Accountability for Abortion Centers: Six Years and CountingFeb. 24, 2017
Six years ago today, the Virginia General Assembly passed the law to hold abortion centers to reasonable health and safety standards for the first time. Virginia, like many other states, resolved to make certain that the Kermit Gosnell's of the world could no longer remain unaccountable for the ghastly practices and horrific conditions inside their abortion facilities. But that accountability didn't happen overnight. Even though the bill included an "emergency provision" in order to take prompt effect, the Board of Health still had to write the regulations.
Several months later, after much deliberation, the regulations went into effect, opening the door to periodic inspections which have allowed us to discover what was really going on inside these abortion centers and to see whether they were actually complying with the law. And just as we had suspected, the evidence has shown substantial and widespread health and safety violations. Since the first Health Department inspections of mid-2012, beginning with 20 abortion centers statewide, over 1,300 individual regulatory violations have been cited in official records from the Health Department. And those were just the ones cited, though certainly not representing exhaustive searches. In that time, six centers have closed their doors, with 14 remaining.
One abortion center - Virginia Health Group in Fairfax - was so bad, that within 24 hours of a 52-page report of violations, Governor McAuliffe's own Department of Health suspended its license, effectively shutting it down for good. Yet remarkably, the evidence does not show that many of these centers are improving their health and safety record over time. In November of 2016, during the most recent round of biennial inspections, the Annandale Women and Family Center was cited for 117 regulatory violations in a 144 page report - the most ever cited in a single abortion center inspection report. The record of these centers is replete with egregious examples of health violations including bloody, unsterilized medical equipment, doctors and nurses not washing hands or re-gloving between patients, and violations of state and federal drug laws.
It is within this context that Governor McAuliffe and his majority-appointed state Board of Health have spent the last three years doing everything they can to roll back and water down the abortion center health and safety regulations. Despite overwhelming evidence of their necessity, this administration will clearly stop at nothing to pay back favors to the billion dollar abortion industry. We spent that time resisting these attempts at every turn, but elections do have consequences, and time and power eventually prevailed in stripping the regulations of their force.
As of Monday, the final amended regulations have been posted for one final 30-day period before which they will take effect. Our options now are limited, but we are committed to continuing the fight where we can. We recognize, after all, that every life has tremendous value. That means the lives of the babies whose lives are taken in these halls of death, but it also means the women who are permanently impacted by their experience there and who also deserve to be treated with care according to high standards of health and safety. We believe that ensuring that has led to positive and meaningful results that promote and preserve life in our state. And that's something worth fighting for.
Feed Planned Parenthood, Then the KidsFeb. 24, 2017
Each week, the Governor’s office sends a press release listing their “Top 5” accomplishments from the week. Apparently, this list is supposed to be reflective of the Governor’s priorities.
So the order at the top of this week’s “Top 5” list is very telling:
- Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Legislation Defunding Women’s Health Provider Planned Parenthood
- Governor McAuliffe Signs Bills Strengthening Virginia's Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Efforts
- Dorothy McAuliffe & Kathleen Sandoval: Ending Childhood Hunger Isn't Just the Right Thing to Do — It's Smart
That’s right, this Governor, who derides “divisive social issues” every chance he gets, put making sure taxpayers are propping up Planned Parenthood's abortion centers ahead of dealing with Virginia’s destructive Opioid crisis and ending childhood hunger!
There’s little doubt that advancing the progressive left’s social agenda has been a top priority of this Governor, particularly that of the $1 billion abortion industry, regardless of his rhetoric. Today’s list is simply reflective of that reality. He puts protecting Planned Parenthood, a business responsible for the deaths of thousands of unborn children every year, ahead of ending hunger, ahead of helping people with addiction.
This is McAuliffe’s “new Virginia.” One where Planned Parenthood reigns supreme.
Pro-adoption Bill Poised to Become LawFeb. 23, 2017
To be pro-life is to take a holistic view of the value of human life and to promote those institutions, like the family, which are critical for human flourishing. That’s why, in addition to fighting to protect unborn life, we work hard to encourage adoption for kids who need a mom and a dad. This year in the Virginia General Assembly, we have an opportunity to do that in a unique way.
Senate Bill 1412, patroned by Senator Dave Suetterlein (R-19, Roanoke), creates a new classification of paid leave for a state employee who adopts an infant under a year old. Currently, mothers who give birth to a child are offered paid maternity leave by their state employer, but parents who adopt a newborn child don’t receive that benefit. If this bill is signed into law – and it looks like it will be – then adoptive parents employed by the state will also be able to take that time to bond with their new baby in the same way as natural parents can.
This is a good and pro-life public policy because the Commonwealth of Virginia is saying ‘we are going to value and encourage adoption.’ It’s also good public policy because it seeks to treat new parents equitably, recognizing the critical nature of the first few weeks together between an infant child and his or her parents. Encouraging adoption is also good fiscal policy when considering the cost to the state in the long run for the care of each child until adulthood.
Meanwhile, the more we can promote and facilitate adoption, the more we can take away incentives for abortions. What if every woman who wasn’t ready for a child knew that there was someone waiting who was? Probably more would choose life. And just maybe, with the help of this new law, more people will choose adoption.
Private PartsFeb. 21, 2017
It was quite an interesting morning outside the Governor’s Mansion on Capitol Square today. Late yesterday Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office released his “Public Schedule” for the week:
You’ll note that his “Public Schedule” includes “Governor McAuliffe to act on legislation impacting womens health” at 9:45 am today at the Executive Mansion. Now, we are well aware that the so-called “progressive” left has some difficulty discerning what is public and private (see bathrooms), and we learned this morning that this apparently includes what constitutes a “public” event.
