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December 14, 2017
Virginia bishops lament veto of bill defunding Planned Parenthood
Crowds at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bruno.
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.- The bishops of Virginia's two dioceses on Tuesday decried Governor Terry McAuliffe's veto of a bill which would have redirected state funding away from abortion providers and toward community health centers.

“Surrounded by Planned Parenthood supporters at a veto ceremony outside the Governor’s Mansion this morning, Gov. McAuliffe said his actions protected the rights and dignity of Virginia women – when, in fact, his actions harm the dignity of the women deceived by the multi-billion dollar abortion industry as well as the tiniest females, those still in the womb whose lives are brutally eliminated by abortion,” read a Feb. 21 statement of the Virginia Catholic Conference.

The conference said it “upholds the timeless truth that every human being, born and unborn, has an equal right to life. The Conference finds Gov. McAuliffe’s pride in protecting an organization that destroys life and harms women and their families deeply offensive. We will continue to fight for the day when Virginia law protects all human life, at every stage of development, from conception until natural death.”

The conference represents the public policy interests of Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, had vetoed an identical measure in 2016. The bill, HB 2264, had been introduced to the House of Delegates, the lower house of the Virginia legislature, by Ben Cline (R – Rockbridge). McAuliffe claimed that the bill would disincentivize businesses who wish to invest in Virginia.

It would have barred Virigina's health department from providing funds to any entity that performs abortions not covered by Medicaid, and would have redirected the money to other health clinics which provide more comprehensive health care services.

The bill passed in the House of Delegates Feb. 7 with a 60-33 vote that fell along party lines. A week later, Feb. 14, it passed in the state Senate with a 20-14 margin.

After the veto, Cline expressed his hope that the Virginia General Assembly would override the decision. “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 prepared statement.

The Virginia bill and McAuliffe's veto come on the heels of the national legislature’s moves to block funding to Planned Parenthood on both the state and the national levels. Last week, the House of Representatives rolled back Obama Administration regulations blocking individual states from defunding Planned Parenthood. Furthermore, both the House and the Senate have set in place measures that could lead to the eventual blockage of Planned Parenthood receiving federal funds.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R- Wisc.) has repeatedly advocated using funds earmarked for Planned Parenthood on community health centers and other forms of health access for low-income citizens.