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Pro-life advocates during Virginia's Defending Life DayAshley Bateman/LifeSiteNews

RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) —More than 300 pro-life constituents from districts across the Commonwealth gathered in Richmond Wednesday to meet with legislators during Virginia’s first legislative session of 2022. As the session nears “crossover day,” when bills move between the House and the Senate, pro-lifers sent a strong message to their representatives, calling on them to vote in favor of pro-life legislation.

Coined Defending Life Day, the February 9 event was a collaboration between the Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL), the Virginia Catholic Conference, and the Dioceses of both Richmond and Arlington.

“We know how powerful the voice of constituents can be,” said Olivia Gans-Turner, the VSHL president.

“We are doing this event to be the voice of the voiceless unborn, their mothers, and other vulnerable human lives. The aim…is to encourage in-person interaction with pro-life citizens and their elected officials.”

That interaction is paramount for legislators considering thousands of bills in a single session, said Senator Amanda Chase (R-District 11), senate sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (SB 710).

Chase called in-person representation “10 out of 10 important.”

“Whenever I’m presenting a bill and I have a room full of people with standing room only…it sends a message…to the legislators,” Chase said.

“I’m being watched, and I need to take this seriously. We vote on thousands of bills every session, and it lets the legislators know what bills are important to the people.”

Delegate Dave LaRock (R-District 33) is sponsoring and co-sponsoring several pro-life bills this session.

“Hearing from constituents has a big impact on how legislators cast their votes,” LaRock said. “The strongest instinct in most politicians is self-preservation.”

73% of Americans support banning abortions after 20 weeks

Reasonable measures to curb abortion are supported by the majority of Americans but are not represented at the legal level in Virginia. A January Marist poll found 73 percent of Americans support banning abortions after 20 weeks, and 54 percent either oppose or strongly oppose funding abortions with taxpayer dollars.Advocates focused on four legislative items in the February 9 meetings: Preventing Taxpayer-Funded Abortions (budget item 4-5.04 #1h), the Women’s Right to Know Law (HB 212), the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (HB 304) and the Virginia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HB 1274/SB 710).

Federal policy known as the Hyde Amendment allows taxpayer funding for abortion only in the case of danger to the life of the mother, rape, or incest, but in Virginia, taxes pay for abortions when the baby has a serious disability. The Preventing Taxpayer-Funded Abortions legislation would align Virginia’s state funding with federal funding restrictions.

The Women’s Right to Know Law, HB 212, would reinstate a 2001 law that was dismantled by the pro-abortion legislators in 2020. The law would require the state to provide women in crisis pregnancies educational material stating the facts about abortion procedures and risks, and the mother’s legal rights, and require a 24-hour waiting period.

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Catholic seminaries in the United States are now scrutinizing applications for the formation of new classes for this coming Autumn.

One of the requirements - which comes to us from the Lord's decision to select only men as His apostles - is that all candidates for the priesthood must be male, biologically, from birth.

But, tragically, some gender-confused women, masquerading as men, have actually been unknowingly admitted to seminaries.

Therefore, urgent steps must be taken by all U.S. bishops to ensure that this never happens in their seminaries.

Please SIGN this petition which calls on all U.S. bishops to take steps to ensure that all candidates for the priesthood are male - biologically, from birth.*

With the steep rise of gender dysphoria (being confused about one's sex) and so-called "transitioning" (where one attempts to change one's sex by the use of opposite-sex hormones and through surgery), Catholic seminaries have seen a corresponding rise in applications from gender-confused individuals.

And, some of those applicants have even been accepted -- only to be expelled when the truth eventually came out.

In a recent memo, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, head of the USCCB's Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, stated that the Conference was “made aware of instances where it had been discovered that a woman living under a transgender identity had been unknowingly admitted to [a] seminary or to a house of formation of an institute of consecrated life.”

Archbishop Listecki's memo suggest that DNA tests and medical exams should be instituted to stop any further incidents.