You see, several of us who wanted to see the Governor’s “public” activity showed up at the Mansion and tried to gain access. Only when we did we were informed that no, the event wasn’t “public,” it was private. Yet we watched as several people entered the event without showing any form of ID, so how the Capitol Police could distinguish between those invited to the public/private event is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it was the signs we were carrying that said things like “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “Planned Parenthood Lies” that made us undesirable.
So undesirable, in fact, that we were then informed that we couldn’t hold up our signs because we “didn’t have a permit.” This was a bit perplexing since we know that permits aren’t granted for any areas of Capitol Square with the exception of the area around the Bell Tower, far removed from the Capitol and the Executive Mansion; and this despite having witnessed numerous groups all session long being allowed to hold up signs wherever and whenever they pleased. We’ve watched Planned Parenthood apologists line the sidewalks of Capitol Square with their signs. Apparently, they are permitted to do that. In all fairness to the Capitol Police, they were just “doing what we’re told,” apparently by the administration, because we did hold up signs when we first arrived, but then we couldn't.
While standing outside the fence surrounding the Governor’s Mansion unable to hold up our signs, we were able to hear the Governor pontificate on how it is so important to have an “open and inclusive” Virginia where everyone feels welcome. While we were standing outside the fence. Barred from being welcome.
The Governor then very publicly (sort of) vetoed legislation that would have redirected taxpayer dollars away from Planned Parenthood toward real health clinics that offer comprehensive care for women. McAuliffe was joined at this public (oh, never mind) campaign rally by candidate for Governor Ralph Northam and candidate for AG Mark Herring.
For the second year in a row, the Governor celebrated vetoing a bill supported by 54 percent of Virginians; last year he did so at a Planned Parenthood abortion center. At least this year he did it in public/private/behind a fence.
Save the Babies!Feb. 15, 2017
The definition of “women’s health care” is as fluid it seems as the definition of gender, at least to the political left. Yesterday’s floor debate in the state Senate is another example.
As the Senate was debating Delegate Ben Cline’s bill to redirect non-Medicaid funding away from Planned Parenthood to comprehensive health care facilities, Senator Barbara Favola lamented that such a prohibition would end a contract the state has with a Planned Parenthood affiliate to provide STD testing. She worried that such a change would endanger “women’s health” and put unborn babies at risk (no, really) because they are more likely to have health issues if their moms have an STD:
Never mind that being killed in the womb is “no fault of their own” either, Favola and Planned Parenthood itself sure are awfully concerned about STD testing all of the sudden, which is kind of surprising. You see, over the past year plus while the industry was fighting to dilute abortion center health and safety standards, they fought to remove a requirement that abortion centers provide STD testing!
That’s right, the same people lamenting that they aren’t going to get paid by taxpayers to do STD testing also fought against having to do STD testing. Apparently, it’s only women’s health care when you profit off of the taxpayers.
And by the way, there is no reason that community health clinics can’t apply for the same grant and provide the same service. And they can do so in really “underserved” areas because they actually have clinics in underserved areas. There are no Planned Parenthood abortion centers west of Roanoke. There are dozens of community health care centers.
It really is remarkable that the abortion industry seems absolutely incapable of being honest in any way. Or they are completely blind to their own distortions. But they can get away with it because there is absolutely no one in the media that is going to challenge their claims.
Faking NewsFeb. 08, 2017
If anyone ever wondered why so few people trust the “mainstream” media, today’s stories about two bills that passed yesterday in the House of Delegates and state Senate are clear evidence.
Now, as someone who has been doing political media work for nearly 20 years, let me first say that there are still good reporters out there trying to be accurate. Not all reporters are so blatantly biased that they manipulate stories, and even some who have bias do an admirable job of trying to be fair. But the decline in accuracy, the inability to even begin to hide bias, the have-to-get-this-online immediately syndrome, and quite frankly, the rise of a generation of reports who have no concern about being subjective and inaccurate has ruined media credibility and if not corrected is going to have devastating consequences for our nation. Fake news is just the beginning.
Back to today’s news stories (some of which first appeared online last night, leaving no time for any reporter to verify claims made).
In a story delivered by the Associated Press to multiple news outlets concerning the passage of a House bill that would redirect money away from Planned Parenthood, several false claims were made and printed as if true. The first claim, that abortion makes up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s business, has been repeatedly proven false and misleading, even by the media’s own “fact-checkers.” The statement is not attributed to anyone in particular in the story, so where did the “reporter” (I’ll explain why that’s in quotes shortly) get the information? Was it her own bias? Did someone with Planned Parenthood or some other abortion-defending group tell her? It’s in the paragraph that prefaces other claims with “according to the organization.” Does that apply to the 3 percent claim? Who exactly should be held accountable for the falsehood?
Another false claim in the article states, “Without the funding, the organization says it would have to shut its five clinics in the state.” The reality is that most of the money Planned Parenthood receives is from Medicaid, which this bill doesn't address, and the amount of taxpayer dollars that would be affected by this bill is relatively small. Small enough that it would have no bearing on whether or not a facility would close.
Late this afternoon, a correction on the second claim was posted on the story on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website, stating, “An earlier version of this story reported erroneously that losing funding would force the group to close its five clinics in the state. Planned Parenthood officials said defunding would ‘significantly undermine our ability’ to provide services at the clinics, but they did not say the facilities would close.” Frankly, the correction is just as false as the original statement, but it’s at least moving in the direction of accuracy.
