, they would pass. This victory, another vote last night to restore the abstinence education funding eliminated by former Governor Tim Kaine, as well as the landmark vote the last week of the regular session to regulate abortion centers (all by 21-20 margins with Lt. Governor Bolling casting the tie-breaking vote each time), vindicates us. As represented by their legislators in Richmond, Virginians are decidedly pro-life.

The hard work began as lawmakers returned to the capitol Monday. Family Foundation lobbyists hit the ground running, going door to door to sure up votes and answer questions from legislators. Preceding that were efforts well before the reconvened session to educate lawmakers and their constituents. While the House looked secure, the Senate was always going to be close, with perhaps one or two senators leaning one way or another, but not fully committed.

Meanwhile, opponents in both chambers used several procedural motions to derail the votes. House members yielded their time from member to member in an attempt to control the debate and even moved to break up the governor's amendments into separate votes. While that succeeded, all four passed. The bill then moved down the hall where Senator John Edwards (D-21) challenged the germaneness of the governor’s amendments. When Lt. Governor Bolling ruled them in order, opponents attempted to overturn the decision by a floor vote, but lost 21-19 (see vote).

After intense debate, the Senate voted 20-20, with all 18 Republicans and pro-life Democrats Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phillip Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) voting yes. Interestingly, Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), who voted to sustain Lt. Governor Bolling's ruling, voted no. When the clerk read the result, The LG decisively announced that "The chair votes aye." Thus, the making of a law (see vote).

Despite the late vote, an early morning event may have had the most impact — the first ever meeting of the Virginia Legislative Prayer Caucus (more on the LPC in a future post). More than 500 Virginians, including many delegates and senators of both parties, gathered at the steps of the historic capitol to pray for God to shower His blessings on our Commonwealth. As Governor McDonnell reminded attendees, Matthew 19:26 says, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

The Family Foundation gives its overwhelming appreciation to Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, all 20 Senators who voted for this pro-life amendment, and to all who contacted their senator to urge their support. If you don't think this has the grassroots excited, see our Facebook page!

Senate Kills Life Bills, Passes Threats To Family

If the past two days aren't evidence enough that the Virginia Senate must change, we honestly don't know what is. In a 48-hour period since Wednesday, the Senate, where Democrats hold a 22-18 majority, has passed several bills that undermine the values of Virginia while defeating common sense measures that would reduce the number of abortions and advance a culture of life. On Wednesday, it passed legislation adding sexual orientation to state government's non-discrimination law (SB 747), a bill that gives state government agencies the ability to provide domestic partner benefits (SB 1122), and a proposal that is an attack on Virginia's abstinence centered family life education policy (SB 967).

In yesterday's Senate Education and Health Committee, five pro-life bills were defeated, including legislation that would have provided women seeking an abortion an opportunity to view an ultrasound (SB 1435); created wrongful death protections for the unborn (SB 1207 and SB 1378); and criminalized the act of coercing someone to have an abortion (SB 1217). The committee also rejected a bill that would prohibit health insurance companies that provide elective abortion coverage from participating in the state-run exchanges required by President Obama's federal health insurance scheme (SB 1202).

As in past years, the Senate has proven to be a killing field for pro-family, pro-life legislation, as well as the source of bills that undermine Virginia's values. The question now becomes, are pro-family Virginians finally tired of this? If so, this November all 40 members of the Senate face re-election. Let's face it — having the truth and the facts on our side, having a professional team of advocates to influence legislators, having a grassroots network across Virginia simply isn't enough. We have to change the people who sit in that chamber.

This year is our opportunity to break through this barrier and change the future of Virginia. We need to add more conservative voices to the Senate. When it had a Republican majority in the past the outcome wasn't much better. We need principled conservatives in office. The Family Foundation and The Family Foundation Action will do everything possible to ensure that Virginians know exactly what the stakes are — and which candidates stand with us and which stand against us — as the elections approach. Please click here to learn more about our Ignite Campaign and how you can help.

Please also know that there are several members of the Senate (15) that voted with The Family Foundation on every one of the bills. We thank them for their stand on principle. We especially thank those Senators who carried pro-life legislation this year, including Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Ralph Smith (R-22, Botetourt) and Bill Stanley (R-19, Chatham).

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.

Thanking Senators And Delegates For Their Pro-Life Votes

Over the past several days many people have contacted us to find out how their elected officials voted on the pro-life budget amendment passed by the General Assembly during last month's veto session in order to thank them if they voted favorably. The amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of low-income elective abortions.  Despite deceptive efforts by the abortion industry and their advocates in the General Assembly, 64 delegates and 20 senators held firm and voted to protect the unborn. We are blessed that the House of Delegates regularly supports pro-life legislation, but sometimes, unfortunately, we may take that for granted. The Senate, on the other hand, is the chamber that is regularly hostile to pro-life legislation. So, when it does the right thing, it is very important to thank the senators who voted for life.

