Life

Answered Prayer In Major Abortion Lawsuit

Last night, federal district court Judge Henry E. Hudson released his highly-anticipated 67-page opinion in the abortion industry’s challenge to virtually all of Virginia’s pro-life laws, Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver. (For a recap of the two-week trial earlier this summer, read our blog here.)  In a huge answer to prayer, the decision is a near-total repudiation of the abortion industry's baseless claims and a huge victory for the rule of law and Virginia's common-sense measures to protect women's health, safety, and ensure their fully-informed consent before making an irreversible decision to end the life of their unborn child.

The Court upheld nearly every one of the health and safety standards for inspections in abortion centers, as well as the hospital requirement for surgical and post-viability 2nd-trimester and all 3rd-trimester abortions, the requirement that only a physician may perform the procedure, and all of Virginia's informed consent law, which includes the opportunity to view an ultrasound image and a mandatory 24-hour wait period after the ultrasound and prior to an abortion.

Your faithful prayers have been answered! And the hard-fought pro-life victories of over 40 years in Virginia have nearly all been affirmed by this opinion. This outcome is especially noteworthy because it comes in spite of the fact that our own Attorney General Mark Herring, the abortion industry's greatest ally, again refused to defend our laws, but instead opted to hire outside counsel who proved throughout the litigation all too willing to cede critical issues without a fight. 

While the opinion was an overall win, especially considering the number and nature of the laws that were challenged, we are very disappointed that the Court chose to grant abortion facilities the ability now to perform “pre-viability” 2nd-trimester abortions, instead of the far safer and more accountable hospital setting the statute required for any abortion past the first trimester. The Court reasoned that, since just two Virginia facilities routinely perform 2nd-trimester abortions, not allowing abortion facilities to do them is “unduly burdensome” – even though no evidence was ever presented to indicate that any woman in Virginia had any difficulty accessing those facilities.  

Not only will this virtually guarantee more unborn lives will be lost, and more money will flow to the billion-dollar abortion industry, but it presumably leaves it up to profit-driven abortionists to determine when a child is considered "viable" or not. Given that our own Governor – who ultimately oversees the Department of Health – unashamedly maintains that babies who are viable enough to survive an attempted 2nd-trimester abortion should simply be left on a table to die, how in the world could anyone trust Planned Parenthood to restrain themselves from killing viable babies in the 2nd trimester?

While it is true that most abortions take place during the first trimester of pregnancy, we fear this opens the door for later abortions to become more common. Yet as a practical matter, we were already aware that some of these facilities have begun doing 2nd-trimester abortions after Attorney General Herring recently signaled to the abortion centers that they could perform 2nd-trimester abortions without fear of prosecution from his office. The one other unfortunate part of the opinion eliminates certain requirements for design and construction standards, such as halls wide enough to carry a stretcher though, for abortion facilities performing first-trimester abortions, despite the demonstrated need for many of these requirements in a medical setting. At the same time, the Board of Health has already provided variances for this requirement to every facility that has requested it since the regulations took effect in 2011, so there is effectively no change.

We don't yet know whether the abortion industry will appeal the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, so we will continue to monitor the situation. Meanwhile, we praise God for many answered prayers, and for the many continued protections for unborn lives and their mothers. 

What Does South Bend and Virginia Have in Common?

This weekend we were horrified to hear about the remains of over 2,000 aborted babies discovered at the Illinois home of abortionist Ulrich Klopfer who died earlier this month.  This gruesome discovery reminds us of the darkness that pervades this life-ending industry whose champions include people like Kermit Gosnell who operated a horrifying abortion facility and also collected aborted babies as trophies.

The Illinois and Indiana Attorneys General, as well as federal authorities, have launched what we hope will be a thorough investigation into the recent discovery of these remains, as well as Klopfer’s South Bend, Indiana abortion practice.

It’s the Gosnells and Klopfers of the world that Virginia pro-life legislators have specifically sought to prevent with necessary health and safety laws and regulations, which protect women who make this unfortunate decision and save some lives in the process.  It's why The Family Foundation vigorously defended important health and safety regulations in court against the Board of Health which sought to eliminate necessary requirements and oversite.  And it’s these very laws and regulations that Planned Parenthood and their cohorts are seeking to have overturned in Whole Women’s Health v. Oliver, in which a decision by Judge Hudson is expected to be handed down any day.

What’s interesting is that after Klopfer’s South Bend facility was shut down for violating health and safety regulations, abortion advocates blamed so-called “TRAP laws,” which they say impose overly burdensome standards, administrative requirements, and basic health codes, for the closing.  These are the same arguments that have been made in Whole Women’s Health v. Oliver.  Ironically, Whole Women’s Health recently opened an abortion center in South Bend – without having to comply with state licensing requirements due to a court injunction.

This news has national implications, but in a strange twist there is a unique connection to the Whole Women’s Health federal case and the upcoming Virginia elections this fall.

Democratic presidential hopeful and Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, who recently stated that abortion is permissible until the baby breathes his or her first breathe, has been an ardent supporter of a Whole Women’s Health clinic that began operating in South Bend.  But not only is he an ardent supporter, he personally tried to ensure their monopoly on vulnerable women by vetoing a rezoning request to allow a pregnancy resource center to operate next door to the abortion center.  The pregnancy resource center eventually secured a properly zoned location directly across the street from the abortion center to offer support for women facing crisis pregnancies.

Now Buttigieg is being embraced by some pro-abortion legislators during campaign stops in Northern Virginia.

But it should be of no real surprise that pro-abortion Virginia legislators would embrace Buttigieg and his radical pro-abortion stance, since they perfectly align with the abortion-up-to-birth for any reason bill introduced this year by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) and Governor Northam’s comments defending infanticide.