Here’s the interesting part, the “reporter” on the story is, in fact, a student at VCU and not a professional journalist. Because news outlets are bleeding money and most veteran reporters in Richmond have been kicked to the curb or left for other jobs, some media outlets are relying on something called the Capital News Service, which is primarily staffed by college kids! So, the Associated Press story was not actually written by someone with the AP, but by a college student.
Now, I’m all for “real life” experience for college kids. Heaven knows many could use some. But relying on a college student for actual news reporting is far removed from the days when they would research and verify facts for a story, not have the actual byline! Regardless, an editor somewhere along the way should have known about the 3 percent falsehood. It’s easily found with a simple Google search. Clearly, no one cared if the story was accurate, just that it went online quickly and, I dare say, fit the narrative that Planned Parenthood must be saved at all cost.
A second story came from the Richmond Times-Dispatch regarding a religious liberty bill that passed the state Senate. It quoted the Senate Democrat caucus this way: “The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus issued a news release saying the bill would allow state employees to refuse marriage licenses to people based on religious beliefs.”
Except that statement is patently false. The bill clearly defines to whom it would apply and “state employees” are nowhere to be found. It’s very limited to those associated with religious organizations in the performance of duties associated with the organization. Again, the story popped up online and my guess is the reporter had no time to verify the claim, which was since deleted from the online version of the story. This afternoon, after the reporter was made aware of the erroneous claim, the Senate Democrat caucus issued a correction saying, “Yesterday's press release incorrectly stated that Senator Carrico's SB 1324 would allow state employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses on account of their sincerely held religious beliefs. That was not the intention of the bill. We apologize for the staff error and commit to further quality controls in order to make sure this does not happen again.”
Intention? No, it’s the actual language of the bill, but here’s to “quality controls” to make sure facts are used. Perhaps the editors at the Associated Press and RTD should think about some “quality controls” as well.
Of course, online corrections to these stories is simply too late. How many people go back and read a story again to find the corrections hidden at the bottom? My guess is you won’t see these false claims challenged in any meaningful way on any media website or in print. Anchors or reporters on newscasts (like here) who may have quoted the falsehoods won’t likely begin tonight’s newscasts with an apology (rarely do you see that happen) or correction. The fact is the narratives for these stories were affirmed and people were fed falsehoods that they will continue to believe because “it was in the news.”
I repeat, some of these errors can be attributed to reporters not having time to verify claims in the age of news is now. But still, these falsehoods are suspect on their face and a simple reading of the legislation will show them to be false. Clearly, a reporter should have time while sitting waiting for votes to be cast to actually read the bills? An editor should be aware that fact-checkers have found statements to be false or misleading. Some of it may be shear laziness.
But a lot of it is biased. Too many reporters believe what confirms their bias. How do we know? Last night, when talking with reporters about the Planned Parenthood bill, we challenged the false claims, because the "AP" story was already online. And we were ignored. To me, that’s proof they weren’t interested in truth, but in telling their version of reality, which just happens to align with Planned Parenthood’s.
And that’s why people are just as willing to believe “fake news” as they are what they are being fed by the “mainstream” media.
VA Planned Parenthood ExposedFeb. 08, 2017
Planned Parenthood has been exposed. Again. This time, it involves Planned Parenthood’s Virginia Beach center.
A new video by the group Live Action records a phone call to the abortion center. While the caller is placed on hold, the center’s recording states: “Did you know that Planned Parenthood can take care of all your reproductive health needs? Whether it’s an annual exam, pregnancy testing and counseling, prenatal care, we are here for you with high-quality, low-cost services.”
Then, when the Planned Parenthood representative picks up the line, the caller asks whether they offer prenatal care. The PP rep is quick to say they don’t offer it. She then admits that the group’s other two affiliates in Richmond and Hampton don’t offer prenatal care either!
Watch it here (starting around 1:40):
According to Planned Parenthood’s own website, “Prenatal care is the care you receive from a health care provider, such as a doctor or midwife, during pregnancy. During prenatal care visits, your health care provider will make sure you and the developing fetus are healthy and strong. These regular checkups are your chance to learn how to manage the discomforts of pregnancy, have any testing you may need, learn warning signs, and ask any questions you may have.”
Boy, that’s not something you hear every day from Planned Parenthood. And apparently in Virginia, you’re not likely to see it in action either. Since “making sure that [mom] and the developing fetus are healthy and strong” doesn’t exactly help Planned Parenthood’s bottom line, don’t plan on ever seeing it happen.
Planned Parenthood Now Provides What???Feb. 07, 2017
Unprecedented efforts are being made to strip Planned Parenthood and the entire abortion industry of taxpayer funding. Conservatives in Congress and state legislatures are now zeroing in on the abortion giant who, in addition to performing 323,999 abortions in the U.S. in 2014 alone, has recently been referred for investigation in several states for the criminal trafficking of fetal body parts.
For the 2015 budget year, Planned Parenthood received $553.7 million for “government health services grants and reimbursements.” That’s just the federal government, and it doesn’t include money flowing to other abortion providers. In Virginia, Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst) has carried a bill for the past two years to prevent non-Medicaid state tax dollars from going to abortion centers like Planned Parenthood. The money would instead go to the 139 federally-qualified healthcare clinics in the state who don’t perform abortions and who, unlike abortion centers, provide comprehensive healthcare for women.
Opponents of the bill say it’s not necessary to strip abortion centers of state funding since Virginia consistently includes in its budget a prohibition against state funding for abortions, with certain exceptions. Planned Parenthood, they claim, uses the money for “other services”, but not abortions. But that is an absurd argument since money, as we know, is fungible.