This petition asks that these steps be made mandatory for all applicants to the priesthood or religious life. Making such requirements mandatory for all would obviate claims of singling out individuals for special treatment.

Additionally, this petition also asks for a fundamental change in Catholic baptism certificates, most of which do not currently indicate sex at birth.

Changing the baptism certificate to reflect sex at birth would help future seminary staff in making crucial decisions about who they admit to their ranks.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition directed to all U.S. Catholic bishops. After you have signed, please consider SHARING with your likeminded friends, family and fellow parishioners.


'USCCB memo reveals women identifying as ‘trans men’ infiltrated seminaries' -

*This petition does not address the issue of individuals who, while born with male DNA, may exhibit female sexual characteristics (e.g., genitalia, features). The Church already acknowledges that such individuals cannot present themselves as candidates for the priesthood because of the aforementioned issues which are impediments for those individuals to fully embrace the masculine character required for the priesthood.

This petition also does not address the issue of biological men who say they are women. Such individuals are also automatically excluded as being candidates for the priesthood for the same reason above (as well as the obvious psychological issues present).

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Former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam shocked the nation with comments on allowing the death of a child born after a failed abortion. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act provides protections for these infants so that an abortion provider cannot leave a baby to die.

Joint bill HB 1274/SB 710 would protect the life of an unborn child after 20 weeks in utero, founded on medical evidence that unborn children are developed enough to experience pain at this point. The bill allows for abortion if the pregnancy would cause the mother to lose her life. Nearly 20 states have similar protections in place for the unborn. The Senate bill was voted down along party lines February 10, but is still active in the House.

‘I had the experience of being a pregnant teenager’

Participants began the day at the Richmond Convention Center, which opened with prayer. Bishops from both of Virginia’s Catholic dioceses attended as well as youth from several Catholic high schools. Adoption advocates were also in attendance, as was Executive Director Kristen Day from Democrats for Life.

Jeanie Grumblatt, a constituent from District 10, shared her personal reason for advocacy.

“I had the experience of being a pregnant teenager,” Grumblatt said.

“I’m an adoption advocate because I personally went through that myself and want to stand in solidarity with all my fellow pro-lifers. I’m here to say this: Choosing life is the only way to go.”

Margaret Colbert and Kevin Crouch (District 39) were slated for meetings with pro-abortion legislators.

“I think today is an opportunity for us to just dialogue,” Crouch said.

“Mark, our senator, is a Democrat, but he represents us as well. So I think if we bring our voice to him and have a conversation and a dialogue, then that will at least let him hear another side of the story, a side that obviously we feel is very important. I think the long game is we have to change hearts, as believers.”

Colbert attended the first March for Life in 1975 and has a “lifelong commitment” to defending the unborn from conception to birth.

“The unborn child is a citizen; it’s one of [my legislator’s] constituents,” Colbert said. “I just firmly believe we should inform him of that.”

Virginia law has become “too radical” and threatens rights in our state Constitution, she added.

‘We pray and look for abortion to be on the ash heap of history’

Pro-life lobbyists have noticed a tremendous decrease in constituent in-person representation in Virginia’s General Assembly in recent years. This comes in the wake of pandemic restrictions and remote work. Defending Life Day aims to reverse that trend, bringing constituents back into the Pocahontas building.

“We have a lot of work to do to educate and advocate,” said speaker Dean Nelson, vice-president of government relations at the Human Coalition, appointed to serve on the congressional Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission.

“I was introduced to abortion in the context of race and racism and [comparisons] to slavery. We think about the work for decades that was done to eliminate slavery, and … in many ways I try to encourage advocates today to…remember that abolition movement, to never give up, to not be concerned that the courts might be against us, because we have someone who is greater than the courts whose side we’ve chosen to be on. We pray and look for abortion to be on the ash heap of history, just as slavery was.”

Organizers plan to make Defending Life Day an annual event in Virginia, ensuring that legislators hear advocacy for life from constituents across the state.


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