"Close The Window, Pull Down The Shade"Feb. 11, 2014
Earlier today, the Virginia Senate voted to pass SB 617, a bill to repeal the 2012 ultrasound update to the abortion informed consent law. The version of the story you'll probably hear is simply that the bill passed on a 20-20 vote with Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam breaking the tie in favor of the bill. What really happened though involves multiple votes, a win and then a loss and then another loss, procedural gymnastics, mistakes and tears. But worst of all, the silencing of one senator's conscience by the strong arm of his caucus. Let me back up though and tell you the whole story. Even before SB 617 passed out of the Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday, The Family Foundation met with lawmakers, lining up votes in favor of life and against SB 617. As today approached, we were cautiously optimistic that we had the necessary votes to defeat SB 617.
When the bill came up on the floor of the Senate, Senator Mamie Locke (D-2, Hampton) urged senators to vote on the side of John Stewart and Rachel Maddow and repeal this "shameful" law. Senator Locke quoted Family Foundation testimony given in committee stating that an ultrasound is a powerful "window into the womb" and referencing that testimony, she urged the Senate to "close the window, pull down the shade."
In other words: Do not, under any circumstance, show a woman a picture of the life she is carrying. Make no mistake — despite the opponent's rhetoric to the contrary — this bill is about hiding critical information from women.
After much debate, the vote was called and the bill failed, 18-22. The vote was party-line with the exception of Senator John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) who voted in favor of the repeal and Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Toddy Puller (D-36, Mount Vernon) who voted against the repeal. This vote line up struck us as odd because Senator Puller has never (in our recollection) voted pro-life. Sure enough, a few minutes later, she made a motion to reconsider the vote by which SB 617 failed to pass (this is a fairly common procedure when someone accidentally votes the wrong way). The bill's passage was reconsidered and the vote sudenly was 20-20 (Senators Colgan and Puller switched) and Lieutenant Governor Northam broke the tie in favor of the repeal.
Senator Colgan confirmed with media (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) and pro-life lobbyists alike that his vote switch was entirely accidental. He even filed a "yellow slip" in which the official record reflects that he intended to vote no (but that cannot change the outcome of a vote).
Because of Senate Rule 48a, a bill can only be reconsidered once. Therefore, Senator Colgan's mistake would stand unless unanimous consent to temporarily suspend the rule was given by the entire chamber to allow Senator Colgan to change his vote. Proving his sincerity, a very emotional Senator Colgan petitioned his Democrat caucus colleagues to give him unanimous consent to vote his conscience and right his incorrect vote. Senator Watkins, who was on the prevailing side, as required, made the motion to reconsider the vote, but it failed 37-1. The sacrificial lamb for the caucus, Senator Locke, voted no. Clearly, among Senate Democrat leaders, orthodoxy to the abortion industry took precedent over the conscience of even one of their own members. Senator Colgan was not allowed to vote his conscience.
But Senate Republicans were determined to allow Senator Colgan his voice. The next bill up for debate was a bill dear to the hearts of the Democrat caucus — a bill to increase the minimum wage. However, the bill needed unanimous consent for it to be moved to "third read" and properly before the Senate for a vote on final passage (a common procedure). Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) took to the floor to make the point that he could vote against the motion requiring unanimous consent and thus defeat the bill singlehandedly. Senator Norment impressed upon the Democratic caucus the inappropriateness of their stifling the conscience of Senator Colgan and reminded them that if the Republican caucus wanted to retaliate, that they had the perfect opportunity by singlehandedly defeating the minimum wage bill. Taking the high road, Senator Norment made his point and then encouraged the Republican caucus to be statesmen and not vote in a retaliatory fashion. However, the point was clear — the Democratic caucus had played dirty today and their shameful actions would not be ignored.
SB 617 will probably be heard next in the House Courts of Justice Committee where it will likely meet its demise (the same fate as a similar House bill, HB 1056). Senate Democrats are already claiming the "win" on the ultrasound repeal bill's Senate passage, conveniently ignoring that there were more members of the Senate today who opposed the ultrasound bill than supported it. It was only by mistake that it passed. Words cannot express the emotional roller coaster of today and the extreme disappointment felt when Senator Colgan was not allowed to vote his conscience. Please thank the 19 Republican Senators, Senator Puckett, and yes, Senator Colgan, for their principled stand for life.