But their claim does invite the question of what “other” services is Planned Parenthood providing anyway? Well, for starters, we know they don’t perform mammograms. We know they don’t provide prenatal care. And as for ultrasounds, we know that they are predominantly used only for the purpose of performing abortions. We know that the State Board of Health recently passed regulations that, among other things, removed the requirement for abortion centers to provide STD testing and screening. Meanwhile, their oft-repeated claim that abortion comprises “only 3% of [their] services” has been thoroughly debunked.
But there is one service we now know Planned Parenthood is providing in Virginia. They have recently begun promoting it on their website.
Drum roll, please: Hormone therapy for “transgendered” individuals.
As of September 19 of last year, the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood – which includes centers in Richmond, VA Beach, and Hampton – began offering services to help a man “transition” into the likeness of a woman, and vice versa. According to the League’s website, they offer “Hormone therapy” which “may include: Feminizing medications, Anti-androgen medications, and Masculinizing medications.”
So let me get this straight: Even if I could agree that taxpayer dollars are not directly paying for abortions when they are sent to Planned Parenthood, I can be confident that some money will go towards perpetuating a person’s mental health condition regarding his or her perceived sex, while furthering a dangerously false notion that a person’s sex is defined only by how they feel at the time?
Well, just in case we needed another reason to totally defund Planned Parenthood, there it is folks. That should do it.
 “being something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account”; https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fungible
Crossover Sees Wins, LossesFeb. 06, 2017
As the General Assembly approaches “crossover,” the day after which each chamber can consider only bills that have passed the other chamber, dozens of bills have been disposed of in committee or, now and then, on the floor of either the House or Senate.
First the good news, a handful of bills creating new "hate crimes" were defeated in House and Senate committees this week. And though it may sound strange, that is a victory for conscience rights.
Hate crimes essentially punish thought, and one could be subject to a separate criminal penalty, including jail time, not for the actual crime, but simply because of the thoughts at the time. In Virginia, conviction of a hate crime carries with it a “mandatory minimum” of 30 days in jail. One can clearly see the slippery slope created by this sort of “thought crime”. What sort of thoughts, values, or motivations might the state try to criminalize next?
As we watch the progressive left use violence and bullying to silence speech it doesn’t like, criminalizing thoughts in any way is a dangerous step. Luckily, those in the House and Senate courts committees agreed.
Last Thursday, we saw our top religious liberty proposal pass the House of Delegates. This bill, which passed last year but was vetoed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, protects religious charities and schools from being discriminated against by the state simply because those organizations don’t hold the Governor’s view of marriage. (A Senate version passed committee Friday afternoon.)
Also this week, the House passed a resolution recognizing pornography as a serious public health problem. The devastating effects of pornography on society are now being chronicled in research and for many, in their own lives. From addiction to destroying marriages to its impact on human trafficking, few reasonable people see anything positive in the exploitation of men and women through pornography. Recently, South Dakota became the second state to recognize pornography as a public health hazard. Though this resolution falls short of that, it has brought attention to this serious problem.
Not all, however, went as we hoped this week. Legislation we supported that would have made Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program more attractive to corporate donors failed in the House of Delegates on a “voice vote.” The bill would have increased the tax credit from 65 to 90 percent, bringing Virginia in line with other states that have similar programs. Already, nearly 2,500 low and middle income children are benefiting from the program, which last school year saved the Commonwealth over $4 million. Unfortunately, those arguments didn’t win the day as the bill died on a procedural vote. The good news on school choice is that other proposals, including expanding virtual and charter schools and creating Education Savings Accounts are still making their way through the legislature.
Thank you again to everyone who has responded to our Action Alerts! With all the bills that will be voted on by both the House and Senate on Monday and Tuesday, I know you’ve received several alerts. These are important issues so we hope you’ll be patient and take the time to act so that your elected officials hear from you!
"Blood on Your Hands"Feb. 02, 2017
Two bills were heard Monday in a House subcommittee on Health, Welfare and Institutions. One of them, HB 1563, would effectively remove most of the health and safety standards for abortion centers, putting women at even greater risk when utilizing one of these facilities. The other, HB 2264, would shift state tax dollars away from Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers by reprioritizing the funds to go to comprehensive health clinics and hospitals where women can receive the full range of healthcare services in one place. Thankfully, HB 1563 went down in flames and HB 2264 passed on a vote of 4-1.
Predictably, Planned Parenthood brought their crowd – donned in bright pink – to express opposition to the mere thought of the billion-dollar abortion giant losing any morsel of its precious taxpayer funding. To hear their rhetoric, you’d think Planned Parenthood has a constitutional and unalienable right to public money. I am always struck by the lengths these abortion apologists go to bend and distort the truth to advance their shameless cause. As an attorney, their incessant legal claims of “unconstitutionality” in particular make me cringe. At the same time, they do deserve some credit for their uncanny ability to mobilize their activists. (Come to think of it, maybe that’s what those taxpayer dollars are funding.)
But after the votes were taken, and the pink Planned Parenthood crowd began funneling out of the room, the most peculiar thing happened. A pro-life colleague who had testified on the bills was standing next to me, and one of the abortion activists tapped him on the shoulder as they walked by and said to him “There’s blood on your hands, man.”
Come again? Wow, talk about irony of ironies!
Let’s recall: he had opposed one bill that would have jeopardized the health and safety of women undergoing surgeries, and he supported a bill that would have incentivized women to utilize comprehensive health clinics that could provide for all of their basic needs. His testimony included how his organization objected to calling abortion services “healthcare” since it ended life rather than preserving life. It was Planned Parenthood who had sought to reinstate shoddy, unsanitary and unaccountable abortion centers for women and who had opposed improved access to comprehensive health services for women – all so that it could continue to line its own pockets with state funds, through lower compliance costs, and through the killing of even more babies.
