Virginia Pro-Life Bill Would Limit Abortion, Protect Pregnant Women

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Pro-Life Bill Would Limit Abortion, Protect Pregnant Women

by Paul Nowak Editor
January 22, 2004

Richmond, VA ( — The Family Foundation of Virginia, a pro-life group, is supporting three pieces of legislation this session — an unborn victims of violence bill, a parental notification bill, and legislation to cut state funding of Planned Parenthood.

While previous attempts to pass an unborn victims bill in Virginia have failed before, Victoria Cobb, the Family Foundation’s director of legislative affairs said the Laci Peterson case in California "is going to provide some momentum."

The Family Foundation is hoping for their state to join the 28 other states, including California, which allow prosecutors to charge criminals with an additional crime who kill or injure an unborn child in the course of an attack against a pregnant mother.

Currently, Virginia only provides for increased penalties for violent crimes against pregnant women, but does not recognize a separate crime for killing or injuring the baby before birth. A second crime would mean criminals would serve longer jail sentences if convicted.

Cobb added that the proposed legislation is targeted, in part, at curbing domestic violence against pregnant women.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia have reiterated the same challenge as they have in other states and nationwide, that giving protection to unborn children is a bad idea.

"Fetal rights could very well take precedence over a woman’s right," said Ben Greenberg, the pro-abortion group’s director of government relations.

Another statewide pro-life group says polls show strong support for the legislation.

The Virginia Society for Human Life pointed to a survey conducted by Fox News, in which 79% of respondents, 69% of which identified themselves as "pro-choice," favored the idea of allowing prosecutors to charge those who injure or kill an unborn child with a separate crime.

The Family Foundation is also endorsing HB 381, which would ensure that parents are involved in their minor children’s seeking in medical procedures including treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, the provision of emergency contraception, pregnancy, abortion, illegal drug use, or the contemplation of suicide.

Similar parental involvement laws in other states have helped reduce the number of abortions done on teenagers.

"HB 381 ensures that state and local health care professionals follow an ethical practice of involving parents or legal guardians in the life of the child at the most crucial moments," said a Family Foundation statement. "The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) supports the notion that parental involvement has a positive impact on dangerous behavior. JAMA affirms that parental involvement affects teens becoming or remaining sexually active."

Cobb has also stated that the Family Foundation will support a budget amendment to eliminate public funding for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, an "extreme and controversial organization."

PPAV Director of Government Relations Ben Greenberg told the Associated Press that his organization does not receive direct state funding, but does receive funding through contracts with local agencies.