by Steven Ertelt
March 18, 2008
Richmond, VA (LifeNews.com) — After some surprising initial success, the Virginia legislature has dropped an effort to stop taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood — the nation’s largest abortion business. The House and Senate initially included defunding Planned Parenthood in their versions of the state budget.
However, that amendment was removed during the conference committee negotiations and pro-life groups are disappointed.
Victoria Cobb, president of the Virginia Family Foundation, told LifeNews.com that Senate Majority Leader Dick Salsaw, a Senate budget conferee, tried to tie an unrelated issue to the funding ban.
But, Delegate Kirk Cox forced conferees to vote on the issue of funding Planned Parenthood as a stand alone item.
Cobb explained that, under the legislative rules, a budget provision can be removed despite its inclusion in budgets from both chambers as long as three legislators on either side agree.
She said lawmakers Dick Saslaw, Janet Howell and Ed Houck "were willing to shut down state government entirely to ensure Planned Parenthood continues to get their funding but that House negotiators would not go that far."
"We cannot begin to express our disappointment with this outcome," Cobb told LifeNews.com.
Meanwhile, Olivia Gans, the president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, told LifeNews.com she was upset, too, by the result of the negotiations.
"It is a great tragedy that straightforward measures to protect human life that passed soundly in the House of Delegates would be so recklessly tossed aside by the Senate in its final hours of debate over this years budget," Gans told LifeNews.com.
Gans said she was also concerned that legislators removed language preventing taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life.
She said lawmakers defeated both measures "in spite of the fact that both measures enjoyed major support from Virginians throughout the state."
"It is equally stunning that the people of Virginia will be forced to pay for the killing of the unborn children as their tax dollars are transferred into the coffers of Planned Parenthood, the nations largest private provider and promoter of abortions. It is unconscionable, Gans concluded.
In the Senate, Planned Parenthood funding was initially banned with the help of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. He had to cast a tiebreaking vote after the Senate tied 20-20.
The Virginia Senate ultimately approved the budget, with the amendment intact, on a 22-18 vote.