The abortion industry claimed nearly 1 million innocent lives in the U.S. in 2013 alone. Planned Parenthood was responsible for the greatest portion of those. That’s one million innocent children a year ripped limb from limb and whose skulls are crushed in order to preserve organs to be trafficked for profit. So please tell me: Who’s the one with blood on their hands?
There’s so much blood on Planned Parenthood’s hands, it’s unfathomable. All the while, the only thing they seem to care about is keeping those hands in the cookie jar of the state coffers. You would just think that they might have enough respect for the rest of us to back off when we point out to them that when they stick their bloody hands in the jar, the whole jar is contaminated for everyone else.
But there is another reason why it is especially ironic that this abortion activist would accuse the pro-life advocate of having blood on his hands, considering that less than a year ago, an abortion center in Fairfax had its license revoked by Gov. McAuliffe’s own Health Department after a 52-page report of health and safety violations found it to “pose a substantial threat to the safety of the patients and staff of the Virginia Health Group.” Included in that report was an observation that an employee was giving medication to a patient “while wearing gloves visibly soiled with blood”. The clinic never reopened.
We all know that Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups have blood on their hands. It’s just astonishing that they would have the audacity to insist that the rest of us be similarly stained by funding their horrific operations. Fortunately, their days are numbered. They must see the writing on the wall, or else they wouldn’t resort to such extreme tactics – like attempting to pass off their guilt on the very people trying to end their human carnage.
Opposing Campus Free SpeechJan. 31, 2017
To be sure, there are plenty of nuanced reasons for legislators to vote against bills that sound perfectly good on their face. As a general rule, it’s wise to be just a little suspicious of everything that seeks to clothe itself with the force and legitimacy of law. But occasionally, a bill comes along that appears to be magnanimous in every respect. Or, in laymen’s terms: “Ain’t nobody crazy enough to vote against that bill.”
Hypothetically speaking, these are bills like “Resolved, that ice-cream is delicious,” or “Resolved, that freedom is good.” Well of course ice-cream is delicious and of course freedom is a good thing. This is America, after all, and there are just some core principles that come standard-issued.
Monday, in the House Education Committee, Delegate Steve Landes (R-25, Verona) presented a bill that falls safely into this category. It seeks to reinforce campus free speech, presumably in response to the growing instances of colleges across the nation actively suppressing free speech with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” for those who wish to express a non-orthodox viewpoint. But the language is straightforward and inclusive, applying with equal force to people of all opinions.
HB 1401 reads, in its entirety:
“Except as otherwise permitted by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, no public institution of higher education shall abridge the freedom of any individual, including enrolled students, faculty and other employees, and invited guests, to speak on campus.”
Sounds reasonable enough, right? People on public university campuses ought to be able to exercise their constitutionally protected right of free speech. Could there be more of a “softball” bill for every politician to knock out of the park? Perhaps not, since five members (all Democrats) of the committee voted against it.
You’re kidding me, right? Nope. That really just happened.
From among the members voting against the bill, there was only one comment made. It was a question asking for clarification for the words “invited guests.” Delegate Landes responded by pointing out that it was to address the issue of guest speakers who are invited by student groups being prevented from speaking on campus – which, if you’ve been paying attention to the news, seems to be happening a lot these days, and it is almost always those speakers with conservative viewpoints who are targeted.
I’m not going to assign motives to these five Democratic members or draw any conclusions about why they voted the way they did. Since they never spoke up to express their reasons for opposing it, I can’t be sure why. But the facts of the matter are clear, and inferences could certainly be drawn thereupon. And none of them paint their party or its agenda in a very favorable light.
LG Celebrates Roe v Wade, Sort OfJan. 24, 2017
Admittedly, as a doctor, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam is probably not that well-versed in constitutional law. But as the presumptive Democrat nominee for Governor, one would hope he’d have some clue as to what issues Supreme Court decisions are about – particularly since he, as a pediatric neurologist, often claims the “moral” high-ground when it comes to “women’s health.”
Now, it isn’t at all surprising that on Sunday the Lt. Governor sent out an email celebrating the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that imposed abortion on the states. He obviously doesn’t believe that 60 million abortions are nearly enough. He opens his email by saying:
That’s a pretty strong claim in and of itself, but still, it’s standard stuff for someone who champions taking the lives of unborn children with all the vigor they can muster. But then his email gets a bit, well, awkward.
You see, nowhere in the entire email does the Lt. Governor (oh, and did I mention he’s the presumptive Democrat nominee for Governor?) ever mention abortion, you know, the thing Roe v. Wade was about. Predictably, he uses the euphemism “women’s health,” but even there, he goes off on why he thinks you should be forced by the government to pay for the contraceptives of others, in particular, “long-acting, reversible contraceptives (LARCs).”
Now, that may be all well and good, except for the fact that Roe doesn’t have anything to do with contraceptives. That issue was decided a decade earlier in the Griswold v. Connecticut case. To be fair, the Court used the Griswold case as a building block for Roe, but still, one would hope that the LG could keep the two Supreme Court cases straight. Then again, based on his (and other “progressives”) hysterical claims that those dastardly Republicans are somehow going to take away birth control – despite Griswold – maybe he is completely unaware that the Court decided the issue half a century ago.
Or, perhaps he inadvertently just admitted that many “LARCs” are abortifacients that end life at the very start?
Regardless, the LG probably isn’t too worried about these kinds of details. The people he’s emailing are likely disinterested in facts, accuracy, truth – all those silly things that we once at least pretend we wanted in our candidates. As long as he’s okay with adding to 60 million abortions, he's got their vote.
