The Virginia Senate voted to end taxpayer funding to abortion provider Planned Parenthood last week. The tie-breaking vote was cast by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.
The amendment to the state budget followed a 20-20 tie among the senators.
The decision, a major setback for the Senate's new Democratic majority, marks the first time in more than a decade that the Senate has decided against giving state aid to the organization because of its abortion-related activities.
The GOP-controlled House has long pushed to cut off state aid for Planned Parenthood, but the moderate Republicans who controlled the Senate until this year fought off the effort.
Planned Parenthood leads the nation in number of abortions performed.
Attorney general hopeful Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II introduced the amendment. He explicitly attacked Planned Parenthood's abortion programs. "What we are doing is financing an abortion-mill operator," Cuccinelli said. "This will deny them that money."
The decision was a surprise, given the Senate's Democratic majority. Democrat Sen. Charles J. Colgan's vote in favor of the amendment led to the tie vote, which was decided by the Lt. Governor's vote. Despite pressure from fellow Democrats, Colgan sided with 19 Republicans, stating, "I ran on a pro-life platform, and most of my constituents are pro-life." Colgan cited fidelity to his conscience as a major reason for opposing funding to Planned Parenthood.
Regardless of how one views abortion, taxpayers are financing a private medical procedure--and that didn't sit well with some Virginia State Senators.
Planned Parenthood's abortion support was a clear reason for House opposition to funding. "We should shut off all federal dollars to any organization that provides abortion services or counseling," Rep. Stephen King told Cybercast News Service.
Democratic opponents of the amendment made an interesting argument: Planned Parenthood's programs actually decreased abortion.
They also claimed that cutting funding to Planned Parenthood would hurt PP's HIV prevention and pregnancy prevention programs.
Nothing was said about whether the state government should be in the business of funding abortions.
Sen. Janet D. Howell, argued that Planned Parenthood's contraceptive programs lead to a decreased number of abortions. "The irony is, Planned Parenthood probably prevents more abortions than any other organization in the country," said Howell.
Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw expressed fears that the Wednesday decision will lead to further funding cuts to groups that supply abortion. "Once we start down this road, there will be no stopping," said Saslaw.
Virginia's taxpayers have ponied up big bucks for Planned Parenthood in the past.
Last summer, Planned Parenthood revealed that it had received $305.3 million in tax-player funding in 2006, 12 percent more than in the previous year. Planned Parenthood admitted that 34 percent of its 2006 income came from taxpayer funding. The organization also reported a $55.8 million profit for the year.
The Republican-controlled House has already eliminated Planned Parenthood funding from its budget.
An interesting argument from Planned Parenthood opponents concerned PP's teenwire.com site.
Representatives also cited the inappropriate sexual material on Planned Parenthood's teenwire.com site as reason to end taxpayer support of the group. The site tells teens that viewing pornography is normal. "I don't believe taxpayer funding should be going to groups that put sexually explicit material on the Internet targeted at minors" said Rep. Joseph Pitts.
Actions that would land most people who tried that in jail.
Just part of the Virginia Planned Parenthood's spending of 300+ million dollars.
Planned Parenthood should be free to do whatever is legal.
But the Virginia taxpayers shouldn't have to finance it.
They won't have to--at least for the coming budget year.
* Virginia Cuts All Funding to Planned Parenthood
* Senate Vote Sets Tone on Abortion
DBKP.com - Bigger, Better!.
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.