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Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia.

RICHMOND, Virginia, January 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The commonwealth of Virginia has launched a $9-million federally funded contraceptive program targeting poor women with subsidized birth control drugs. The pilot program focuses on increasing awareness and use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).

“Family planning leads to better outcomes for women, their children, and the community as a whole,” a press release last Friday from Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam stated.

“About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned,” the statement said. “Medical advances in contraception have led to the availability of methods that are more effective but not all Virginians know this or can afford birth control. This investment is based on recommendations of the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success and provides education and access for those who need assistance.”

More than 8,000 Virginia residents were forcibly sterilized between the years of 1924 and 1979 in a government program targeting individuals found to be affected by insanity, “idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness, or epilepsy.”

Virginia's “program to increase education and access to reproductive health services” would also make specifics about varying types of birth control available to women, train contraception providers, and create one staff member position. Northam will manage working with legislators for its approval in the budget.

Core components of the program as listed by the commonwealth are:

  • Providing the contraception at no cost to eligible women
  • Conducting outreach to increase awareness and education regarding the full range of contraceptive options available
  • Training clinicians on procedures and uses of the contraceptive options
  • Measuring the impact of greater access to better birth control

The Virginia contraception program mirrors one in Colorado, which Virginia is touting as successful with a reported 40-percent drop in teen births and a savings of $5 in Medicaid costs for each dollar spent by the program. But the pregnancy reduction figure publicized by the commonwealth ignores the abortifacient nature of many LARCs, and the Medicaid savings cited reduce human life to financial cost.

While funds for Virginia's new subsidized contraception initiative would come from the federal government, the pilot program is tied to Governor Terry McAuliffe's two-year budget, a report from the local NBC affiliate WSLS-10 said.

McAuliffe has a known record of strong support for abortion, including promising during his gubernatorial campaign to keep subpar abortion facilities open by executive action, and dismissing investigations of Planned Parenthood for its trafficking in human remains as simply political attacks.

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One pro-life organization criticized the Virginia contraception push and cautioned against the hidden dangers.

“The McAuliffe administration's press release is full of Orwellian newspeak, making the even more radical promotion of dangerous contraceptives for poor women sound like an act of justice and concern rather than what it is: population control,” Stephen Phelan, director of mission communications for Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews.

“These hormonal drugs, especially the long-acting reversible methods now in vogue among population controllers, are even raising concern among some who support contraceptives due to their potential for harming women,” he said.

Virginia Society for Human Life president Olivia Turner told LifeSiteNews that legislative approval of the contraceptive program is likely facing an uphill battle in both chambers of the Virginia statehouse, since both have a pro-life majority.

Turner also said Virginia legislators are not in a hurry to spend tax dollars on something that would generate division and rejection from the people.

“There's a real sense that things like this coming from Lt. Gov. Northam will not be met favorably,” she said, terming the lieutenant governor a “staunch pro-abortion advocate.”

The term “full range of contraceptive services” used in the lieutenant governor's press release has been a catchphrase used by pro-abortion supporters for some time to include abortion counseling, Turner said, and her group will be monitoring the legislative process and oppose the bill funding the program if abortion is part of it.

The announcement of Virginia's push for more access to birth control for the state's poor women comes after Virginia lawmakers just last year approved compensation to roughly one dozen known living victims of its decades-old forced sterilization program.

More than 8,000 Virginia residents were forcibly sterilized between the years of 1924 and 1979 in a government program targeting individuals found to be affected by insanity, “idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness, or epilepsy.”

Announcing the new no-charge birth control program before an audience at Northern Virginia Community College, Northam placed birth control on par with education as key in helping women succeed in Virginia. He also tied the new federally funded contraception program to attracting commerce to Virginia.

“Education and access to family planning services help women and families live healthy and prosperous lives in Virginia,” he said. “When pregnancies are planned, it is easier for Virginians to achieve life goals like getting a college education or starting a business. And when any business looks to come to Virginia, we want that business to know we are a welcoming and open place for women and families to live and work.”

Phelan condemned this as well.

“McAuliffe's administration has the audacity to speak in terms of health and education, with the predetermined 20-million-dollar outcome being the more widespread acceptance of unhealthy drugs among the most uneducated sector of society,” he stated. “True education and health programs would ensure that women knew that their healthiest option was to postpone sexual activity until marriage, to remain faithful, and to use a natural method for spacing pregnancies (some of which are now very sophisticated and effective) when they have serious reasons for doing so.”

“It would carry a strong message of encouragement for women to have a strong enough sense of their own dignity as human persons not to be used sexually by men who have no respect for them,” Phelan told LifeSiteNews. “This program does a terrible disservice to some of the most vulnerable people and families in Virginia. It should be opposed unequivocally.”