The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
"...the schools people go to..."Jan. 23, 2017
If I hadn’t been reading carefully, I might have missed it. After all, reading anything the Washington Post prints is painful enough, and the temptation is to skim. But in an article today about how Democrats plan to rebuild a party that faces minority status at every level of government – including many state legislatures – came an extraordinary admission.
In the article, Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, argues that if the party wants to take back power, it first must focus on winning back state legislatures, because:
Did you catch it?
In a list of priorities that Democrats believe they must control to gain back power that includes obvious mechanics like “voting rights” and “congressional districts,” Post adds “the schools people go to.”
Anyone who has been around the General Assembly long enough knows that if there is one thing progressive liberals fear perhaps even more than losing the “right” to kill their unborn children it’s this – losing the power to control where your children go to school. You see, right now, for the overwhelming majority of families the state (state and local governments) determines where kids go to school, by zip code. Few have the resources to escape. Progressive liberals know that if they can keep your children confined to their schools with their agenda and their ideology, many will fall prey.
That’s why they are so adamantly opposed to any and all forms of education freedom. While they argue that school choice will “cost public schools resources,” etc., the truth is they fear losing control over your children. Ms. Post’s statement shows that the Democrat party has made the connection – whoever controls the education of our children eventually controls the halls of power.
It’s fitting that such an admission took place at the start of National School Choice Week. The battle to free our children from a government controlled, zip code based, antiquated education system is perhaps one of the most important of our generation. From tax credits for donations to scholarship programs for low and middle-income families to virtual schools to education savings accounts, whatever the mechanism, school choice is the battle for the future.
Nasty WomenJan. 23, 2017
When I was a kid, I was the good girl type. Until one day, I got busted in class passing notes with cuss/crass words on them back and forth with a boy. Candidly, I didn’t know what the words he used meant… but he was cute.
When I got a little older, I knew if I said one of those “bad” words, I was doing something rebellious. Sometimes my friends and I would bust them out just to feel grown up. They were “adult words” but truth be told, they weren’t even words the adults around me used. The adults in my world had nothing to prove. The adults in my world had wide vocabularies and class. They could fully express themselves and talk about adult subject matter and still maintain refinement.
The thing about vulgarity is that for most people, the novelty wears off when we grow up. The use of these words proves nothing except possibly that we lack the creativity and class to have conversations of substance and meaning.
I fear that much the same principle applied to those that attended the misnamed “March for Women.” Given everyone appeared to be angry for different reasons and the march itself had no centralized purpose, it left a void that vulgarity filled. Sign after sign used words and images that should make us cringe. Rather than symbolizing some liberation of women, it should embarrass us. Does it represent our gender to be unable to express our specific, legitimate concerns with this administration with civility? I get that our new President hasn’t exactly set a high bar in this arena. I just find it odd that those that dislike him so much gladly follow him into the gutter.
Rather than organizing an anti-Trump rally, organizers tried to make it the summation of what it is to be a woman. The only problem with that plan is that in today’s gender-confused society, it’s very hard to describe what it is that makes one a woman. If visuals in D.C. yesterday are any explanation, womanhood comes down to the existence of a uterus and the ability to kill the next generation of girls. This left the march with conflicting messages because on the one hand, it is the uterus that defines “womanhood,” but on the other hand, even a uterus doesn’t guarantee your exclusive stake on a women’s locker room or shower room.
Ultimately, this left a march celebrating the taking of human life, sporting Cecil Richards as Grand Marshall. Pro-life women knew this all along because we were shut out of the march, even though we have uteruses too.
Organizers and attendees alike were thrilled with the turnout but I suspect, deep inside, they just wish the majority of white women had turned out for Hillary, not Trump in November. Because it is in fact women, defined somehow, that handed Trump the Presidency in the first place.
A Day of Ups and DownsJan. 20, 2017
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Education and Health killed an attempt to deregulate abortion centers in the state. The bill would have nullified the hard-fought for health and safety standards initiated by a 2011 law this bill sought to undo. Thankfully, the committee voted it down 8-7, on a party-line vote.
The patron of the bill and those who spoke in favor primarily pointed to last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt to essentially claim that holding abortion centers to high standards of health and safety is “unconstitutional.”
Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax) asked the patron why the Senate should take any action when the watered-down health and safety regulations passed last October by the state Board of Health have been sitting on the Governor’s desk for 41 days with no action (i.e. his signature). In other words, if watering down the health and safety regulations on abortion centers is apparently not a priority even for this Governor, what does that say about the urgency (or the constitutionality) of eliminating the regulations?
For that matter, what was the urgency for the Board of Health to spend thousands of dollars to schedule a “special meeting” just to ram through those amendments? Now 87 days later, we are all still waiting. No one could provide an answer.
The Family Foundation spoke to the Committee to address the constitutional question, pointing to Attorney General Mark Herring’s own guidance letter which stated that is was merely “possible” that the regulations could be “subject to a constitutional challenge” and that the Board of Health has “discretion” to determine whether they think something is unconstitutional or not.
Also on Thursaday, a House General Laws subcommittee passed The Family Foundation’s top religious liberty priority, a bill that would protect religious charities and schools from being discriminated against by state government because of their beliefs, speech and actions regarding marriage. This proposal, which passed last year but was vetoed by the Governor, would be a roadblock to his recent anti-faith, anti-freedom Executive Order 61 that allows the state to punish those who differ with his personal views on marriage by denying those entities contracts. The proposal, patroned by Delegate Nick Freitas (R-30, Culpeper) should be heard by the full committee early next week.