On a positive note, SB 618, a bill to force taxpayers to subsidize abortions in Virginia's federally-mandated health exchange, failed to pass the Senate on a vote of 18-22 (Senators Colgan and Puckett joined the Senate Republican caucus to defeat the bill).
With Control Of The Senate At Stake, Over The Top Wexton Ad May Cause Blowback For DemsJan. 10, 2014
As control of the Virginia Senate continues to hang in the most precious of balances — Democrat Lynwood Lewis' lead dropped to nine votes over Republican Wayne Coleman earlier today during the 6th district special election's certification, which should trigger a recount (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) — a new controversy has emerged in 33rd Senate district special election (necessitated by the election of Attorney General-elect Mark Herring). There, Democrat Jennifer Wexton, who has a history of slash and burn campaign tactics, released a television ad comparing Tea Party members to rapists (see Washington Post). While it's shocking that a "tolerant" liberal would be so vile (yeah, right), Wexton may have done more damage to Democrat hopes than releasing an obnoxious ad that is nothing more than a typical campaign misstep. It may just blow up in her, and her party's, face.
First, it shows desperation in what should be a fairly safe Democrat district. The Dems need to hold on to Lewis' Hampton Roads-area victory and lock up the Northern Virginia seat as well to get to a 20-20 split in the Senate where Lieutenant Governor-elect Ralph Northam would be the tie-breaking vote.
More than that, though, it moves the conversation away from which party should control the chamber, which would favor the Democrats and motivate its majority in that district, to one about personality and proper senatorial demeanor. A lot of the 33rd is genteel horse country and the ad (below) blows the lid off the mainstream media contrived stereotype that conservatives are the brass knuckle, street brawler campaigners.
Left wing Virginia Senate candidate Jennifer Wexton thinks comparing Tea Party members to rapists is no big deal.
Now, some might say that liberal base voters won't mind an ad like this and, besides, what else are they going to do on election day? Of course, it wouldn't be Virginia politics if anything about this was straightforward. Running against Wexton is not only conservative Republican John Whitbeck, but former Delegate Joe May, another liberal and recently turned independent. That gives district liberals, turned off from Wexton, an outlet.
Compounding the controversy is Wexton's obnoxious unrepentance. In typical leftist fashion, she has created an evil straw man that she, simply, is standing up to. Her spokesman told the Post:
(GOP) charges(s) are ridiculous. The real outrage here is that both of Jennifer's opponents have voted for these types of laws that would have prevented victims of rape and incest from seeking quality health care or exercising the right to choose.
Seriously. That is the level of intellectual honesty that regularly emanates from the Left.
Nothing is ever for certain in politics, especially in the commonwealth. A January special election with the General Assembly in mid session makes it as murky as the James near Hopewell. But when the waters do clear, it may because of the self-inflicted blowback from Wexton's bomb.
Democrat Ticket Runs Smear Campaign, But GOP Seen As "Mean" . . . Cue Twilight Zone ThemeOct. 18, 2013
With unprecedented millions coming in from out of state left-wing groups and billionaires plowed into a non-stop, constant onslaught of vicious television attack ads, Terry McAuliffe has outdone any of the mischief he engineered for the Clintons as Bill's money man and Hillary's campaign chairman; more than any reputation he ruined directing Democrat campaigns as the DNC chairman; and even more than he's ever done in so many of his unethical business practices. Now his protege, Ralph Northam, the Democrat candidate for lieutenant governor is following in his lead. But unlike T-Mac, who at least dodges questions and avoids saying anything for fear of his unserious candidacy being found out, Northam actually brags about being brutish. Celebrating a huge influx of cash from the Democrat National Committee and other sources to put his negativity on the air across VIrginia, he telegraphed his upcoming television blitzkrieg with this comment:
Next week is going to be the worst week of E.W. Jackson's life.
