Rather than passing two bills headed by abortion supporters which aimed to impose restrictions on pregnancy centers, Virginia legislators chose to pass a resolution this week that praised the pregnancy centers' work.
Just one week after H.B. 452 and S.B. 188 headed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL were introduced, subcommittees in both the Virginia House and Senate dismissed the bills after legislators heard from numerous pregnancy center workers and their affiliates. The pro-abortion groups had sought to impose restrictions on pregnancy centers and to limit the revenue they receive from pro-life license plates.
During a stunning turn of events in the initial hearings in January, “SB 188 was heard by a Senate subcommittee, and after an extensive hearing featuring compelling testimony by directors of pregnancy resource centers and women who have been helped by them, the bill's patron decided to withdraw his bill from consideration for the year,” Jeff Caruso, founding director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, told CNA on Thursday.
“Immediately after this amazing reversal, a House subcommittee heard similar testimony and then voted to reject HB 452,” he explained.
“One topic that resonated especially at these hearings was the high degree of skepticism legislators had about the 'study' done by NARAL of pregnancy resource centers in Virginia,” Caruso added. “One committee member noted that it was very much akin to one industry doing an investigation of a competing industry, and that you would not expect such a study to be objective or credible.”
Caruso also said that he found “it particularly ironic that Virginia's abortion clinics are not even required to be licensed by the state despite the fact that they perform invasive surgeries, and yet the same groups who have opposed legislation year after year to require abortion clinic licensing were leading the charge for intrusive regulations on pro-life centers this year.”
After the two bills were defeated on Jan. 26, a resolution praising the work of pregnancy centers in the state was introduced in early March and was passed this week by both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.
“Pregnancy resource centers provide extremely valuable, life-affirming services to Virginia women and their babies,” Caruso explained. “These centers are financially supported by partner churches and by generous individuals, and through the work of many volunteers. They have saved our Commonwealth millions of dollars by stepping up to the plate to provide vitally important services to those who are in need.”
“States should be helping these centers, not hindering their good work,” he underscored.
Since similar legislative efforts have taken place in other states by pro-abortion groups, CNA asked Caruso if he believes these initiatives are part of a wider agenda.
“I think it's obvious from their pursuit of this legislation that Planned Parenthood and NARAL see pro-life pregnancy centers as threats, both to the ideology they seek to promote and to the abortion industry's bottom line,” he replied. “It seems clear to me that they are looking for openings to push these bills where they can. Their effort certainly did not receive a warm welcome in Virginia, that's for sure. I hope that the result here will serve notice and lead to the same outcomes in other states.”