Daniel McConchie

In Virginia: A surprise amendment, sudden victory for abortion clinic regulation

Daniel McConchie

It’s has been a wild week in Virginia.

Earlier this month, every single pro-life bill died in in the Virginia Senate. The pro-abortion led caucus blocked many good pieces of legislation in committee on a party line vote. Bills like the opt-out of the abortion mandate in the federal health care bill, an expanded informed consent bill, and even a bill that would ban coercing a woman into getting an abortion against her will died in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

And then there was this week.

For years, the pro-life movement has tried to get basic abortion clinic regulations laws in place in Virginia - you know, the kinds of rules that guarantee that medical utensils will be cleaned, doors are wide enough for gurneys to fit through, etc. When a legislature considers such regulations, the abortion clinics fight these rules tooth and nail. You see, they don’t care about women’s health – just their bottom line.

On Monday, a rather routine bill came from the Virginia Senate over to the House with a vote of 40-0. Senate Bill 924 would require the Board of Health to promulgate regulations containing minimum standards for policies related to infection prevention, disaster preparedness, and facility security of hospitals, nursing homes, and certified nursing facilities. Delegate Kathy Byron had an idea. She offered an amendment in the House that added abortion clinics to the list of facilities to be considered as “hospitals” for the setting up of these standards. The amendment passed 63-34.

The bill was then sent back over to the Senate where its future was in doubt. We at AUL activated our grassroots supporters along with other allies such as the Family Foundation, and affiliate of Focus on the Family. When it came time to vote, the Virginia Senate this time voted 20-20 on the bill. Twenty senators changed their vote because they did NOT want to require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other medical facilities. That is amazing. Pro-abortion legislators continue to vote against basic health and safety rules of abortion clinics, even as abuses such as Kermit Gosnell’s ‘house of horrors’ come to light.

Thankfully, Virginia’s Lt. Governor, Bill Bolling is pro-life. As the head of the senate, he casts a vote when there is a tie. He voted to pass the bill.

Immediately, Governor Bob McDonnell enthusiastically indicated his willingness to sign the new bill into law. Even Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent out an email to constituents praising the bill’s passage.

Interestingly, pro-abortion organizations are already raising a furor saying that many abortion clinics in the state will likely close rather than be held to the standards that other medical centers have to meet. Frankly, if they can’t meet the standards of other medical facilities, then I think they should close. We should not allow abortion facilities to operate who refuse to meet basic health and safety standards and put women’s health above their profits.

Until today twenty-eight states regulated abortion clinics in some manner. Now Virginia finally joins the club. It’s time for the rest of the country to start protecting women too.

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Planned Parenthood says its services are necessary in Oklahoma: the numbers show otherwise

Daniel McConchie
Daniel McConchie

Co-authored with Veronika Johannsen

A local Planned Parenthood facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma is set to close its doors beginning February 1, 2013 after losing funding for the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) at the beginning of this year. This marks a new front in the defunding battle as Planned Parenthood continues to be on the defensive regarding many of the various services it bills to the government.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health chose not to renew its contract with the organization in September 2012, citing a low-case-load and higher cost of patient participation. This decision is justifiable, especially considering the several cases of alleged Medicaid fraud, including a suit filed against Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Iowa, which is Oklahoma’s affiliate. "This is a renewal period, and the agency has taken the option not to renew based on the needs of the Health Department, the contractor's performance and funding availability," according to a statement the department released.

WIC is a Federal grant program of the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture which annually receives specified funding amounts from Congress. The program provides food-vouchers for supplemental nutrition assistance to income-eligible women who are pregnant (including six weeks after pregnancy), breastfeeding (up to child’s 1st birthday), and non-breastfeeding postpartum women (up to six months after pregnancy) as well as infants up to their 1st birthday and children under the age of 5. Few Planned Parenthood centers are currently known to participate in the program.

In response to the decision by the Oklahoma Department of Health, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Jill June wrote in an official statement: “Without any justification, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPHeartland) received notification that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is eliminating funding for the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program from three Planned Parenthood health centers in Tulsa.” June decried the decision as being politically motivated. “Politics should never interfere with a woman’s access to health services – or food for her children.”

