Earlier today, much of the media celebrated a Senate Finance Committee unanimous vote to pass a budget as the special "budget" session of the General Assembly began in earnest. Before the citizenry gets too excited with anticipation of "peace in the valley," it was basically a pro forma vote. The Senate prides itself on its collegiality and, Democrats, having been routed in the public relations war over their unprecedented budget obstruction — they lost last November's election in districts they drew and still pouted that they didn't get the committee assignments they still expected — tactically retreated to tradition and precedent in order to re-frame the narrative. It was the first time a chamber failed to pass any version of a budget, much less its own, and get to a conference committee with the other chamber — and they did it twice in a couple of weeks during the regular session (see Norm Leahy at Bearing Drift). So, for this special session, kind of like a Mitt Romney Etch A Sketch (see YouTube), they want to return to ground on which they are more comfortable and on which the media has more fun: abortion. Namely, ultrasound. That's why, on Monday, when the new Senate budget gets to the floor, Democrats will offer an amendment to have state tax dollars pay for the newly required ultrasounds on women having abortions (see Washington Post).

But if they expect to dominate the discussion with misleading comments and disinformation, they may want to reconsider for fear of losing yet another round. The word is getting out and one doubts that as simple facts get disseminated widely, the commonwealth may experience a collective blush over what the big deal was. Primarily:

» No state that has an ultrasound law (about 30) funds them;

» The bill states that abortion centers must tell the women where free ultrasounds are available;

» Every crisis pregnancy center in Virginia offers them for free (and we know Senate liberals don't want pregnant women anywhere near a CPC); and

» Planned Parenthood even suggests, on its web site, that women seeking an abortion get an ultrasound.

As House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) told Jimmy Barrett this morning on WRVA's Richmond' Morning News, it may have taken Senate Democrats several weeks to feel the scorch pain they received on the obstruction issue, and paying for ultrasound is nothing more than a "red herring" that will "burn" them again. Even ardent national pro-abortion advocates are telling Virginia pro-aborts to pipe down, as Jill Stanek (our featured lobby day speaker) reports on her blog:

Abortion proponent Carole Joffe, professor at UCSF's Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, recognized the problem in a February 29 piece she wrote at Slate entitled,"Crying rape: Pro-choice advcoates should quit calling ultrasounds rape."

Wherein Ms. Joffe wrote:

But now that women have heard abortion supporters describe this form of ultrasound as "rape," will more of them be terrified when they arrive at a clinic and are informed they will have such a procedure? Or might they be scared off altogether? Will abortion clinic staff who perform the ultrasound be seen as “rapists,” as the provider I mentioned earlier worried? This is a possibility not lost on the anti-abortion website LifeNews, which recently ran the headline, "If Ultrasound is Rape, Arrest Planned Parenthood Staffers."

Talk about losing a PR war. It doesn't help to have your own shooting back at you. Even after the Senate floor amendments are disposed of, it still must negotiate with the House to reconcile the two chambers' budgets. Given pro-abortion senators' numbness to burn pain and adherence to pro-abortion doctrine, there won't be "peace in the valley" for a little while longer.

It took host Jimmy Barrett about 48 seconds to make the budget debate an ultrasound debate, which House Majority Leader Kirk Cox promptly dispatched and dissembled.