Here is an update to our earlier post and analysis and action item from the Family Foundation regarding the pro-life amendment submitted by Gov. McDonnell to the state budget which the General Assembly will consider and vote on again on April 21, 2010.
Governor Bob McDonnell amended (on April 13) the FY 2011-12 state budget to prohibit taxpayer funding of most elective, low-income abortions. The Family Foundation and several of our pro-life partners in Richmond have been advocating for just such an amendment for several years. The amendment brings Virginia substantially in line with federal law that requires we pay for abortions in the instances of rape, incest or life of the mother. To fully restrict Virginia to only those abortions required by federal law, Virginia will have to eliminate funding for abortions where physicians certify that the unborn child’s physical deformity or mental deficiency will be totally incapacitating.
Prior to this amendment, Virginia has been one of only 17 states that funds elective (“health” of the mother) abortions.
Now, the General Assembly must accept the Governor’s amendment at next Wednesday’s veto session. During this year’s General Assembly session, a similar amendment was passed by the House of Delegates but was not voted on in the Senate. Radical pro-abortion Senate budget negotiators made sure it wasn’t included in the final budget.
And that is really where the battle lies. Regardless of what actions are taken by the Governor, the state Senate has been the body that has blocked nearly every pro-life effort for several years. Over the next week we will be mobilizing citizens across Virginia to contact key Senators to make sure they know the citizens of Virginia want this amendment passed. In fact, we wouldn’t need the Governor to introduce pro-life amendments at all if the state Senate would pass budgets that include such language. It is clear that it will not be until the state Senate reflects the values of Virginia that we will see these victories. The opportunity to make those changes is quickly approaching, as all 40 Senate seats are up for election in 2011.
Unfortunately, the Governor chose not to introduce budget amendments this year that would defund Planned Parenthood or embryonic stem cell research.
So, did we win or did we lose?
I was asked that question yesterday by a reporter regarding the Governor’s decision not to amend the state budget to forbid funding of Planned Parenthood. As you are aware, such an amendment has been and continues to be one of The Family Foundation’s highest priorities.
Interestingly, in the several years since The Family Foundation first exposed the issue of taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the amount of money flowing to that radical group has decreased. It is our understanding that there is only one unfunded contract in place and it will soon expire.
If correct, this means when The Family Foundation does its annual research regarding funds directed to Planned Parenthood and its subsidiaries for any reason, it should read $0. However, without budget language, funding can begin at any time. Consequently, the Governor will have to ensure that his administration continues to fulfill his campaign promise and make sure that no taxpayer dollars go to Planned Parenthood each year of his term. While the Governor chose not to do a budget amendment at this time as we would prefer, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Ultimately, the goal has always been to protect the taxpayer.
We still believe the best safeguard for taxpayers is to have a budget amendment specifically defunding Planned Parenthood, rather than asking taxpayers to rely on a promise. We will continue to hold the Governor accountable by checking each year to make sure that no state funds flow to Planned Parenthood.
In addition, we thank the Governor for amending the Planned Parenthood license plate bill to ensure that no money from the license plates will ever be used to fund an abortion. Given the Senate’s unwillingness to remove Planned Parenthood as the recipient of the plate funds, the Governor’s amendment was the second best option. But, now that it appears Virginians will be able to fund Planned Parenthood by “choice” through the purchase of a Planned Parenthood license plate, there is even more reason to ensure that they do not get budget money.
Finally, we must continue to fight for a total ban in the budget on state funding for embryonic stem cell research. Although The Family Foundation has had 100% success ensuring that no new bio-tech funds or research tax credits are created without a ban, without a budget amendment, universities still have license to destroy embryos in the name of research. Universities have refused to acknowledge that they are doing this controversial research and thus the Governor determined an amendment may be premature. Expressing our disappointment with the administration, we have been assured that the Governor shares our concern on this issue, will investigate what is currently being funded and will take appropriate action.
For this week, we must put our time, energy and resources into the amendment he did introduce to stop most low-income elective abortion. This would be a tremendous victory in and of itself. To do this, we will need your help.
We believe the key to sustaining the amendment lies with five key legislators: Senators Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell). Contact these legislators today and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell’s elective low-income abortion amendment.
You can contact them by email by clicking the link below or by phone:
Senator Quayle: 757-483-9173
Senator Watkins: 804-379-2063
Senator Reynolds: 276-638-2315
Senator Colgan: 703-368-0300
Senator Puckett: 276-979-8181
ACTION: Please contact these five Senators immediately and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell’s elective low-income abortion amendment. Thank you!