Last week Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) said that “the work of a lifetime is the work of two afternoons” if the majority changes hands in November.  Pro-abortion liberals are poised to usher in “Buttigieg-Tran-Northam” abortion values that will diminish the sanctity of life, threaten the lives of the women, and lead to another Gosnell or Klopfer if they gain control of the General Assembly this November 5th.

Please join us in doing whatever you can to make sure that doesn’t happen!

Board of Health delays action on Abortion health and safety standards ... For Now!

Today the Virginia Board of Health decided to delay the process of watering down abortion center health and safety standards until its December meeting, in front of a noteworthy pro-abortion crowd.  This decision comes several months after The Family Foundation won an important case to undo the illegal regulatory changes made to the standards during Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Despite the large pro-abortion crowd in attendance, and heavy police presence, the Board delayed action pending a decision in the Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver case recently heard in Federal District Court in May/June.

Our staff was at the meeting to speak on behalf of the women who are at severe risk if these regulations are overturned and the thousands of unborn lives tragically ended through abortion.

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While the Board deferred a vote on its proposed changesthe proposed regulations make dramatic alterations to all 38 regulatory sections of the chapter governing abortion facilities.  In fact, they go even further to prevent important and basic oversight of abortion facilities.  The proposed regulations elevate administrative convenience and profit above the health and safety of women seeking an abortion by replacing commonsense health and safety requirements with loosened standards that essentially free abortion providers from any accountability.

For several years, we’ve seen at least a thousand regulatory violations from inspection reports conducted in abortion facilities across Virginia. They have lifted the veil on just how careless, unsanitary and inhumane this industry truly is which endangers the lives of so many women.  One example is the Virginia Health Group, which was so bad that even Gov. McAuliffe's own Health Commissioner shut it down within hours of an inspection of the facility that was triggered by a patient complaint.  As you can see, these regulations help ensure some accountability by revealing the pervasive darkness of an industry that has proven to care more about profiting off of the vulnerably of women facing difficult life decisions.

At the very least, the women making such a terrible – often desperate or coerced - choice should be in a facility that meets basic safety standards, but the $1 billion abortion industry opposes even minimum infection prevention standards, inspection of equipment, and even record-keeping requirement.

We will continue to monitor the Board’s actions and expose how they do nothing but allow the abortion industry to continue to line their pockets with blood money from vulnerable women.

It’s Women’s Equality Day…Because Women Already ARE Equal!

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment. On August 26, 1920, the Secretary of State certified the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. It was an important moment in United States history that ensured women along with men had a voice in our democratic process.

In honor of “Women’s Equality Day,” Governor Northam illuminated the Governor’s mansion over the weekend with purple, gold and white lights.

VAratifyERA held a small rally yesterday on the steps of the Virginia Capital, followed by a “party” at the Governor’s mansion, to celebrate “Women’s Equality Day” and to officially kick-off their 2020 campaign to ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The Left is determined more than ever to make Virginia the 38th state to approve the ERA after failing ratification by one vote in the Virginia House of Representatives this year.  Last year, Illinois became the 37th state to formally approve the ERA, leaving ratification of the amendment and recognition under the U.S. Constitution only one state shy of the 38 needed.

The Family Foundation has long argued that ratification of the ERA is a moot issue because it failed to receive approval by the requisite number of states by the 1982 deadline, as ruled in the case NOW, Inc. v. Idaho.  Not only that, but the ERA is also a moot issue simply because in our current culture it is not needed.

While there are certainly women who experience inequitable treatment, these situations are nearly always instances where the culture needs to align with the law, not reasons to add more laws.  If properly brought to court under the dozens of laws, their situation should be rectified. It is unfortunate our society still devalues women in so many ways but Virginia laws do not.  In fact, most states like Virginia already have laws in place to address some of the real or perceived disparities between men and women, such as equal pay for equal work.

So, if basically everyone agrees that women and men should be, and are, equals under the law, you might ask why not just go ahead and pass the ERA, which simply states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”?

That’s because a closer examination of the ERA makes it clear that it has less to do with equality and more to do with making men and women the same, as well as enshrining abortion into the U.S. Constitution.  The reality is the ERA is a Trojan Horse intended to advance radical Left-wing objectives such as unrestricted taxpayer-funding of abortion and special legal rights based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”  Moreover, the language in ERA sets up the ability for liberal judges to interpret the term "sex" to mean something other than biological male and female, as numerous federal courts have recently begun to do with statutes with that term, resulting in special legal rights to people on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The direct effect of this has been to trample on religious liberty and conscience protections.

For more examples of the destructive outcomes of the ERA should it ever be ratified, read our blog here.

Groups like VAratifyERA are masking their effort to enshrine abortion into the Constitution and redefine the term “sex” into whatever satisfies their ideological hunger with a deceptive statement that seems innocent and reasonable.  Don’t be fooled or swayed by their tactics.

We don’t need a constitutional amendment to affirm something that is already true – that women are equal and deserving of all the rights and privileges under the Constitution of the United States.

The NEA Finally Admitted It!

Last month the National Education Association (NEA) adopted Business Item 56 that makes official its support for abortion – something we have suspected for years.  Once again, the NEA, and by extension the Virginia Education Association (VEA), have shown us that they are less about education and more about advancing an ideologically liberal agenda. This has become abundantly clear in their VEA fund endorsements made earlier this year, a list where you won’t find a single pro-life candidate.

Business Item 56 states the following:

“Furthermore, the NEA will include an assertion of our defense of a person's right to control their own body, especially for women, youth, and sexually marginalized people. The NEA vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.”