Below is the list of delegates and senators who voted yes. To see the complete recorded vote — those who voted yea and nay and not at all — click here for the House and here for the Senate.

House:

YEAS: Abbitt, Albo, Anderson, Athey, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bulova, Byron, Carrico, Cleaveland, Cline, Cole, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, J.A., Cox, M.K., Crockett-Stark, Edmunds, Garrett, Gear, Gilbert, Greason, Griffith, Hugo, Iaquinto, Ingram, Janis, Johnson, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LeMunyon, Lewis, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Massie, May, Merricks, Miller, J.H., Miller, P.J., Morefield, Morrissey, Nutter, O'Bannon, Oder, Orrock, Peace, Phillips, Pogge, Poindexter, Pollard, Purkey, Rust, Scott, E.T., Sherwood, Stolle, Tata, Torian, Villanueva, Ware, R.L., Wright, Mr. Speaker (Howell, W.)—64.

NAYS: Abbott, Alexander, Armstrong, BaCote, Barlow, Brink, Carr, Dance, Ebbin, Englin, Filler-Corn, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., James, Joannou, Keam, Kory, McClellan, Plum, Scott, J.M., Shuler, Sickles, Spruill, Surovell, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Ware, O., Watts—30.

ABSTENTIONS: Marshall, R.G.—1.

NOT VOTING: Lohr, McQuinn, Morgan, Putney—4.

Senate:

YEAS: Blevins, Colgan, Hanger, Hurt, Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Norment, Obenshain, Puckett, Quayle, Reynolds, Ruff, Smith, Stosch, Stuart, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins—20.

NAYS: Barker, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Northam, Petersen, Puller, Saslaw, Ticer, Whipple—19.

NOT VOTING: Newman—1.

To thank your delegate or senator (or both), click here for the House and here for the Senate to see the respective chambers' directories. Scroll for your legislator(s), click on their names, and access their e-mail or office addresses. We hope you will take the time to make these two clicks and type a few sentences of gratitude to these hard working men and women for making possible, despite a great amount of pressure, Virginia's most important pro-life advancement in in years.

If your delegagte or senator voted no, we recommend you write a respectful note expressing your grave disappointment in their vote to allow your tax dollars to be used to end unborn human life, and that he or she please re-examine the issue for next session. Finally, if you do not know who your senator or delegate is, click here first.

Another Year In The Committee Of Death

The Senate Education and Health Committee richly deserves its "Committee of Death" moniker — it has been the graveyard for pro-life legislation for most of the decade. No pro-life bill has survived this committee regardless of its simplicity or common sense. As usual, a valuable bill that would have improved the safety regulations of the Commonwealth’s abortion centers was defeated there yesterday on a vote of 11-4 — a party line vote, with the exception of Senator Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), who voted against the bill as he did last year. Patroned by Delegate Matt Lohr (R-26, Harrisonburg), HB 393 would require that these unregulated surgical facilities that perform abortions to be inspected, have emergency life-saving equipment, and be overseen by a state regulatory agency just as any other outpatient surgical center. This legislation has long been a pro-life priority. Delegate Lohr eloquently pointed out to the committee the disparity between how these unregulated surgical abortion centers are treated compared to other medical facilities. As inexplicable as it is, 11 members of the committee believe that incredibly less invasive procedures such as lasik surgery, blood donation, face lifts, colonoscopies and oral surgery should be held to higher standards than abortion procedures.

Perhaps most alarming was Dr. Wendy Klein, from the VCU School of Medicine, who claimed, "Abortion is the safest medical procedure you can have!" The opposition to HB 393 cited the National Abortion Federation, an association that oversees seven abortion centers in Virginia, as a reliable self-regulatory organization. However, as I clarified in my testimony, this is far from reassuring. For example, NAF requires only a midlevel clinician (not necessarily a physician) to perform an abortion procedure. Fortunately, Virginia Code protects against this, but clearly NAF guidelines, as exemplified in this one standard, cannot be assumed sufficient!

Countering these arguments, in addition to Delegate Lohr and The Family Foundation, were a number of organizations that clearly outnumbered the pro-abortion forces, including representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, Virginia Society For Human Life and the Virginia Catholic Conference.

Dr. Klein was at it again on HB 334, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas). This bill, also defeated yesterday on the exact same 11-4 vote, would bolster Virginia's informed consent law by making available to women seeking abortions statistics that show the difficulties of future pregnancies and births to women who previously had abortions (as much as eight times higher). She said that bill presumes women can't figure out things for themselves. So, she admits there are risks!

