RICHMOND, Va. — Lawmakers in Virginia have passed a bill to defund the abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood, as well as all other abortion providers—a move that the Commonwealth’s Democratic governor has vowed to veto.
HB 2264 passed the Senate 20-19 along party lines on Tuesday, a week after likewise clearing the House of Delegates.
“The 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 abortions or maintains or operates a facility where non-federally qualified abortions are performed,” the bill read.
A “federally qualified abortion” is defined as “an abortion qualified for federal matching funds under the Medicaid program,” or an abortion in the instance of rape, incest or fetal abnormality.
The bill prioritizes funds for family planning to instead be distributed to health clinics and hospitals.
Planned Parenthood has decried the legislation, suggesting that women will have nowhere else to go for services, such as testing for sexually transmitted infections.
“This bill specifically targets Planned Parenthood and, if passed into law, would undermine the health of thousands of our patients who count on us for comprehensive care,” said Virginia CEO Paulette McElwain. “Clearly, the senators voting for this bill have no real sense of its impact. We know that immediately scores of Virginia women would no longer have access to STI testing, a subsidized service utilized by nearly 2,000 of our patients last year.”
But bill sponsor Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, says that the funding will simply go to other organizations that don’t kill children.
“I am pleased that my bill to redirect taxpayer dollars toward more comprehensive providers of health care services for women has now passed the General Assembly,” he said in a statement following the passage of the legislation. “I look forward to its continued success now that it is being sent to the governor’s desk.”
He had submitted a similar bill last year, but it was vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The governor’s office confirms that he plans to veto the measure as he did in March 2016.
“And I will veto it again this year,” McAuliffe also Tweeted last Wednesday when the bill cleared the House, generating over 5,000 likes.
The Guttmacher Institute outlines that 21,080 abortions were performed in Virginia in 2014, the latest year on file. The overwhelming majority of the women obtaining abortions were unmarried, and many claimed to be religious.
“As of 2014, some 60% of women having abortions were in their 20s; 59% had one or more children; 86% were unmarried; 75% were economically disadvantaged; and 62% reported a religious affiliation,” it states.
There were over 900,000 abortions nationwide that year.