On average, a public school teacher pays the NEA $192 in annual dues.  In return teachers are able to take advantage of benefits like shopping discounts, life insurance plans, and student loan forgiveness programs.  The NEA, despite their best efforts to convince us otherwise, uses the dues to pay for political activities that often conflict with a teacher’s personal convictions.  Now with the adoption of Business Item 56, the NEA will use a percentage of teachers’ dues to fund its political activities to specifically promote abortion.

The NEA, the largest teachers’ union in the United States with 2.2 million members, says its mission is to “advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”  Clearly their adoption of an organizational policy supporting Roe v. Wade and the abortion industry is inconsistent with its stated mission and elevates a liberal ideology above the interests of its members.  The position expressed by the NEA will be in direct conflict with the values and principles that many teachers hold regarding the sanctity of life.

But there are several alternatives to the NEA without the political agenda.  That’s right, a public school teacher doesn’t have to join the NEA to receive helpful benefits and be part of a network of likeminded teachers dedicated to teaching our youth.

Instead public school teachers should consider joining one of the following groups:

1.    American Association of Educators (AAE) - AAE is a non-profit professional association that serves thousands of teachers across the country.  They describe themselves as a “national, non-union, professional educators' organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation” that seeks to promote professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda.” (Emphasis added.) 

As a member of AAE, a teacher will receive many of the same benefits that the NEA “promises,” including liability insurance, shopping discounts, scholarships, grants, and legal services, but with a lower annual membership fee.

2.    Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) – A teacher interested in being part of a Christian-based organization should consider CEAI, which offers many of the same benefits but with a missional component.  In addition to membership benefits such as legal services, insurance and store discounts, CEAI provides a ministry to equip teachers to be “missional educational leaders.”

3.    Virginia Professional Educators - VPE is a nonprofit professional group for Virginia teachers that also provides many of the same benefits the VEA offers, but at a lower cost and without the “partisan politics and controversial social agendas of teacher unions.”  VPE is a growing professional group for teachers with several thousand members.

It’s time to dismantle the illusion that the only professional group for teachers is the NEA.  Teachers should be made aware that there are other groups that offer professional development without the stress of being connected to political positions that may conflict with their personal beliefs.

Changing Hearts and Minds About Abortion

A majority of Americans are decidedly not “pro-choice.”  This is according to a recent Gallup poll  in which 49% of respondents reported that they consider themselves pro-life, compared to 46% who identify as “pro-choice.”  This marks the first time since 2013 that a majority of survey respondents in a major poll identify as pro-life.

The notable shift in polling shows that hearts and minds can be and are being changed, which is arguably more important than any law we could pass.  You see, we don’t have to wait until the legislature passes laws that limit abortions or until Roe v. Wade is overturned in order to end this scourge on our society, though we should still work diligently to make those happen.  We can actually have an immediate impact in our communities by changing the hearts and minds of people on this issue.

That being said, public opinion on abortion has no doubt had a significant impact on abortion policies across the country, resulting in a flurry of laws aimed at either curbing abortion or expanding it.

The ideological Left and abortion advocates nationwide are going crazy over new laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri that establish important restrictions on abortion in those states.  So much so, that they are passing their own radical abortion-on-demand bills in states like Illinois and New York that will allow abortion for any reason up until the moment of birth.

The issue of abortion has become so heated of late that in response to Georgia’s “Heartbeat Bill”, Hollywood is actually boycotting the state.  Hollywood elites and abortion proponents seem to be concerned about the strong possibility that a case will come before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges its current Roe v. Wade precedence, especially as the makeup of the Court is trending more and more strict constructionist.

Last month we concluded our “No Pink Lights Over Richmond Tour” around the Commonwealth in which we discussed legislation concerning the sanctity of life.  We were encouraged to receive positive feedback and great participation.  During the Q&A Session following one of the presentations, a participant asked what our thoughts were on the recent heartbeat legislation being pushed in other states and whether we could expect something like that here in Virginia.  Given what transpired in Virginia this year, it would not be surprising to see “Heartbeat” legislation introduced next year.  But let’s more fully unpack the context of the heartbeat legislation.

In an attempt to start the process of challenging Roe v. Wade, Alabama passed a law that makes it a felony to perform an abortion except in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, effectively eliminating the practice of abortion in the state.  Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law on May 15, 2019 and issued the following statement:

"No matter one's personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable.  As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions.  Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973.  The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur."

The Alabama law sets in motion what will inevitably become a contentious and long legal battle that will take years to traverse the court system.  Only time will tell if the case ever makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Regardless, this law was clearly a bold move to return the issue of abortion back to the states by forcing the Supreme Court to finally reconsider (and overturn) the landmark 1973 decision.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced the “Abortion is Not Health Care Act”, which could disincentivize some abortions by disallowing taxpayers from deducting abortion costs from their taxable income.  Under Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code, abortion expenses paid during the taxable year that were not covered by insurance, by the taxpayer, his/her spouse, or a dependent may be deducted from income if they exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income.

These legislative actions represent two important approaches to policy-making with slightly different intended purposes.  The first approach, which is the primary purpose of the Alabama law, is to impose certain restrictions on abortion that would trigger a legal challenge that is intended to reach the Supreme Court.  The second approach is a pragmatic form of policy-making meant to restrict, defund, and limit abortions.  While the later approach doesn’t strike at the heart of the abortion issue like the Alabama law, it is extremely valuable for keeping an abortion industry that desperately wants conduct its activities uninhibited in check. 

