Update: Senate Delays Historic Pro-Life Vote Until Thursday, Don't Delay Contacting Your SenatorFeb 23, 2011
It's never easy to negotiate a straight road through the General Assembly. This year, even as many issues long ago were decided, a stunning development has presented us a monumental last minute vote — but even that's been pushed back a day. The Virginia Senate, after some debate today, put off until tomorrow a vote on the pro-life House amendment to SB 924. The bill, patroned by Senator Ryan McDougle (R-4, Mechanicsville), directs the Board of Health to create regulations regarding hospitals, nursing homes, and certified nursing facilities. However, Delegate Kathy Byron's (R-22, Lynchburg) floor amendment (read here) Monday tacked on abortion centers to the types of facilities to come under these regulations. Once the House of Delegates approved the amendment and then the bill, it moved back to the Senate which will have to approve or reject the amendment and the bill.
In effect, the new version of bill requires the Board of Health to create abortion center safety regulations — an initiative The Family Foundation has pushed for more than a decade. But pro-abortion lawmakers successfully negotiated a one-day delay in the vote, presumably to pressure two pro-life Democrats. The Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog reported today that Democrat Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) have committed to support the amendment. We're hopeful one more may come around as well. If the 18 Republican senators vote as a block, the addition of Senators Colgan and Puckett would result in a 20-20 tie, in which case Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling would cast the deciding vote. A pro-life advocate during his time in the legislature, Lieutenant Governor Bolling is likely to support the amendment.
During today's debate, opponents inaccurately portrayed the bill as forcing abortion centers to become hospitals with identical regulations. In fact, the bill as amended simply states that abortion centers are a type of hospital and that the Board of Health would have to promulgate regulations for this new classification of hospital, just as there are regulations for ambulatory surgery centers. It is likely that tomorrow pro-abortion legislators will pull out every procedural move in the book in an attempt to derail this monumental win for the pro-life movement. Simply put, any attempt to monkey with the process (for example, attempting re-refer to committee or declaring the amendment not germane) will be seen as a deliberate attempt to prevent passage of the amendment and in effect the same as a vote against the amendment. After years of waiting for this day, pro-life advocates deserve an up or down vote on abortion center safety on the Senate floor.
Pressure and parliamentary tricks. That's what the pro-abortion movement has come down to. Will it be enough to overcome what is right and the will of the people? Thank you to those who have already contacted their Senators to support this critical amendment. For those of you who have not yet done so, we urge you to do so immediately and affect this historic and monumental opportunity.