When the General Assembly session closed Sunday, Planned Parenthood ended up one of the session’s biggest winners. Despite efforts in the House of Delegates to deny it from benefiting financially from a “pro-choice” license plate, a conference committee recommended that it should, and the legislation easily passed both chambers Saturday. While license plates usually pass the assembly with few “no” votes, there were several members in each chamber who simply would not vote for a bill that benefited Planned Parenthood. Now this omnibus license plate bill goes to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature, veto or amendments.
In addition, the General Assembly yesterday sent a state budget to the governor’s desk that does not prohibit taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. It also does not include prohibitions on taxpayer funding of failed embryonic stem cell research and low-income elective abortions. All in all, a good weekend for the nation’s billion-dollar abortion behemoth.
On the license plate, according to media reports, it appears that some in the legislature were intimidated by the ACLU’s threat to sue if Planned Parenthood didn’t get the money from the plate. Courts have ruled that if one viewpoint is allowed on a license plate (i.e., “Choose Life”) than the opposite viewpoint must be allowed (in this case, “Trust Women, Respect Choice”). Courts have not, however, ruled on the issue of funding from the license plates. Nowhere in this session’s legislative process was the message of Planned Parenthood’s plate an issue — except for some members who weren’t going to vote for the plate regardless of the courts! Instead, it always, as ever with Planned Parenthood, was about the money.
Unfortunately, once the Planned Parenthood plate was attached to legislation that included several other license plates, it was going to pass. Planned Parenthood and its cronies in the legislature were willing to allow every other license plate (including one that would fund a program that helps feed children) to be defeated in order to get their way. If pro-life legislators had held out, you can imagine the headlines: Anti-abortion legislators kill funding for children.
On the other hand, the General Assembly passed its FY 2011-2012 state budget. Considering the weeping and gnashing of teeth we’ve heard for the past several months over the growing “budget deficit,” it was amazing that the legislature finished its work just one day late. According to media reports, the two-year $70 billion budget takes the state back to 2006 spending levels. While we are pleased that the budget does not include any direct tax increases on Virginia’s families, we are disappointed that simple language protecting the taxpayer from funding unethical activities was not included.
Once again, Senate Democrats such as Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) and Janet Howell (D-32, Reston) were willing to put the entire commonwealth at risk by blocking a budget that included those protections. Just waiting for it to happen were headline writers and editorial page editors who would have ripped those legislators willing to stand on a pro-life principle.
But the battle isn’t over. These bills now await action by the governor. Over the next several days we will put together a comprehensive action plan for how you can make sure that your voice is heard — and heard loudly — during the veto process concerning the continued taxpayer funding of unethical activities by your state government.