For example, the legislature in Virginia has incrementally imposed vital protections for mothers, such as informed consent, 24 hour waiting periods, requirements that second trimester abortions to be performed in hospitals, and ultrasound requirements, to name a few.  These pragmatic laws force abortion providers to follow strict rules so as to at least ensure the safety and informed consent of vulnerable women considering such a consequential decision.  For the abortion industry, however, they are seen as an impediment to more profit.  These achievements didn’t happen overnight, and they could easily be eliminated if legislation like Delegate Kathy Tran’s bill (HB 2491) is ever passed. 

We know these vital protections and safety standards work because they were vigorously challenged by the abortion industry in Falls Church Women’s Center v. Oliver.  For a summary of this case and what happened during the bench trial, you can read our blog posts “Falls Church v. Oliver", "The Plaintiffs Rest",  "Defense Makes Its Case", and “Case Closed”.

The reality is that until the Supreme Court is filled with the right-minded judicial philosophy necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade precedence, we must continue to share our hearts for the unborn and exercise compassion for mothers struggling with this decision.That’s where the greatest change is going to happen.

Case Closed. Decision Still to Come.

Yesterday, abortion industry and the private counsel hired to defend Virginia’s laws made their closing arguments in federal district court in Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver, wrapping up a grueling two-week trial in which nearly all our state’s pro-life laws hang in the balance. My team and I, including our five new summer interns, were in the courtroom to witness every word.  

After failing year after year to pass legislation to achieve their ultimate goal of unfettered access to taxpayer-funded abortions performed by anyone in facilities with no oversight up until the moment of birth, the abortion industry turned to the courts – targeting Virginia to be its precedent-setting case in that goal. For a quick refresher on the overall case and some of what happened before and during the trial, be sure to look back at our blog posts. (“Surprise Miracle”, “Falls Church v. Oliver”, “The Plaintiffs Rest” and “Defense Makes Its Case”)

In yesterday’s closing statement, the lawyer for Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Whole Women’s Health gave frankly an overstated, over-confident, and oversimplified summary of the facts in this case and how the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents supposedly require the judge to totally throw out all of the following Virginia laws (some on the books since 1975):

-       “Window to the Womb" ultrasound law providing a woman the opportunity to view her ultrasound and hear the fetal heart tone if she wishes

-       Abortion informed consent materials

-       A 24-hour wait period after the ultrasound and prior to an abortion

-       All abortion center health and safety regulations

-       The requirement for 2nd trimester abortions to be done in hospitals, and

-       The requirement for having actual physicians perform the abortion procedure

Despite how reasonable these safeguards are for ensuring the health, safety, and informed consent of vulnerable women facing this permanent – and often conflicted – decision, the abortion industry has proven its willingness to sacrifice anything, and anyone, for the sake of money and power. It's quite revealing that the same industry that purports to be about women's health is doing everything it can to strip away things like health and safety standards, informed consent, and requirements that medical doctors be the ones to perform an invasive surgery. We pray that Judge Hudson sees right through the hollow (yet slick) legal arguments of the Plaintiffs. If his questions from the bench were any signal, we sense that on most of the issues involved, he does.

The attorney defending our laws kept her closing much more direct, succinct, and generally had solid legal arguments. The Defense’s closing highlighted the evidence throughout the trial, even brought forward by some of the Plaintiffs’ witnesses, that safety standards have greatly improved the facilities doing the invasive surgery of abortion, that ultrasound is a critical element of the abortion procedure, and that physicians are uniquely qualified to perform all types of abortion and deal with all potential complications.

Significantly, the Defense pointed out that the Plaintiffs did not put forward even a single Virginia woman of child-bearing age who could demonstrate any burden whatsoever in her ability to obtain an abortion as a result of these laws. “If there were such a woman,” said the Defense attorney, “surely the Plaintiffs, who perform abortions all across the Commonwealth every single day, would be able to provide one.” But they couldn’t. That is more than a little problematic for the Plaintiffs when the legal standard they must demonstrate is an “undue burden” on an actual woman pursuing abortion.

While some important points were omitted from her closing and several points were conceded unnecessarily (this was the Attorney General’s hired counsel, mind you), the attorney definitely put forward a laudable and even compelling defense of the laws. And that was encouraging.  

Now that the trial is over and all the documents and evidence are in, we are left only to pray for Judge Hudson’s wise discernment, his respect for our laws and the Constitution, and that he has a true appreciation for the gravity of his decision in terms of its impact on the lives and health of women, unborn children, federalism and the rule of law. Please join us in that prayer over the next several weeks.

Whatever the outcome of this case, The Family Foundation will remain ever-vigilant on behalf of Virginia families for the protection and promotion of every human life, and especially those most vulnerable among us. As soon as we learn of a decision in this case, we’ll let you know.

Abortion Trial: Defense Makes Its Case

This week, the Commonwealth is making its defense of Virginia’s common-sense pro-life laws under siege from the abortion industry in federal court in the high-stakes case of Falls Church Medical Center, LLC v. Oliver.  Today marked the end of Day 2 of the Defense’s case, as so far six expert witnesses have taken the stand.

Yesterday, four separate respected and long-time employees of the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC) (all of whom, it should be noted, serve within the administration of pro-infanticide Ralph Northam, and all of whom served under former Governor Terry McAuliffe) hammered home their belief that the health and safety standards for abortion facilities through regulations first initiated in 2012 are reasonable, helpful, and clearly necessary for patient safety and care.

The witnesses included two experienced inspectors of the abortion facilities since 2012 who have personally witnessed and cited many of the 500+ horrific abortion facility violations, including those of the former Virginia Health Group in Fairfax, whose license was immediately and indefinitely suspended in April 2016 by Gov. McAuliffe’s own Commissioner of Health after a 70-page inspection report revealed violations so gut-wrenching that it was deemed to be an immediate danger to patient safety.

