By Olivia Gans Turner President, Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL)This was a very busy week in Richmond for VSHL’s team. On Monday, January 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, VSHL staff and volunteers distributed red roses and a message about the significance of the day to every Member of the General Assembly and the Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor’s offices.
Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hartz for donating the roses.
Several pro-abortion bills came before committees in the Senate and the House of Delegates last week. The bills were attempts to dismantle the many protective pro-life laws that Virginia has passed over the years. These bills included attacks on the Women’s Right to Know Informed Consent law and Ultrasound provision. Other bills would have expanded funding for abortions with Virginia funds, and a bill would have allowed nurses or other non-doctors to perform abortions.
All these dreadful bills were defeated by votes along party lines by the Senate Education and Health Committee and the House Courts of Justice Committee. As President of VSHL, I provided comments in opposition at all the hearings.
Thank you to all of you who took a moment to contact your representatives about them. It is so very important that we keep up communication with elected officials.
The week ahead has more challenges.
On Tuesday there will be a vote in the Senate Health Professions sub-committee regarding SB 222, which is an attempt to address a glaring problem in our law. The current law allows a doctor to decide to stop providing life-sustaining treatment to a patient even if the patient or their advocate wants it to continue. From that point the patient or family has only 14 days to find other care.
VSHL staff and Board members were part of a two-year committee to try and fix this problem.
The proposed bill does provide certain protective remedies that would allow for legal action and ensures that nutrition and hydration can’t be removed, but it is not safe yet! The bill must be amended to ensure that vulnerable people are not denied treatment against their stated wishes due to age, disability or other conditions that may lead to arbitrary quality of life decisions.
Please contact the members of the Senate Ed and Health Committee on Monday to ask them to oppose it unless safely amended to include protection for vulnerable patients.
The following Senators serve on the Education and Health Committee: Newman (Chairman), Saslaw, Lucas, Howell, Locke, Barker, Black, Carrico, Petersen, Cosgrove, Lewis, Dunnavant, Chase, Suetterlein, Peake.
A version of this bill is also in the House of Delegates, so it is important to contact both your own Senator and Delegate, too ASAP.
Winter is a surprisingly busy time for prolife people. Working together with pro-life legislators we can do so much to protect helpless unborn children, their mothers and other vulnerable human lives.
One excellent example of new types of bills we are working to pass this year is the Perinatal Hospice bill, HB 1182 [Del. Dave LaRock, R, Chief Patron].
This simple bill will require that a website be set up by the Department of Health to share information about this new area of care. It will provide information about the growing number of compassionate programs that offer this type of special care to families in crisis when they are told their precious baby may not survive after birth. Currently, there are five such programs: in Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Portsmouth, and two in Richmond.
The bill will also require doctors to share information about perinatal hospice with patients so that they can possibly make a decision that does not involve an abortion late in pregnancy of a sick child and instead make a plan to care for both mother and child throughout the rest of the pregnancy and until baby passes away naturally.
Please ask your Delegate and Senator to support this sensible bill. Contact the General Assembly.
Finally, in Washington DC this week, there will be a vote on Monday in the Senate on the federal version of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. S. 2311 is identical to the bill passed last year in the House of Representatives. Please contact Senators Kaine (202-224-4024) and Warner (202-224-2023) and ask them to support this powerful life saving bill.