General Assembly considering bill to cut Planned Parenthood funding
Gov. McAuliffe says he will veto bill 'again'
A vote was held in the Virginia House of Delegates Tuesday for house bill 2264, a bill restricting funds for abortions and family planning services. Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst) and Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudon) are the patrons of this bill.
The bill was favored 60-33 and will now advance in the state General Assembly despite strong protests by Progress Virginia, Virginia Civic Engagement Table, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia and other groups.
This bill is part of a nationwide push from Republicans at both the state and national levels to defund Planned Parenthood. The organization has five clinics across Virginia including one in Charlottesville. The bill proposes to cut federal Title X funding to Planned Parenthood and any other group that performs abortions.
Planned Parenthood says that only three percent of the services it provides are abortions. The clinic provides other services including STI testing, cancer screenings, contraception distribution and other women’s health services.
David Timberline, director of communications for the Planned Parenthood League of Virginia, said the bill is “not unexpected.”
“What this bill does immediately is not enormous,” Timberline said. “It definitely undermines our operations. Most immediately, it will affect over 2,000 women who get STI testing and treatment.”
Cline, the bill’s sponsor, pushed this exact legislation last year, only for it to get vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
“And I will veto it again this year,” McAuliffe tweeted in response to a Richmond Times-Dispatch article about the most recent vote.
“We are continuing to do our work and what we do and we are fortunate enough at this point to have the support of the governor, who at this time last year, vetoed the same bill,” Timberline said. “So that is the last resort, but his veto is always a possibility to override the decision. But that hasn’t happened yet.”
LaRock described abortion as “morally repugnant,” and said he believed that abortion is the primary service offered by Planned Parenthood.
“It’s really not so much my beliefs … but as a representative that serves many other people, I take positions that represent much of the general public,” LaRock said. “An organization that performs abortions for profit should not be subsidized by taxpayers of Virginia.”
LaRock also said it is “disappointing” that McAuliffe is such an “enthusiastic supporter” of abortion rights.
“It’s hard for me to understand,” LaRock said. “It’s so different from my way of thinking … I personally value human life.”
Timberline said he is concerned with the ability of other clinics to keep up with the demand in services if Planned Parenthood were to be defunded.
“Taking Planned Parenthood off the table in terms of providing services basically just swamps [other qualified health clinics] even further,” Timberline said. “There really is no validity to the argument that there are other clinics that can handle the patient volume that they would get.”
The bill is currently in the Virginia State Senate and reported out of the Senate’s Committee on Education and Health Thursday.