When the witness inspector recounted first entering that facility for an inspection that was triggered by a patient complaint, she described how “When we walked in, the things that we observed were very concerning to us.” She described a dirty patient waiting area, with furniture that was all stained and in disrepair, “filthy” carpets, and holes and graffiti on the walls. “And that was just the waiting area,” she remarked.

Other violations included dirty, unsanitized equipment, dried blood on surfaces, dust and debris on machines, stopped up toilets (where a nurse walked out into the hall with a plunger in her hands and then immediately went to begin a procedure without washing her hands), boxes of patient files stacked in the patient bathroom, poor infection control procedures, unmarked syringes laid on dirty desks and contaminated from one surface to another, and general failure of employees to wash hands before or after procedures. At one point, the physician, without washing his hands, put on gloves to perform a procedure, then came back to his office, took off the gloves, and immediately reached into a box of donuts with his unwashed hands. (And this is just what they do when the state inspectors are watching!)

One of the patient records that had been randomly pulled for auditing purposes showed that the patient had to be rushed to the emergency room because the physician had caused a laceration of her cervix while performing an abortion. The facility did not even have sutures on the premises to help stop the bleeding! This was just one abortion facility, on one occasion. But it really drove home the point about why regulatory oversight of these facilities is so critical. It really blew wide open the Plaintiffs’ attempt to claim that all of these health and safety oversight policies are burdensome and unnecessary.

Day Two of the Defense’s case showcased a Board Certified OBGYN, who laid out the strong case for why a 24-hour wait period prior to an abortion, a required ultrasound and informed consent procedures, and the limitation on performing abortions to physicians only are all well-justified laws for securing patient safety, care, and medical best practices. She also explained the serious potential complications of abortions at various stages of development, and why it was so important that later-term abortions be performed only in a hospital setting rather than a typical abortion facility patient room. The Plaintiiffs’ lawyer did everything she could to discredit her by targeting her Christian faith and life-affirming personal beliefs, including her associations with a CareNet pregnancy resource center, where she serves as the volunteer Medical Director, having performed over 1000 free ultrasounds in the past three years alone. They also took issue with her membership in AAPLOG (American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Sad, but not surprising.

Finally, an economist discredited the abortion industry’s expert testimonies which attempted to imply that these laws had somehow caused an undue burden on some Virginia women seeking abortions. The economist analyzed their testimonies and clearly showed how they had not shown any causal link between the laws and women’s ability to access abortion facilities, which is their burden to prove in this case, and the central issue in the case.

On Thursday, the Defense will wrap up it’s case, and the Plaintiff’s will bring in a few rebuttal witnesses on Friday. Then it’s on to closing arguments. Judge Hudson seems to be asking all the right questions throughout the trial, which indicates that he really gets what’s going on. Overall, I’d say the Defense has really, as they say, shown up ready to fight. And, well, that is much more than we expected. There is much reason for optimism, but cautious optimism to be sure.    

The Plaintiffs' Rest

Earlier this week, we told you how the abortion industry’s lawsuit challenging all of Virginia’s pro-life laws kicked off in what has been scheduled for a 2-week trial in federal court. The Plaintiffs continued their lineup of “expert” witnesses, including staff from Planned Parenthood and Whole Women’s Health.  Again, the plaintiffs and their witnesses spent much of the time avoiding anything that might reveal to the Judge or the media present in the courtroom that a human being was in the womb whose life is taken when these abortions occur.  Terms like “voluntary pregnancy interruption” replaced abortion in some exchanges.  Interruption usually implies something will resume later, except, apparently in this usage of the word.

Courtroom exchanges also revealed that the Hampton abortion clinic has no doctor on site and performs chemical abortions by telemedicine.  As described, a doctor advises a nurse by video conferencing, who then administers the abortion pill.  While we’ve known that there is no doctor practicing at this abortion facility, it was unknown how they were administering chemical abortions.  It has seemed that in the past, legislators have been under the impression that abortion was not happening by telemedicine, despite our concerns. 

Witnesses on the stand included the both Medical Director and CEO of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and the founder of Whole Women’s Health, LLC.  Each of these individuals testified that routine biennial inspections are burdensome and unhelpful.  Thankfully, after much advocacy for no oversight, Judge Hudson asked the abortion staff in a very perplexed manner, “You’re not saying you want no oversight, right?” to which the abortion industry response was that they would still be governed by OSHA and CLIA.  OSHA regulations are designed simply to protect any business’ employees from safety risks, like construction site falls, etc.  CLIA regulations are specific requirements for handling laboratory test results, etc. Neither of these would guard against infection and ensure abortion complications are handled appropriately. 

Sadly, the CEO of VA League for Planned Parenthood (including several locations) assured the court that this entity alone had taken well over 50,000 lives just in the last 12 years.  Of course, it was not phrased in that manner.  As a mom, I realized that those were classmates and teammates of my four children, the oldest of whom is 12 years old.   It was likely friends and neighbors of mine, unaware of the support for their pregnancy, adoption or motherhood that was  available to them, who made the  decision to end those lives.  Heartbreaking.

The court also heard from Dr. Karen Remley, a former Commissioner of Health, who attempted to paint a picture of how the safety standards she helped put together with a group of doctors would have been valuable but that the process was corrupted by politics.  The problem with her argument (that hopefully the Judge recognizes) is that all regulations go through a political process.  Not all recommendations given by experts during the regulatory process are included in the final product when voted upon by the government entity making the final decision. This is not abnormal, but in fact, is practically guaranteed due to the lengthy regulatory process.  In many places, her testimony inadvertently helped the defense. Here are a few of Dr. Remley’s other notable statements:

  • She noted that, in forming the group of experts to give recommendations on standards, they had gotten the advice from the heads of the various medical school OBGYN departments. She highlighted how the McDonnell administration suggested she include Dr. John Seeds, then Chairman of the OBGYN department at VCU.  This was supposedly her evidence to show that the administration forced a doctor onto the panel who was likely initially excluded because he is known to be in favor of the preservation of unborn life. 