Classy! Just what we like from our left wing friends. Meanwhile, the Mainstream Media has soured much of the public into labeling the Republicans as the party of mean. Go figure . . . .the whole world is turned upside down . . . I can hear the Twilight Zone music now.
If you have nothing to say about yourself . . .
But would the state's troopers, police, deputies and first responders, who belong to the Fraternal Order of Police, back someone as bad as Northam is making him out to be? Not likely. Both candidates had to be interviewed by the organization and the brave professionals who are entrusted with the duty to protect us don't suffer fools gladly. They don't suffer them at all. They're conclusion, at the same time Northam was giddy about his impending destruction of a man's reputation, was to endorse his Republican opponent, E.W. Jackson.
While Northam brags about destroying Jackson't reputation, the state's law enforcement community saw things in a much more serious light and endorsed the Republican.
The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
Tuesday Is Primary Day In VirginiaJun. 10, 2013
Tuesday is primary day in Virginia and several intraparty races will be decided in preparation for November's elections. Democrats will decide on their candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Senator Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) is facing off against former Obama administration appointee Aneesh Chopra for the nomination for lieutenant governor. Northam, who received a 25 on The Family Foundation Action's 2013 General Assembly Report Card, has the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and has been one of the abortion industry's most vocal apologists. Chopra, who served as Secretary of Technology for then-Governor Tim Kaine, has made public statements that are supportive of the abortion industry and abortion on demand, is supportive of elevating sexual behavior to a protected class, and opposes the "Tebow Bill" (see Blue Virginia). The winner of the nomination will face Republican E.W. Jackson in November.
Democrats also will decide their candidate for attorney general between Senator Mark Herring (D-33, Fairfax) and former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax. Herring, who received an 18 on TFF Action’s Report Card, also is an ally of the abortion industry in Virginia. Fairfax has made comments in opposition to Virginia's abortion center health and safety standards. The winner will face Republican Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) in November’s general election.
In addition to these two statewide nomination campaigns, there are several House of Delegates primaries in both parties. Follow this link to see if there is a primary in your district for either or both parties. In November, all 100 seats in the House are up for election.
As you know, The Family Foundation is restricted by federal law from endorsing any candidates for office and we do not participate in primaries for either party. Our goal is simply to keep you up to date on the elections that are happening and to ensure that you have the best information available on the candidates' stances on important values issues so that you can make an informed decision.
Attacks Continue On Pregnancy Care CentersDec. 07, 2012
Thursday morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in which Virginia resides, heard oral arguments in two cases from Maryland concerning the unnecessary and unconstitutional regulation of pregnancy care centers. The cases stem from regulations passed in Baltimore and Montgomery County, that require PCCs to post signs and have personnel tell clients that they don't perform abortions, among other things. Essentially, it is the government compelling people in their private conversations to say specific things, a blatant violation of first amendment freedoms, which is likely why the PCCs have won in every court case so far, including an earlier 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel in the Fourth Circuit. Attorneys for the PCCs said this would be a first of its kind violation of free speech if it's upheld in the courts.
But as we know in Virginia, the abortion industry's visceral hatred for anything that competes with its bottom line or offers an alternative to abortion is met with harassment and hostility. You may recall the effort by the abortion industry to regulate PCCs in Virginia just two years ago; an effort based on an "investigative report" by NARAL that was so void of fact or academic rigor that, after two hours of testimony by PCC leaders and clients, the patron of the legislation that would have regulated PCCs, Dr. Ralph Northam, a Democrat senator from Norfolk now running for lieutenant governor, asked that the subcommittee to defeat his own bill! How anyone can take NARAL's word on anything after that day is simply mind boggling.
But truth, facts and logic are no obstacle for the abortion industry. The mainstream media is so sympathetic to its cause that it can't bring itself to report about the bloody exam tables at abortion centers but is more than happy to complain that PCCs don't offer abortion. Consequently, these battles for life are bound to continue. In fact, PCCs are not health care facilities at all and don't do medical procedures, but offer counseling and support services, and referrals to doctors and medical facilities.
