Clerical error or not, Senate pro-abortion advocates had their way with SB 504, Senator Ralph Smith's (R-22, Roanoke) coerced abortion bill in the full Senate Courts of Justice Committee committee this afternoon. Despite a valiant effort by committee member Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) to hear the bill in the full Senate Courts committee, the ultimate result was a 9-6 vote to re-refer SB504 to Senate Education and Health and essentially assure its demise. Also noteworthy, were Senators Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville) for their vocal support of SB 504. Senator Reynolds stated that SB 504 has heard in sub-committee already and that this motion to re-refer the bill had come too late and was disrespectful of the sub-committee members' time and effort. He said that he was here to debate policy, not to waste time on bill re-referrals and game playing.

Senators Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) and Henry Marsh (D-16, Richmond) led the charge to re-refer the bill relying solely on "the rule" that no one until today has publicly cited stating that all pregnancy related bills must go to Senate Education and Health. This rule (which we now believe to be 18D) is what pro-abortion legislators have hid behind in order to prevent any pro-life victories. This one rule has single-handedly blocked the success of pro-life legislation!

However, SB 504 creates criminal and civil penalties for domestic violence cases in which the woman happens to be pregnant! Somehow the full Courts committee did not see fit to hear arguments on this form of domestic violence despite the fact that it would create new penalties and passed the buck to the Education and Health committee. The Clerk of the Senate, Susan Schaar, even made it to the committee room in time to watch the procedural shell game.

This blog post does not do justice to the events of today. Please visit our YouTube channel to see the video we captured of this illogical and hypocritical debate. I believe you'll find the most astounding part to actually be on the debate that follows SB 504. This debate revolved around SB 556, a bill that would add criminal penalties to crimes against incapacitated adults including those who are mentally or physically ill or disabled.

As Senator Obenshain points out, SB 556 and SB 504 have a great deal in common in that both are adding criminal penalties for specific groups of persons. SB 504 deals with pregnant women and SB 566 deals with incapacitated adults. Senator Obenshain, in keeping with the theme of the debate on coerced abortion, proceeded to make a motion to refer SB 566 to Education and Health citing Senate rule 18D which defines “disabilities” and puts this under the jurisdiction of Education and Health. This threw the committee for a loop and out came some absurd arguments in an attempt to differentiate SB 556 from SB 504. In the end, Senator Obenshain's motion failed and the incapacitated adults bill hypocritically remained in the Courts committee despite the committee's referral minutes earlier of the coerced abortion bill.

The Family Foundation would like to especially thank Senators Mark Obenshain and Roscoe Reynolds for their courageous efforts today to stand on the side of justice and for their passionate support of this pro-family bill. If there is one blessing in this whole escapade it is that, since this bill has never gone to the Senate floor, at least several more senators now have a recorded vote in favor of killing the coerced abortion bill.