McAuliffe vetoes bill to defund Planned Parenthood

Proposed law intended for clinics providing abortion services not covered by Medicaid


The bill overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 60-33 and narrowly passed the Senate by 20-19 before it was vetoed.

Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill Tuesday that would effectively cut funding for Planned Parenthood in the state of Virginia.

House Bill 2264, proposed by Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst), states the Virginia Department of Health “shall not enter into a contract with, or make a grant to, any entity that performs abortions that are not federally qualified … or maintains or operates a facility where non-federally qualified abortions are performed.”

The bill was intended for clinics providing abortion services not originally covered by Medicaid. Federal spending on abortions is only allocated for instances of rape, incest or in cases the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.

Planned Parenthood also has clinics providing abortions which are not considered federally qualified.

“This bill, aimed at Planned Parenthood, would harm tens of thousands of Virginians who rely on the health care services and programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers, by denying them access to affordable care,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Virginians, and particularly low-income Virginians, need more access to health care, not less.”

The bill overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 60-33 and narrowly passed the Senate 20-19.

Cline proposed similar legislation last year, which the governor also vetoed. McAuliffe said he would continue to fight against proposed restrictions on women’s health care.

“If we are going to build a new, more vibrant Virginia economy, we need to open doors to quality, affordable health care, not close them,” McAuliffe said. “Attempts to restrict women's access to health care will impede the goal of making Virginia the best place to live, work and run a business.”

McAuliffe vetoed the bill at the Executive Mansion in front of reproductive rights advocates within the state of Virginia including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and Progress Virginia.

"We are so grateful for McAuliffe’s veto this morning,” Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said in a press release. "Virginia women have made it clear that we want our reproductive rights protected and expanded, and today the governor made it clear that he hears us and is with us.”

David Timberline, a spokesperson for Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, said the effects of the defunding would depend on the region of the state.

“Planned Parenthood provides primary care for women that other health clinics cannot. So if they were to have cancer screening and needed to come back for a follow up, they wouldn’t be able to do that at a federally funded health-care clinic,” Timberline said. “Around 22,000 patients around the state would be denied care.”

Olivia Gans Turner, President of Virginia Society for Human Life, said this is not a pro-life or pro-choice issue. Rather, it is an issue of where taxpayer money is going in terms of health care services for women.

“There is a preponderance of evidence that taxpayers are not comfortable funding a place that provides abortions,” Turner said.

Turner also said McAuliffe is “beholden to Planned Parenthood with their campaign donations.”

“We support [Delegate] Cline and any other delegates who will fight for proper women’s health care,” Turner said.

In a released statement, Cline said he was disappointed by McAuliffe’s veto and vowed to override it later in the week.

“This important legislation would have prioritized taxpayer dollars toward providers of more comprehensive health care services, and the governor’s veto undermines those efforts to improve health care in rural and underserved areas,” Cline said in a statement. “I am disappointed that Governor McAuliffe has again chosen to side with the abortion lobby over the health care needs of women across Virginia, and it is my hope that the General Assembly will override the governor’s veto later this week.”

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