UPDATE, February 21, 2:42 p.m.: : Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a GOP measure on Tuesday that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. “It’s time that our General Assembly understands that we have a responsibility to protect the rights and dignity of women,” McAuliffe said in a press conference, according to The Hill.
Republican lawmakers in the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has already promised to veto the legislation if it makes it to his desk.
Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that protests against the measure are evidence of the support for reproductive rights in Virginia.
“The activism we saw today at the state capitol is a clear sign that women care deeply about threats to their reproductive freedom,” Keene said. “In voting to defund Planned Parenthood, legislators are subverting the will of the people and endangering health and the lives of thousands of Virginia women for purely ideological and political reasons. It’s shameful.”
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HB 2264, sponsored by Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst), would prohibit the state health department from entering into contracts or providing grants to any organization that provides abortion services or maintains a facility where abortions services are performed.
The bill was passed along party lines in a 60-33 vote, with Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News) and Del. Joseph Yost (R-Pearisburg) joining Democrats in voting against the legislation.
The measure is similar to HB 1090, which was passed in 2016 but was ultimately vetoed by the governor.
McAuliffe said in a statement at the time that he vetoed the legislation because it would restrict access to health care and would violate federal regulations for family planning funding under Title X.
“This bill, aimed at Planned Parenthood, would harm tens of thousands of Virginians who rely on the health care services and programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers by denying them access to affordable care,” McAuliffe said. “The fact is that Virginians, and particularly low-income Virginians, need more access to health care, not less.”
Health-care providers in the state say that prohibiting Planned Parenthood from receiving public funding would put a strain on a health-care system that is already under pressure.
Angela Futrell, the CEO of Southeastern Virginia Health System, told the Hampton Roads Daily Press that Planned Parenthood plays a vital role providing health care to people with low incomes.
“There’s more than enough people who need care, and it takes more than one entity to provide it,” Futrell said. “Planned Parenthood specializes in women’s health care and family planning—why would you want to take that service away?”
Tuesday’s vote is part of a nationwide campaign by Republican lawmakers to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for family planning. Similar bills have been introduced this year in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.
HB 2264 has been referred to the state senate, and on Friday was passed by the senate committee on education and health in a 8-7 vote. The bill could receive a vote next week in the full state senate, where Republicans hold a 21-19 majority.