The cases should be decided by the court in the next eight to 10 weeks. The cases were heard "en banc," or by the full court, and those present didn't see any clear indication from all the judges on which way the case will go.
After the hearing, we were thrilled to co-host a brief luncheon with Americans United for Life for several of the attorneys involved in the case and pro-life advocates. As always, we are so very grateful to AUL and the Alliance Defending Freedom for their advocacy on behalf of life, and all their great work. We are honored to have such Godly and capable partners in this work!
Another Disaster Coming To VirginiaOct. 13, 2011
The joke going around in September, when President Barack Obama came to Richmond to tout his "jobs bill" on the heels of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Irene, was, "Great. Three weeks. Three disasters." Make it a fourth. The president is coming back to the Old Dominion next week, this time on a taxpayer-funded campaign trip (funded by Solyndra kickbacks?) right after the Democrat-controlled Senate killed his jobs bill this week (see Mike Brownfield at Heritage.org's The Foundry Blog) while also denying federal disaster aid to localities struck by the earthquake (just as a 3.0 aftershock as recorded last night damaging more buildings).
The president's trip is curious. He seems to be putting his own ego and prospects (as dim as they are) before his Virginia Democrat allies. Just as the vital General Assembly elections are coming into focus for thousands of voters and campaigns hit the homestretch, could there be any better rallying cry for the conservative base? We wonder how many Democrats will join the POTUS on stage? Phil Puckett? Ward Armstrong? Roscoe Reynolds? John Miller? Ralph Northam? Your president is calling!
Repeal Amendment Defeated, Property Rights On Hold In Senate P&EJan. 18, 2011
This morning, the Senate Privileges and Elections Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments voted 4-3, on a party line vote, against SJ 280, the Repeal Amendment. The proposed resolution would, if enacted through a constitutional convention called for by state legislatures, allow a super majority of states to repeal federal laws and regulations. Those voting against the resolution by Senator Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover) were Senators Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath), Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington), Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico) and Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk). Voting in favor were Senators Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), Ralph Smith (R-22, Botetourt) and Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach). Oddly, much of the debate by witnesses was between conservative groups. While many limited government advocates want to re-balance the federal structure between the states and the central government in Washington, D.C., others are concerned the constitutional convention the resolution calls for would open up a loophole to amend other areas of the constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights. However, there is a House version of the resolution, HJ 542, patroned by Delegate James LeMunyon (R-67, Chantilly) and backed by House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg), that should make it through the House, setting up a second round in the Senate.
Another important proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution, SJR 307, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain, (R-26, Harrisonburg), which would protect citizens' property from the dangers of eminent domain by state and local governments and public service companies, was carried over to next week. That gives property rights and limited government grassroots activists more time to contact members of this committee.
NARAL Brings Its Act Of Deception To A City Near YouJun. 07, 2010
Despite its humiliating defeat this past General Assembly session, in addition to its "academic" report getting mercilessly shredded by doctors, lawyers and experts in the field, NARAL is traveling the state this summer and fall to present its "Crisis Pregnancy Center Road Tour," and collect signatures from those who oppose Pregnancy Resource Centers. NARAL writes:
We’ll share the findings from our year-long undercover investigation of medically inaccurate and deceptive crisis pregnancy centers across Virginia.
"Medically inaccurate" and "deceptive"? Really? One example of PRC's supposed "medical inaccuracy" listed in NARAL's flawed report is as follows:
Twenty-four of the CPCs, regardless of the stage of development, called the potential zygote, embryo, or fetus a "baby." (p. 18).
"Medical inaccuracy?" That’s laughable.
During this past General Assembly session, NARAL spearheaded an effort to require PRCs, among other requirements, to put a sign on their doors that essentially say they are not health care facilities and do not provide abortions or contraception. It might as well have required PRCs to post directions to the nearest abortion center. Not long into testimony in a Senate sub-committee, at which The Family Foundation joined with pro-life allies as well as PRC directors, volunteers and clients to handily debunk NARAL's myths, Senator (and sub-committee chair and NARAL's handpicked patron) Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) saw the futility and inaccuracy in NARAL's PRC "investigation" and called for the defeat of his own bill. However, despite its embarrassing defeat, NARAL still does not accept the invalidity of its claims. It believes public opinion is on its side . . . hence, the road trip and petitions.