  • She repeatedly confirmed that many of the components of the safety standards are “medically optimal.”  These included the CDC guidelines for infectious disease control and life-saving equipment.  Her concern wasn’t directed at unnecessary safety guidelines, but simply that all outpatient surgery does not receive equal oversight.

  • As she called the regulation of physicians’ offices the “wild west” and admitted that the state knows nothing about the safety of those practices, you could almost hear the Plaintiff lawyers gasp, since this is their desired level of standards  they need to convince the Judge is sufficient.  She did note that the building construction guidelines were not part of the original recommendations, but omitted the fact that they were added because the Code of Virginia has a law requiring them. 

  • She sited that, in addition to the building code requirements, the doctor panel never recommended that an abortion facility have a Transfer Agreement with a hospital, which was included in the Board’s final recommendations.  Unfortunately, she grossly mischaracterized that safety requirement as the physician having to be “on staff” at a hospital, which is not the same as having  Admitting Privileges. The Commissioner is fully aware that the safety standards are meant to govern the facility, and that they cannot and do not govern the doctor.  Regardless of her misrepresentation, she must not have been aware that part of the previous Abortionist’s testimony about handling complications included the fact that if it were severe enough, they would transport the patient to a hospital.  I suspect a Judge would naturally conclude that such a connection between facility and hospital would be valuable in that case. 

There was also considerable focus on the 24-hour delay and the ultrasound requirement, and the supposed burden these place on women seeking abortions.  The Plaintiffs even brought in a bioethicist to suggest that even merely offering a woman the option to view her ultrasound or to hear her baby’s heartbeat – as required by law - violated the woman’s autonomy and decision-making capability.  Yes, you read that right. You just cannot make this stuff up. According to this “expert” bioethicist, less knowledge for a woman equals greater autonomy. So much for “a woman’s choice.”

The trial so far has clearly placed the abortion industry in the role of Chicken Little, effectively claiming“the sky is falling” with each and every requirement, no matter how minor.  According to the Plaintiffs, the regulations are overly burdensome, the safety standards are unachievable, the waiting period is unhelpful and unfair, and women will be unable travel to obtain their abortion, etc., etc..  One wonders what nominal requirement the abortion industry would consider not be an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion. I can think of one very effective way the government could ensure women’s easier access to abortion: slash the industry’s prices for abortions in half. Somehow I’m certain Planned Parenthood would draw a line on that one.

Now the Plaintiff’s case has been fully presented. Next week it will be the Defense’s turn to argue their side, and hopefully make a compelling case for upholding these important protections for health, safety, and life.   We will be in the courtroom following this case closely, so stay tuned.    

Falls Church v. Oliver

Today at 9:00 a.m. I joined others from my team at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Some of us were inside to watch the proceedings while others were outside praying for a righteous decision. 

Judge Henry E. Hudson is hearing a vitally important lawsuit against all of our pro-life laws. This lawsuit, Falls Church Medical Center, LLC. v. Oliver, was brought by Planned Parenthood and abortion allies to take away all of our pro-life laws. Here are some of the laws that the abortion industry wants to strike down with a court decree:

  • Our "Window to the Womb" ultrasound law,

  • Our law requiring full informed consent before abortions,

  • The law requiring a 24 hour waiting period before an abortion,

  • All of our health and safety regulations,

  • Our law limiting 2nd Trimester abortions to hospitals only; and

  • The law, which has been on the books since 1975, stating that only licensed physicians are allowed to do abortions!

Ultimately the pro-abortion industry wants to remove every pro-life law we have ever passed! And, having failed to do so in the legislature, they are turning to the courts.

Judge Hudson will be hearing witnesses and testimony in this case for the next two weeks - concluding on May 31st. The Family Foundation will be there to monitor every day of the proceedings.

It’s hard to fully describe what it’s like to sit in a courtroom and listen to an abortionist, who testifies to having done thousands of abortions, dispassionately describe what he does for a living, complete with seemingly unending euphemisms to describe abortion rather than facts.  If one heard Governor Northam describe infanticide on the radio, it’s comparable, except for hours on end.

Much of the day was listening to the testimony and cross examination of an Oregon abortionist Dr. Mark Nichols.  Dr. Nichols went to great lengths to claim nearly all abortion is virtually without complication.  The difficulty with his presentation is that in Virginia, despite years of presenting legislation to the Virginia General Assembly to collect complication data on abortion, short of what is presented as a result of the newly adopted safety inspections, our Commonwealth simply has not been collecting complications.  For decades it has been the case that if a woman has a perforated uterus and presents herself at the hospital, it will be filed as a hemorrhaging, not an abortion complication.  Even after regulations adopted in 2011 required some complication reporting, inspections reveal that complications are still not being reported.  Dr. Nichols reported that even uterus perforations are often handled onsite rather than transferring a patient to a hospital.  We know that is because the industry does everything possible to conceal complications, including not sending women to the hospital when then need that level of repair after a botched abortion.      

Abortionist Nichols gave testimony that he does a thorough job ensuring the informed consent of women, emphasizing that he finds women fully competent to understand the decision they are making.  However, when drilled about his use of ultrasound in that informed consent process, he acknowledged that he does deny women the right to see their ultrasound, despite their request because he knows what’s best for them. 