The subcommittee also defeated legislation that would have elevated sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) to a protected class. This proposal has been used to weaponize government against businesses that choose to not participate in same-sex weddings, such as bakers and photographers.
Unfortunately, the same subcommittee defeated legislation that would have protected the privacy, safety and dignity of our school children in public school locker rooms, showers and restrooms. Subcommittee members said they wanted to defer action until the U.S. Supreme Court makes a decision in the case out of Gloucester county later this Spring. Of course, because the narrative that such legislation is “bad for business” and “unwelcoming” has been set by the same media people claim to not believe the bill’s fate was sealed long before today. Too few are willing to stand up to the narrative with the truth.
Quite frankly, if the legislature had passed similar legislation last year before the controversy in North Carolina erupted, providing a convenient narrative to kill this year’s bill, lawmakers might have avoided some of the hyper-hysteria the media and progressive left generated on this year’s bill. But this fight is far from over, as the dignity and safety of our children can’t be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
Another DreamJan. 17, 2017
Driving by the local abortion center at 8 am yesterday, I noticed the parking lot was packed. My first thought was, “how sad.” My second thought was, “So that’s what all these folks decided to do with their holiday?” And then it hit me. This holiday? Today? On Martin Luther King Jr. day, the abortion center is packed.
Even if our nation somehow overcomes all the other horrific racial divides and injustices that still exist, even someday should Black Lives Matters have no unmet objective, as long as abortion on demand continues, King’s dream will continue to be just a dream, an unrealized potential. The dream he had was not to see all these women ending the lives of their unborn.
King’s Dream was that our society would recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, regardless of race.
Abortion is the exact opposite. Abortion, preying more aggressively in the minority communities, whispers to mothers that their child does not have worth. Abortion tells mothers that they are not worthy of the support their families and communities could give them during their pregnancy and later as a single mom. Abortion tells men that they don’t have what it takes to support their offspring.
My feminist friends attempt to downplay the beliefs of Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, while applauding Planned Parenthood; however, its origins and continuing disproportionate impact on minorities can not be overlooked. Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life, has been quoted saying “Sanger was an elitist, racist advocate of limiting, and even eradicating, those she deemed unworthy of life. She wrote of ‘weeding out the unfit,’ of preventing the birth of defectives or those who will become defective.” While no longer the stated mission of the organization, today, in the black community, there are still approximately 483 abortions for every 1000 live births.
So, on MLK day, like each day I see cars in the parking lot of the abortion center, I pray:
Lord, let each woman parked here get a glimpse of someone, a friend, a family member, a faith leader, who could help support her in her time of crisis.
Lord, let the fathers of these children rise up and tell these moms they will be there for this new family.
Lord, may these mothers sense the beauty and potential encapsulated in the life they carry.
Lord, grant each woman the moment of courage they need to stop a plan in motion they will regret.
Lord, don’t let abortion continue to devastate the black community.
Defining Our Own RealityJan. 17, 2017
The entire "transgender" movement rests on the proposition that a person can define his or her (or "ze") own reality, and that society should recognize and yield to that conception of reality at all times in all places. It appears to be yet another unwieldy extension of the Supreme Court's infamous declaration in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (upholding Roe v. Wade) that "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
Fine then, if those are the rules, two (or more) can play this game.
You can be free to define your reality by feelings, emotions, and personal experiences, as long as I am free to define my reality with biological facts, logical reasoning, and a belief in objective truth, both physical and spiritual.
For the sake of this experiment, I'll concede that your "gender" is something altogether different than your sex, and that you should be entitled to be treated as your preferred gender in every way - in bathrooms, showers, restrooms, the use of preferred pronouns, etc.. I guess if "perception is reality", then self-perception must be the ultimate reality.
Alright, now it's my turn. You have to accept that there are only two sexes - male and female - as evidenced most obviously through biological and anatomical differences, that "gender" is simply another word for biological sex, that humans were created by God as either male or female, that one's sex is immutable, and that in recognizing the profoundly unique differences between the sexes, society should honor their privacy and dignity with separate locker rooms, showers and restrooms. After all, in this game, I have an equally valid right to others' respect and official recognition of my reality.
Sounds fair enough, right?
Oh wait...except for the fact that it doesn't work at all. (Yes, I know that we BOTH innately recognize the objective "law of non-contraction" here.) That's because the realities we've "created" are in direct conflict with one another. Together they present an irreconcilable contradiction such that, no matter how hard we try, there can be no peaceful coexistence. One conception of reality will eventually succumb to the other - you can bet your next group therapy session on it.
I wish this weren't so. I really do. Wouldn't it be nice if we could "all just get along" in a world in which we each define what's real to us and then expect everyone else to live by the rules we create? Sounds pleasantly warm and fuzzy to me. Yet we all know such a place does not exist, nor could it ever. In case you had forgotten, this is precisely why we fight so fiercely over laws and public policies. We know that only one reality can prevail and that we'll have to conform our behavior to it.
The question we must answer then is: Whose reality will prevail? Will we decide that reality is defined by some person's feelings, emotions, or experiences? Will we decide to define reality by what we can see, touch, and perceive through our faculties of logic, reason, and common sense? Will it be some combination of these or some other standard altogether?
I think I know which conception of reality should prevail. But one thing I know for certain: this business of defining one's own personal reality is as nonsensical as it is untenable. We don't get to define reality, but we nevertheless have choices. We can either acknowledge its existence and align our behavior accordingly, or we can ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist until invariably it hits us like a ton of bricks.