In related news, the Alliance Defense Fund filed an anti-discrimination claim a few weeks ago on behalf of a PRC against Montgomery County, Md. (The Maryland legislature recently passed a bill almost identical to the defeated Virginia bill backed by NARAL.) A similar case has also been filed in Baltimore. According to ADF:
[Montgomery County] basically tell[s PRCs they] have to post a sign saying that "we don’t have any medical professionals here, and the county recommends you go find a medical professional. They don’t impose any rule like that, of course, on abortion clinics, and they intentionally crafted this rule to exclude them.
Despite the potential legal ramifications and no solid, academic groundwork to stand upon, NARAL clearly intends to reintroduce this ludicrous bill at some point due to its road trip and petition effort. This is nothing short of bullying tactics by a large, partisan, political group against these non-political, non-profit organizations, which keep to themselves and help pregnant women looking for options and counseling during a difficult period. Once again, The Family Foundation will work to ensure the overwhelming defeat of any such bill. If you are interested in helping us fight to protect the Pregnancy Resource Centers against attacks from NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, then please click here. Thank you for standing with us in this critical effort!
Campbell County Mother Murders Newborn, Time For Virginia Senate To Act!Dec. 22, 2009
As we draw closer to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus, a story out of Campbell County has drawn outrage from across the nation, and reveals just how far we have fallen in our culture in defense of abortion on demand: A baby allegedly was murdered by its mother moments after it was born, but because the child was still attached by the umbilical cord, under Virginia law, it is not considered a "separate life." Thus, no charges will be filed. In the words of one investigator:
In the state of Virginia as long as the umbilical cord is attached and the placenta is still in the mother, if the baby comes out alive the mother can do whatever she wants to with that baby to kill it. She could shoot the baby, stab the baby. As long as it’s still attached to her in some form by umbilical cord or something it’s no crime in the state of Virginia.
The Family Foundation worked with Delegate Chris Jones (R-76, Suffolk) during the 2007 and 2008 sessions of the General Assembly to fix the law regarding a case where a mother shot herself in the stomach on the day her unborn child was due to be delivered. That legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Delegates (see new 2010 member contact information) on two occasions but was defeated both times in the Senate Education and Health committee.
These are the members of the Senate Education and Health committee who are so extreme in their defense of abortion that they voted against legislation that would make it a crime for someone to kill their child in this way: Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), Louise Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth), Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke), Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington), Maime Locke (D-2, Hampton), George Barker (D-39, Alexandria), Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk), John Miller (D-1, Newport News). Committee Chairman Edd Houck (D-17, Spotsylvania) did not vote on the legislation. (Click on the links to get their contact information. Click here to see our General Assembly Report Card on their votes.)
Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Lynchburg) and Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) will introduce legislation in the 2010 General Assembly session that once again will attempt to fix this "loophole" and make it a crime to murder a nearly born or newborn child. We must remember, however, that there are many in our General Assembly who, like our president, apparently believe it is perfectly reasonable for a mother to take the life of a newborn child if it protects the sacred "right" to abortion. How else can one explain their voting records? If we can’t fix this and protect the lives of those children born alive, God help us.
Now, here's an important, coincidental, side note to all this: A new policy in effect just this week by the Senate of Virginia (contact clerk, here) blocks all e-mail from non-constituents that come through action alert programs. We are reviewing the legality of this, but you can contact these senators by e-mailing, calling or faxing them directly. We hope you will do just that and urge them to support legislation during 2010 that will ensure that this type of murder does not happen again. When you do, please:
» Mention the Campbell county story; you could even include a news link.
» Remind them that they voted against legislation in 2008 (HB 1126) that dealt with similar circumstances.
» Tell them they will vote on legislation fixing this situation in 2010 and you expect them to vote in favor of it and will hold them accountable for their vote!