In a moment that shocked no one except Rachel Maddow, Dr. Nichols did affirm his use of ultrasound in each and every abortion he performs because it results in a safer abortion.  If one watched the news or late-night television during the passage of our Window to the Womb law in 2012, one would have walked away with the impression that ultrasounds are simply a tool of “state sponsored rape.”  Seriously.  I wish I were kidding.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of today’s discussion was the notion that this doctor could provide women with any facts that would allow her to make an informed consent when he couldn’t use any correct terms to speak about a woman carrying a child.  With the rare exception, he never used the word “baby” and only rarely the term “fetus.” Most of his entire time on the stand only referred to “pregnancies”, “pregnancy tissue” and “products of conception.” 

At one point it was clear the defense attorney wanted him to acknowledge the process by which an abortionist ensures they have done a complete abortion, which is to put the child’s body parts back together and determine they are all accounted for.  Rather than owning this known process, the abortionist simply said that he checks the womb to ensure the “products of conception” are gone.  When asked what the “products of conception” were, he simply responded with the “fetus and placenta.”  He even managed to describe needing bigger tools in later week abortions because the “pregnancy is bigger.”  In English, rather than abortion-speak, the child ‘s skull is bigger but apparently, despite acting as if abortion is the same as removing a wort, the abortionist does not appear to have the boldness to actually use real words to reference the human body being torn apart.

Much of the testimony centered around the various types of abortion:

1)    Chemical - take two pills and induce a process like a miscarriage, including a tremendous amount of bleeding
2)    Suction - envision a vacuum used to remove the child
3)    Dilation and evacuation (D & E) - a woman is dilated and the child is dismembered and then removed.
4)    Induction –  the child is shot into the heart with a lethal drug, labor is induced and a whole dead child delivered.  If the child is not delivered whole, post-induction dismemberment will occur.

The abortionist steered away from using words like “vacuum”, “dismemberment” or “delivery.”  However, it is critical to note that he testified that he does suction abortions until 15 weeks, D & E until 22-24 weeks and induction abortion or what has been coined “heart attack” abortion after 24 weeks.  Given this is the case, petitioners are filing to move 2nd trimester (through 27 weeks) abortions from a hospital to an abortion center and remove the physician requirement.  If the Judge were to strike down these laws, one has to ask if the law would then allow induction abortions in a center with a health worker who is not a doctor, like a certified midwife delivering the dead baby?  Remember, Virginia’s laws are not structured around the types of procedures, they are structured around gestational ages of development. For Judge Hudson to rule by procedure, he would need to essentially rewrite the law for the General Assembly.

Our hope is that the ten-day trial highlights for Judge Hudson the over 500 health and safety violations in the Virginia centers over the last couple of years including blood on the equipment, expired medications and untrained staff.  It would be hard to read what we’ve read, inspections that are readily available to the public, and the Judge conclude that this industry needs less oversight. 

I will be in the court as often as I can be over the course of this trial. Please keep this case in your prayers.

Religious Liberty On the Line!

The federal “Equality Act” (H.R. 5) is moving through the House of Representatives at warp speed, and is scheduled to be voted on this week!

CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act.   

You can read more about the devastating impacts of the bill here on our blog, or watch this video with testimonials of people whose lives have been wrecked by similar state laws.

Last week I told you that this bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of federal legislation that I have seen in my lifetime, a comment that I do not make flippantly. And the more we learn about the potential impact of this legislation, the more my concerns grow.

The bill’s threats to religious liberty, free speech, churches and faith-based hospitals are well-established, but we are learning more about how this bill will actually cause greater harm to people.  According to Dr. Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician and executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, H.R. 5 would force physicians to prescribe toxic hormones and drugs for adults and even children that can produce severe side effects, or even to perform serious medical procedures, all to “change” a person’s physical features to conform to their self-prescribed gender identity.

The so-called Equality Act would eliminate all parental authority related to the training and well-being of their children by prohibiting parents from ever interfering with a child’s access to transgender medical procedures.  Sadly, this is no longer a hypothetical. Recently, parents in Ohio, which has a similar state law, had their parental rights terminated for failing to approve puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for their adolescent child.

We’ve learned that the so-called Equality Act would also provide that “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” cannot be treated any differently than other physical conditions.  This means all restrictions to abortion would be torn down, and anybody or any group who doesn’t want to fund or commit an abortion at any stage will be subject to punishment.

The reality is that this type of radical legislation has already permeated many state legislatures, and now the House is applying a full-court press to pass the so-called Equality Act at the federal level. 

We cannot allow the government to push people with strong religious convictions into compromising their beliefs, or to usurp the prerogatives – and constitutional rights – of parents to guide the education and health of their children.

CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act.  You can also reach your Congressman and Senators at (202) 224-3121.  Don’t wait, the House plans to vote on this bill this week!

Federal Court Strikes Down Pro-Life Laws

Federal Court Strikes Down Pro-Life Laws

With virtually no control over what happens next, this is yet another moment for all pro-life Virginians to reflect on one unasailable reality: Elections have consequences. That being true, while we may have little control, we have the ear of the One who has all control. Please join me in praying for the outcome of this case to be fully argued on May 20th. So much is at stake for so many who need the laws' protection. 

Love Them Now and Love Them Later

Love Them Now and Love Them Later

This is a hopeless viewpoint. It is the view that no one can overcome their circumstances and rise above their humble beginnings.

He ignores every example of great people who did overcome harsh and cold upbringings to be great men and women who advanced noble causes in this land. People from all centuries have overcome a loveless childhood to bless America. Just to list two examples, both Oprah Winfrey and Benjamin Franklin overcame terrible childhood experiences to be incredible blessings to the world.

Budget Update: Victory for Life!