Day of TearsJan. 16, 2017
There is little doubt that millions of Americans mourn abortion. Polling shows that the public is split on the issue, so it's not a stretch to conclude that a large percentage of us are in the very least troubled by and often times repulsed by the idea of taking the life of an unborn child.
This year, Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), at the request of a Virginia non-profit, has introduced a House Resolution that would simply encourage Virginians to fly their flags at half-staff on January 22, the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that forced abortion on our country, calling it the “Day of Tears”:
Simple, yet profound. No requirement, just a statement of encouragement.
Not surprisingly, the “progressive” secular left is appalled at the thought that Virginians might be appalled at the killing of unborn children. Testifying against the resolution in committee today, the representative from something called “ProgressVirginia” worried that such a resolution might “shame” those who have had abortions.
Now, never mind that it’s highly doubtful many people outside of those pro-lifers who choose to do this will know what it’s about. Perhaps it will encourage some conversations when someone asks their neighbor why their flag is at half-staff, leading to some hearts and minds being changed. Hopefully, as more people become aware of this campaign, pro-life Virginians will see that there are many others who share their belief that abortion should not be celebrated but mourned. Certainly, there’s no intent to shame anyone.
What is troubling, however, about the opposition’s argument against the resolution is that it is not far from saying that any speech that condemns abortion could cause someone to feel bad and is, therefore, suspect and should be prohibited. We’ve seen this in Europe already, and there’s little doubt that the progressive left in this nation would like nothing more than to silent its opposition, particularly those who believe the science that shows life begins at conception. This is not just a threat to the profit of the $1 billion abortion industry, but a threat to one of the pillars of the secular left’s entire worldview – that life has no value outside of what the majority assigns it.
Republicans on the committee quickly advanced the resolution, which should be voted on by the full House of Delegates in the next day or two. Sadly, while we expect the resolution to pass the House, it’s likely to end up being a party line vote. Long gone are the days where Democrats were allowed to vote their conscience on such an issue.
Regardless, we at The Family Foundation hope that you will join others this Sunday by lowering your flag to half-staff. It’s an opportunity to express your mourning for the loss of nearly 60 million children and to elicit conversation about the humanity of unborn life, something the progressive left fears maybe most of all.
Economic Reality CheckJan. 12, 2017
Imagine for a moment you lived in a state:
- That has created over 300,000 new jobs since 2013, including over 30,000 net new jobs since April 2016
- That has seen unemployment decline from 10% to 4.9% (under the national average);
- That has a $425 million budget surplus (not a deficit of over $1 billion);
- That has improved its ranking in CNBC's best states for business in 2016, jumping from #9 up to #5;
- Was named by Forbes Magazine the second best state for business in America for the second year in a row in 2016;
Sounds pretty good, no?
Then you better move to North Carolina.
That’s right, the state the hysterical left – including our own Governor – is painting as being on economic life support is actually doing just fine. In fact, it's doing better than the Commonwealth in several key economic areas – including job growth – as it’s rankings in key surveys from CNBC and Forbes indicate. North Carolina's unemployment rate dropped seven-tenths of a percent over the year, the fourth-best improvement in the nation, while Virginia's has recently inched up. Forbes ranks Virginia the sixth best state for business, a decline from past years and behind NC.
And all this is happening despite the fact that – hold on – North Carolina would prefer men use men’s restrooms and women use women’s restrooms.
Even if you buy the argument that North Carolina’s effort to protect the safety, dignity and privacy of women and children has had a negative effect on its economy, the state is still doing better than Virginia in many ways!
The hysteria from the media, political class and pseudo-conservative bloggers over legislation before the Virginia General Assembly regulating bathroom use in government buildings (i.e. public schools) was as swift as it was predictable. The belief in an underlying reality that biology and DNA matter and that common sense dictate that no one should expect young school girls to be exposed to members of the opposite sex in school showers and locker rooms are now labeled bigotry, hateful and worse than all – bad for the economy.
Of course, this is politics in Virginia, so the narrative being forced on us by a mainstream media no one is supposed to believe any more will likely win out over objective reality. But reality is something different, regardless of what the media and political class are telling you.
Another Victory in the "Bathroom Wars"Jan. 12, 2017
Late Tuesday evening, the Loudoun County School Board wisely chose to follow the recent examples of its two neighboring counties - Fairfax and Prince William - by rejecting an attempt to elevate "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to a protected class.
Privacy, safety and sanity prevailed again - but barely. (The Board voted down one version 5-4 and a similar proposal 6-3)
After the Board's last meeting, where the proponents of policy showed up in force, The Family Foundation helped mobilize concerned citizens to contact their members and to attend last night's meeting where the Board was to vote on the proposal. Many of them bravely addressed the Board during the public comment time including a pastor, a priest and plenty of concerned moms and dads. After learning that the ACLU of Virginia sent the Board a misleading letter to pressure the Board into adopting the dangerous amendments, we delivered a letter drafted by our staff attorney to the Board members explaining to them what the law actually says.
And thankfully, at the end of the day, a majority of the Board heeded that advice, concluding that they did not have the legal authority to create new classes in their nondiscrimination policy. Or, at a minimum, that they should wait for further guidance from the state and federal Supreme Courts, both of which have pending cases before them involving this very issue.
In doing so, the Board (for now) has chosen to protect the safety, privacy and dignity of school children, teachers and staff in locker rooms, showers and bathrooms.
Loudoun County is now the third major Virginia school district in the past six months alone where The Family Foundation has helped ensure these misguided and unlawful policies were defeated. Hopefully now, there's been a clear signal to every school division across the Commonwealth that they had better think twice before attempting to make our school children a pawn for their social agendas.