Even more shocking was Senator Dick Saslaw's (D-35, Springfield) response to the citation of the House of Delegates vote on this bill (95-2). He said a member told him it got that many votes because many who voted for it knew "we'd kill it over here." Aside from the crass cynicism and joy he seemed to take in those seemingly vindictive words, if Senator Saslaw is correct, it shows that an overwhelmingly large amount of Virginians favor this type of legislation and that their representatives are afraid to vote against their constituents' interests. The pro-abortion crowd can't have it both ways.

While it is difficult to stand before this committee year in and year out with such reasonable legislation only to see it killed, we appreciate the legislators who are willing to continue to force lawmakers to go on record opposing this legislation. The Family Foundation remains committed to fighting for pro-life and pro-family issues.

Statement From The Virginia Society For Human Life On The 4th Circuit’s Upholding Of Virginia’s Partial Birth Abortion Ban

OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE VIRGINIA SOCIETY FOR HUMAN LIFE ON THE RULING BY THE 4TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS UPHOLDING VIRGINIA'S LAW BANNING PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION

The Virginia Society for Human Life applauds the decision of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals today which upheld by a vote of 6 to 5 Virginia's Partial Birth Infanticide Ban. This vital piece of pro-life legislation protects the lives of unborn children from the gruesome procedure known as "partial birth abortion." During such an abortion a living late term unborn baby is partially removed from his/her mother's womb and the skull is punctured allowing the baby's brains to be sucked out.

The procedure also puts the baby's mother at grave risk of future complications both physical and psychological. It is a clear victory for the lives of babies and their mothers in Virginia that the Court has upheld this reasonable and important law.

"There is no doubt that the Virginia's Partial Birth Abortion Infanticide Ban will save the lives of hundreds of Virginia babies from this horrible and violent procedure. The mothers of these children deserve medical care that respect and protect their lives as well, rather then subject them to the dangers of abortion. Partial birth abortion is a deadly act that the people of Virginia have rightly rejected through the General Assembly and the Court was correct to uphold this important law," said Olivia Gans, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life.

VSHL is very grateful for the leadership of the office Attorney General of Virginia, in particular Mr. Bob McDonnell for successfully guiding this issue through the courts during his term of office.

Virginia News Stand: February 20, 2009

We're glad to bring the News Stand back to you today. (Translation: It's a slow day at the GA.) But looky here — it seems we just can't stay out of the news. Two of our major initiatives lead the News Stand: Pro-life legislation, predictably killed in the "Committee of Death" Thursday, and the ongoing chaplain prayer controversy. That bill now will be heard Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, or so we're led to believe. Abortion bills voted down in Senate committee (Lynchburg News & Advance) 

What Would Jefferson Do? Prayer Bill Roils Richmond (Washington Post

GOP Rift Over Howell Worsens (Washington Post

State funding for public TV, radio on chopping block (Charlottesville Daily Progress

States prepare to combat stimulus strings (Washington Times)

GOP hopefuls debate for top prosecutor (Roanoke Times)   

Republican candidates for Virginia's Attorney General debate in Roanoke (WSLS-TV)

Freedom Of Choice Act Involves Neither Freedom Or Choice

The so-called Freedom of Choice Act again is before Congress. This dangerous legislation, called FOCA, would eliminate hundreds of pro-life laws and policies in every state as well as those in federal law. (Read the bills' summaries and status, sponsors, and other information, by clicking the bill numbers: The Senate bill number is S. 1173; the House bill number is H.R. 1964).

By imposing federal oversight on the states, this legislation would take away your rights to influence your state lawmakers to pass pro-life legislation by making Congress the only and ultimate authority on these critical issues. Hence, the Orwellian misnomer: It neither guarantees freedom or choice. Most assuredly, it limits representative democracy. This again reveals the shaky ground radical pro-abortion forces are on: If Americans overwhelmingly favor abortion on demand, as they claim, why are they afraid of letting citizen legislators and state electorates make those decisions? What's next, Congress deciding what doctors we can visit? (On second thought, don't ask.) 

We highly encourage you to contact your U.S. Representative (click here for list) and Virginia's two U.S. Senators (Jim Webb, here, and John Warner, here) and urge them to defeat these bills. The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment has a good briefing sheet on the bills (click here). Because of the seriousness of this threat to innocent life and our freedoms — for example, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls it "a grave concern" — please forward the information on this blog to as many pro-lifers as you can.

Many thanks to the Virginia Catholic Conference for its work in alerting thousands of Virginians to the dangers to these bills.