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.
Governor Terry McAuliffe spent Thursday celebrating the fact that he’s proven to be the most obstructionist Governor in Virginia history.
Earlier this morning, Hillary Clinton’s top cheerleader went live on air with WTOP radio to veto bills (SB 2314/HB 2025) that would have provided modest protections for pastors, churches, and peaceful religious organizations and schools by prohibiting the state from discriminating against them because of their religious or moral beliefs about marriage.
The vast majority of Virginians, nearly two-thirds according to polling by Mason-Dixon, believe that, at a minimum, religious entities should be able to hold traditional beliefs about the institution of marriage without facing retribution from the government. But once again, Governor McAuliffe sided with the radical LGBT lobby and the ACLU in claiming that protecting the faiths of countless churches, religious schools and religious organizations amounts to discrimination and even going so far as to say it equates to “demonizing people”, according to his official statement. The Governor, of course, is all too comfortable with demonizing anyone who happens to disagree with him!
In reality, these bills would have ensured that a religious charity couldn’t be denied equal access to state benefits because of its belief in traditional marriage – something the Governor is trying to do through his Executive Order 61 – and that Virginia students who attend Christian universities or colleges like Liberty, Regent or Patrick Henry wouldn’t be denied access to Virginia’s Tuition Assistance Grants because those schools have policies based on marriage between one man and one woman.
His vetoes were a record 90th and 91st of his term, but sadly, he wasn’t done. This afternoon, he announced the veto of several bills that would have advanced parental rights and provided more educational opportunities for Virginia families.
The Governor proudly vetoed HB 2191, which simply would have provided parents of public school students an opportunity to review and opt their child out of materials they find sexually inappropriate. You may remember that a similar bill met with fierce opposition last year from the education cabal in Richmond as well as the secular “progressive) left. This year, Delegate Steve Landes (R-25, Verona) narrowed the bill to define “sexually explicit” simply as things that are currently against the law under the criminal sexual assault statute, but that still wasn’t good enough for the Governor.
In addition, he vetoed bills which would create a full-time public virtual school option for up to 5,000 new students in Virginia, allowing them to choose, with no tuition, from over a dozen approved education providers. He also vetoed two bills that would allow two or three school districts to band together to form a regional charter school district where each district would have to have at least 3,000 enrolled students and at least one school that failed to be accredited for at least two of the previous three years.
The Governor once again sided with the antiquated, failing, one-size-fits-all education establishment against families and children who want more options and the freedom to choose the school that best fits their needs.
The reality: elections have consequences. Virginians have the opportunity to correct the McAuliffe error later this year. Advancing the values we cherish, like religious freedom, life and education freedom require a governor who not only shares our values but has the courage to fight for them. Four years of Terry McAuliffe’s contempt for the beliefs of a majority of Virginians are enough.
Gone But Not Soon Forgotten
Gone But Not Soon Forgotten
On Saturday, the General Assembly wrapped up its 2017 legislative session, one that saw some surprises, some wins, some losses, and some very big changes.
Amidst final action on dozens of bills on Friday and Saturday, the House of Delegates, unfortunately, failed to override Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of legislation that would redirect some taxpayer funds away from Planned Parenthood to real, comprehensive health care clinics. The vote predictably fell short of the two-thirds of the 100 members required to override a veto, something that hasn’t happened during Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Remarkably, a day earlier, the Governor listed protecting Planned Parenthood as a top priority, ahead of feeding starving children and ending the Opioid epidemic. Such is the case for someone whose few accomplishments in four years includes propping up the abortion industry.
Earlier in the week, the House of Delegates put the finishing touches on a resolution that could significantly rebalance power in Virginia government from unelected bureaucrats back to the people’s elected representatives where it truly belongs. By a vote of 52-46 the House, and 21-19 the Senate approved HJ 545, patroned by Delegate Chris Head (R-17, Roanoke). The House majority was supplied by 51 of the 66 Republicans and one Democrat, while the Senate vote was party line.
The resolution would allow the General Assembly, by a majority vote in both chambers, to repeal a regulation by a state government agency. A version of this proposal has been introduced from time to time over the last dozen years or so, but has never even reached the Senate floor.
In order for the resolution to go on the ballot for voters to ratify or reject in November 2018, it must be adopted by both chambers in the exact same language again next year, when a newly elected General Assembly convenes. No gubernatorial action is required.
The legislature also completed work on budget amendments for the final year of the biennium budget. The $107 billion budget includes language fought for in previous years that prohibits taxpayer funding of low-income abortions except in cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is at risk, along with funding abortion of unborn children with severe disabilities. Efforts to remove the disability abortion funding failed, but several budget negotiators were appalled at information we gave them showing that the number of disability abortions has more than doubled per year since Terry McAuliffe became governor, and committed to working on this in the next budget, when we have a new (and hopefully pro-life) governor.
In the coming days, we’ll be sending you several action alerts, urging you to contact Governor McAuliffe on bills that have reached his desk, including those that protect the religious charities from government discrimination, give more choices and information to parents regarding education, and protect free speech on college campuses.
