RICHMOND, Va. — The Democratic governor of Virginia vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would have defunded the abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood in the commonwealth.
“Without access to reproductive care and the freedom to exercise choice, women are denied the choice to make deeply personal health decisions,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking before representatives from from Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and Progress Virginia. “It’s time that our General Assembly understands that we have a responsibility to protect the rights and dignity of women.”
He pointed to North Carolina’s bathroom bill and asserted that defunding the abortion industry in Virginia would similarly be harmful to the local economy.
“Discrimination breeds hatred, and we will not tolerate that in the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe declared. “We treat everyone equally, with dignity and respect.”
“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,” he said.
As previously reported, HB 2264 passed the state Senate last week, days 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 prioritized funds for family planning to instead be distributed to the approximately 140 health clinics and hospitals in Virginia.
“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,” sponsor Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, said in a statement following the passage of the legislation.
But McAuliffe vowed to veto the bill as he did in March 2016, when it likewise passed both House and Senate.
According to reports, members of The Family Foundation stood outside of the governor’s mansion on Tuesday as he rejected the legislation, holding signs such as “all lives matter” and “Planned Parenthood lies to you.”
“It’s disappointing the governor continues to do the bidding of the abortion industry,” president Victoria Cobb told the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Cline likewise expressed disappointment.
“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,” he said.
Cline hopes that the General Assembly will have enough votes—a two-thirds majority—to override the veto. The effort failed by one vote last year.
As previously reported, 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.