Thanking Our Pro-Life Allies For The Abortion Funding Ban Victory!Apr. 23, 2010
We hope you are still celebrating with us over the passage of the budget amendment that significantly reduces taxpayer funding for elective abortions in Virginia (Amendment #91)! This is a long-awaited milestone in our journey toward Virginia becoming the most pro-life state in the nation. While Family Foundation staff worked tirelessly for weeks to encourage Governor Bob McDonnell to introduce this pro-life amendment and then for the General Assembly to sustain it, we would be remiss if we did not recognize those who aided us in this fight. Please join us in thanking these important people in the pro-life movement.
First, if Governor Bob McDonnell had not introduced this elective low-income abortion amendment, there would be nothing to celebrate today. His stand on this amendment is commendable. Please click here to send him an e-mail of thanks or call him at 804-786-2211.
Even with the governor's introduction of the amendment, its passage would have been tenuous had there been no one to articulate the amendment's merits and stand in its defense on the Senate floor. Never one to back down from a fight, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) was the only senator willing to verbally support the amendment on the floor. Senator Obenshain's reasoned defense was crucial to the amendment’s passage and the retention of key swing votes. Please send Senator Obenshain an email of thanks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 540-437-1451.
Without votes, success is unattainable. While all votes were equally important, special thanks go to Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville) who, despite intense pressure from their party and Planned Parenthood/NARAL to tow the party line, voted their conscience and made a courageous stand for life. Additionally, thanks to all the delegates (64) and senators (20) of both parties who voted for this important pro-life amendment.
Special thanks goes to the Virginia Catholic Conference, Virginia Society for Human Life and the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists for working side by side with us in the days leading up to this important vote and for their tireless efforts yesterday, remaining with us and never leaving the capitol grounds from early morning until the end. Iron sharpens iron and we are thankful for their support. Along those lines, we would be remiss if we did not thank all of you who contacted the governor and key legislators throughout the past month. The governor and legislators listened — your voice was crucial to success.
But ultimately, thanks be to God for this miraculous legislative victory! God, like he did with Gideon’s army, whittled down the numbers on the ground to an illogical amount — the absences of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Forest) — so that in the end, success could only be attributed to the proper source — Him. Join us today in giving thanks to Him for this protection of life after decades of waiting.
Victory For Life: Dem Controlled Senate Agrees To End Taxpayer Funded Elective Abortions!Apr. 22, 2010
Late last night (after 9:00), life advocates achieved a significant policy and historic victory when the Democrat controlled Virginia Senate concurred with the House of Delegates on Governor Bob McDonnell's budget amendment eliminating elective, taxpayer funded abortions by a dramatic 20-19 vote (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)! Despite Icelandic volcanic eruptions, a pro-life senator's personal travel conflicts, and outright lies from pro-abortion legislative leaders and opponents, Virginia finally adopted provisions of the federal Hyde Amendment — enacted in 1982! — to de-fund state dollars from use in low-income, elective abortions. The Family Foundation and our pro-life allies have been working for decades to achieve this victory and, despite all odds, life triumphed. The amendment brings Virginia substantially in line with federal law that requires we pay for abortions only in the instances of rape, incest or life of the mother (see Washington Post). Prior to the governor's amendment, Virginia was one of only 17 states that funded elective ("health" of the mother) abortions. Other than in cases of "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or with a gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency," this will no longer be the case (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). We gratefully thank Governor McDonnell for introducing this important pro-life amendment and all the delegates and senators who voted for it.
Here's how it happened:
The day began early in the morning as legislators and lobbyists flooded the capitol. While confident of a win in the House, the Senate vote was on a knife's edge. That chamber is almost evenly divided politically (22 Democrats and 18 Republicans), but with two pro-life Democrats. A 20-20 tie with would be broken by pro-life Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. But in something not remotely seen in anyone's memory, the Lt. Governor was stranded in Italy, after completing an economic development mission last week, due to the well publicized volcanic ash cloud — and tie votes kill bills and amendments.
To make matters worse, pro-life Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Forest), had a flight to catch on personal business and as session dragged on through the afternoon — mainly on technical amendments on non-budget bills — it became apparent he would have to leave before the vote on the elective abortion funding amendment came up. Another vote had to be found.
Meanwhile, the House did its part during the afternoon by agreeing to the amendment 64 to 30 (see vote here). It received bipartisan support — about a fifth of Democrats voting voted for it, including those from rural, suburban and rural areas.
Back in the Senate, the amendment (technically, "Governor's recommendation #91") didn't come to the floor until 9:00 p.m. Majority Leader Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35, Fairfax) unloaded one of his typical "Saslawstic" comments, firing full bore against the amendment. In a bizarre statement, and in contradiction to a legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, opposition lawmakers claimed that if the amendment passed, state employee abortions would no longer be covered by the state health plan. But state employees cannot be reimbursed for abortion expenses anyway, so the claim is unfounded.
The one and only senator countering the deception was Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), who articulately defended the amendment from the bizarre attacks and argued brilliantly for its passage. Then, in a moment that directly parallels the Bible story of Gideon’s army, where the odds of victory were logically impossible, the vote was taken — and when the electronic board lit up, the total read: 20 yeas, 19 nays! Joining pro-life Democrat Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) was Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville) and the 17 Republicans in attendance. Long odds made longer with two key absences were overcome and the victory long sought by pro-life advocates was a reality (see vote here).
The Family Foundation would like to thank everyone who contacted legislators to encourage them to vote for this amendment. As the close vote shows, your voice was crucial in this success. We will post information in the coming days to assist you in thanking the important people who made this victory possible. In the meantime, we hope you will celebrate this monumental victory for life and truly meaningful change for the better.