This year’s session was also the last that will be held in the current General Assembly Building, commonly called the “GAB.” The decades-old structure, a hodgepodge of several buildings joined together, will be torn down in the coming year and replaced. During the four-year project, the legislature will move to the Pocahontas Building, which sits directly across Main Street from our office. Logistics for next year will be new for everyone, and many questions will remain unanswered until the legislature arrives in January. Regardless, we’ll keep you informed and seek your engagement wherever and whenever the General Assembly meets!
Finally, perhaps the biggest news out of Richmond in the final weeks was the retirement announcement of Speaker of the House Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg). Speaker Howell has been at the helm of the Republican House caucus for fifteen years, a time during which the Republican majority in the House grew, and we saw great success in our legislative agenda. Upon his announcement, House Republicans quickly confirmed that Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) will be the next Speaker, and Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) will become Majority Leader. Delegates Cox and Gilbert are both previous Family Foundation Legislator of the Year award recipients and have worked with us on many legislative priorities over the years. We look forward to working with them in the future in their new roles.
Feed Planned Parenthood, Then the Kids
Feed Planned Parenthood, Then the Kids
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.
Family Foundation Announces Impending Legal Action
- McAuliffe Administration Notified Today -
RICHMOND–The Family Foundation of Virginia today announced that the administration of Governor Terry McAuliffe has been notified of impending legal action regarding violations of state law by the Department and Board of Health during the abortion center health and safety standards regulatory process.
“Over and over again during the nearly three-year process of amending the standards, the administration and Board violated the Administrative Process Act, the state law that provides the framework for regulatory action, the administrative code, and the Governor’s own Executive Order 17 regarding the regulatory review process,” said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation. “Regardless of one’s belief about the need for basic health and safety standards for abortion centers – or of any regulation for that matter – we all have to agree that a regulatory body cannot act outside the law when it wields extraordinary power over business, commerce and health care. We have the Administrative Process Act for that reason, to provide legal boundaries and process for unelected regulatory bodies, to provide transparency and public input throughout the regulatory process, and to be able to hold these agencies accountable when they go beyond the scope of their authority.”
Details of the administrative appeal were not released, but will be made available when the action is filed in Henrico Circuit Court within the next thirty days. The Family Foundation is paying the legal fees for one appellant in the appeal, Itzel Melendez, from Richmond. At a Richmond press conference today, Mrs. Melendez said, “In the past, I had occasion to visit an abortion center for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. I am participating in this case because I am concerned that without basic health and safety standards, abortion centers will operate in a way that could put my health at risk if I ever decided in the future that I needed their services. The standards that were in place were there to protect women like me from harm. Without them, I am no longer confident that my health would be protected.”
Cobb did reference one of the examples of where the pro-family organization believes the administration broke the law. She stated, “The agency violated the Administrative Process Act by amending entirely separate and unrelated regulatory sections that had not been included in the regulations’ “Proposed” phase. Several regulatory sections amended by the Board were not included in the “Proposed Regulation Agency Background Document” posted in townhall.gov, and these regulatory sections dealt with matters the public did not have an opportunity to comment on in accordance with the requirements of the law.
“In addition, several regulatory sections the Board amended were not even in the agency’s “Final Regulation Agency Background Document” posted in townhall.gov, let alone its “Proposed Regulation Agency Background Document”. The Code of Virginia requires that the notice requirement contain “(i) a statement of the date, time and place of the hearing at which the regulation is to be considered; (ii) a brief statement as to the regulation under consideration; [and] (iii) reference to the legal authority of the agency to act; ….” Yet, that never occurred for all of the regulatory topics for the sections that were not included in the agency’s “Proposed” regulations. This is an important matter of transparency – providing to the public a clear list what areas of regulation are intended to be reviewed and amended. The public and the entities being regulated should know from the beginning what areas of regulation the agency intends to change. By avoiding disclosing all the areas the Department and Board intended to amend they violated both the letter and spirit of the law.
“In this case, the Department and Board initially indicated they would review and amend only six areas of the regulations, and instead ended up changing more than 20. The public had no ability to weigh in on these changes until after the Board had already voted.”
Cobb said, “There is a specific, detailed, and yes sometimes cumbersome regulatory process that, whether we like it or not, is the law of Virginia. Without a framework, and without criteria and accountability for regulatory agencies, one can only imagine the damage that could be done in any arena by regulatory bodies.”
“The Family Foundation fully supports the actions taken by these appellants,” added Cobb. “It is unfortunate that the McAuliffe administration has in its ideological zeal consistently ignored or violated state law throughout this process, but it must be held accountable for those actions. The regulatory process has rules that must be followed. Again, this appeal is about that legal process and this administration’s ignorance of or disdain for that process.”
Appellants in the case who appeared at today’s press conference were Virginia Board of Health members Megan Getter and Henry Kuhlman, and Itzel Melendez of Richmond. The attorney representing Mrs. Melendez is Dan Carrell of Carrell, Blanton Ferris and Associates, Richmond.
Accountability for Abortion Centers: Six Years and Counting
Accountability for Abortion Centers: Six Years and Counting
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 includes 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.
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.