We are thrilled to tell you that, at yesterday's "Veto Session" in Richmond to consider the Governor's vetos and budget recommendations, the House of Delegates rejected Governor Northam's attempts to make taxpayers pay for abortions and to funnel millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood! This is a huge win for the protection of unborn life, and a great end to a day that began with Virginia's first-ever (and highly successful) statewide March For Life at the Capitol.

For more details of the pro-life budget provisions that were successfully defended yesterday, read about them here on our blog.

The Governor's amendment to keep millions in tax dollars flowing to abortion facilities was defeated 50-49, and his amendment to fund abortions failed on a vote of 50-45. We want to thank several Delegates who made compelling floor speeches in support of the pro-life language, including Delegates Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), who has been a champion for the budget's "Hyde Amendment" language, Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), and Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg). Look out for videos of these and others like them on our Facebook page soon - The Family Foundation Action

Believe it or not, there is still one more round left to go in the budget process. It will now be sent back to the Governor, who will have a final veto opportunity. With yesterday’s success, we crossed another major hurdle in protecting life in Virginia. It's a great day to be a pro-life Virginian! Thank you for all your support and prayers.

Life Stole the Show! [General Assembly Recap Part 1]

Life Stole the Show! [General Assembly Recap Part 1]

The 2019 General Assembly session wrapped up last Sunday, and in my 19 years with The Family Foundation, I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it. It was a whirlwind of major policy issues with game-changing implications, fought over in a raw and unpredictable political slug-fest marked by all the hype, drama and epic showdowns one could hardly expect from a primetime Hollywood storyline – and so much of it played out on a national stage. In Virginia’s Capitol of recent days, the truth is stranger than fiction. Yet from the midst of all the chaos has emerged one miraculous victory after another, and while this session didn’t end with a perfect record, we consider it a tremendous success. In Part 1 of our 2019 Session Recap, we highlight some of the issues involving life.

Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Deserve Protection

Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Deserve Protection

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) has introduced a bill, S.311, at the federal level to protect people like Melissa, Josiah, and Claire. It is called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

The Senate is going to vote on this bill tonight. Please take a moment to reach out to Senator Kaine and Senator Warner to tell them you support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. A vote against this life-saving bill is ultimately a vote in support of infanticide.

A Tragic Loss for Life and Family

On Wednesday, by a vote of 63-36 the House of Delegates, unfortunately, agreed to the Senate’s nominally-amended version of HB 1979 (D-48, Sullivan). (The Senate passed it 28-12.) The bill will now make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Make no mistake, this legislation will bring a dramatic and harmful policy shift concerning the creation and treatment of human life, the rights of children, the basis for parenthood, the significance of marriage, and the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. Despite the numerous victories so far this session, the passage of HB 1979 is of profound damage to the family. 

Some have called this bill "pro-life" because it will now allow single people and same-sex couples to contract with a surrogate mother to implant one or more of the one million "snowflake babies," which have been created in labs and are currently frozen. But those same legislators completely disregarded the obvious incentives this bill creates, which will only lead to countless more human embryos being created in labs, frozen, and left to languish. While we, too, want existing human embryos to have the opportunity to fully develop, this bill will only ensure this problem is multiplied. 

Another reason this bill cannot be pro-life is because it allows surrogacy contracts to include forced abortions, including “selective reductions,” which is the horrific practice of killing some of the babies in the womb, while leaving one or more alive. Some contracts also allow the intended parents to be able to require abortion of the child(ren) if the child appears to have a disability, or simply if they change their minds about wanting the child. This is commonplace in surrogacy contracts, and current Virginia law does not prohibit these types of agreements. This bill will greatly expand the number of surrogacy contracts, but without doing anything to protect against forced abortions at the demands of the “intended parents.” 

For the first time, this bill would sever the biological connection between a child and his or her parents before the child is ever born. Current law requires at least one parent to be a genetic parent of the child who is being intentionally created through assisted conception. This bill allows for there to be no genetic connection at all, replacing the legal basis for parenthood with a mere contract among willing adults, which effectively flips the current custodial paradigm of “best interests of the child” to one of merely the desires and intentions of any adult. 

Tragically, this bill, for the first time, allows for a child to be intentionally and permanently deprived of either a mother or a father before they are even born, and for the entirety of their life. (The bill removed all the references to “father”, “mother”, “husband” and “wife”.) Yet every person innately understands the value of having both a mother and father, and those who grow up without either a mother or a father tend to have a deep longing to have and to know them. Since the bill now allows single and non-married persons to contract with someone to produce a child for them through surrogacy simply because they want one, this Commonwealth has just declared that when it comes to bringing children into the world, married homes are no more preferred than single-parent homes. 

While the outcome is incredibly disappointing, we witnessed throughout the process incredible courage on the part of some legislators who did not succumb to the outside pressures to support this bill.  We want to especially thank Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33, Hamilton) for his commitment to protecting unborn life and speaking on the House floor in opposition to HB 1979 several times, including his great floor speech yesterday. Watch it HERE

HB 1979 is a clear illustration of the lengths that the Left (and now, even some on the Right) will go to in order to redefine the family by stripping away the biological connections between parents and children and to protect the barbaric practice of selective reduction and abortion. 

Please pray for us as we continue to fight against these dangerous anti-life and anti-family policies. 

ERA is Defeated for the LAST Time

ERA is Defeated for the LAST Time

After watching the ERA get defeated in the subcommittee and again in the full committee, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it has been finally defeated in the full House of Delegates this year.

In a desperate, last ditch effort to pass the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, Delegate Hala Ayala tried to change the very rules of the House of Delegates!

Take a moment to say Thank You to these House Republicans who recognized this last-second rule change for what it was, a political ploy by advocates of the so-called ERA to allow abortions on the day of one's birth with no restrictions whatsoever!