Further investigation of this fantasized “war on women’s healthcare” shows June’s claim that Oklahoma’s decision was purely political proves to be untrue. June exaggerates the accessibility of Planned Parenthood in the Oklahoma community by insinuating that women and their children across the state will be denied basic healthcare and supplemental nutrition.  Consider that of the eleven Planned Parenthood clinics located throughout the state, only three of them provided WIC services. These three clinics are all centralized in Tulsa County – not in various counties throughout the state, thus limiting accessibility to those who live in other counties. Terry Bryce, the state’s WIC services director responded, “Their performance does not tie into politics for me.”

Of the 199,171 individuals who obtained WIC benefits in the county, two-thirds of them went to Tulsa County Health Departments which has ten different locations to serve the public. Additionally, women in need have the option of obtaining WIC services from four other independent clinics located throughout the county. Less than one-fifth of current WIC clients receive services at Planned Parenthood and most likely have easy access one of the other 14 locations in the area:

Tulsa is the only place in the state where Planned Parenthood currently provides WIC services. While the statement by Planned Parenthood encourages residents to believe Planned Parenthood is a major asset to the community by providing WIC services to women and children, in reality they only account for a mere 2.94% of the total state of Oklahoma – and were strictly limited to one county. Bryce also said that the decision would offset another round of cuts by saving the state $154,000.

Planned Parenthood is often known for attempting to convince the public that without them, women would be without access to basic health care and necessities for themselves and their families. After taking a closer look however, it is evident that this Planned Parenthood “service” to the state of Oklahoma is miniscule at best, and the loss of their status as a WIC provider is unlikely to negatively impact those dependent upon the Federal program. These Planned Parenthood’s WIC services are more expensive for the state and the county has a broad infrastructure to easily handle the clients that Planned Parenthood currently services. There is little reason to continue giving Planned Parenthood the people’s money simply because they exist.

Activists in other states who discover Planned Parenthood providing WIC services should investigate to see if there are similar conditions to that of Oklahoma. There is no reason for taxpayers to be subsidizing the abortion giant, especially in cases where there are a significant number of entities providing services to women and when Planned Parenthood’s redundant provision of services is at a higher cost.

Daniel McConchie is Vice President of Government Affairs for Americans United for Life. Veronika Johannsen is government affairs intern.

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New Republican Party platform strongly pro-life

Daniel McConchie
Daniel McConchie

Over the last two days I had the privilege of working once again on the pro-life provisions of the Republican Party Platform in the meeting they hold once every four years. And once again the Committee approved a new party platform that strongly defends the sanctity of human life. A key provision in the document is a call for a Human Life Amendment to the US Constitution, a provision that has been in place since 1976, just three years after Roe v. Wade. 

And, in an historic first pioneered by myself and Kellie Fiedorek of AUL Action, the document now includes information about the negative impact of abortion on women, a provision that was approved unanimously by the delegates. Introduced by Illinois Delegate Sharee Langenstein, the mother of six daughters, for the first time the fact that abortion is bad for women is included in the section on health:

“Through Obamacare, the Obama Administration has promoted the notion that abortion is healthcare.  We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life.  Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women and we stand firmly against it.”

Some of the other key provisions included in this year’s document are:

“Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion, and permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth.”

“We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by exacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties to health care providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended.”

“We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion or contraception.”

“We also salute the many States that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulations.”

“We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy.”

“We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican initiatives.”

“We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage consistent with their religious, moral, or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty.”

These kinds of party platform planks represent the ideals people hold and describes their motivations for future public policy that the Party will pursue. In this case, we have yet again an unambiguous declaration that the Republican Party will work to defend human life in the law.

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Another state (13th) opt-outs of abortion in Obamacare

Daniel McConchie
Daniel McConchie

This week the federal government moved ahead with regulations that will require everyone in the soon-to-be-established state exchanges who are in an insurance plan that includes elective abortion coverage to pay a separate monthly premium from their own pockets to fund abortion. However, at the same time, South Dakota became the thirteenth state to stand up and say no.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed into law HB 1185, a bill sponsored by state representative Jon Hansen and drafted from an AUL model bill on the subject. So far Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas,  Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia have all opted-out of having abortion covered in their federally-mandated insurance plans.

And South Dakota won’t be the last. At least seven other states have bills pending on this question right now while other states are looking to include such a provision as an amendment to the bill that establishes the state exchanges.

This is yet another proof that Americans are not interested in subsidizing abortion with their own money.

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