RICHMOND — A bill seeking to defund Planned Parenthood cleared a
House subcommittee Jan. 31on a 4-1 vote.
HB 2264, introduced by Del. Ben Cline, R-Amherst, “would prohibit
the Virginia Department of Health from granting funds or entering into
contracts with certain health care providers that perform abortion.”
More specifically, it would cut off Title X funding for Planned
Parenthood, which supports family planning services, long-term contraception
and educational programs.
“It’s just another effort to cripple the organization,” said
David Timberline, director of communications for the Virginia League for
Planned Parenthood has clinics in Richmond, Virginia Beach,
Hampton, Charlottesville and Roanoke. Timberline said most people come to the
clinics for family planning, cancer screening and testing for sexually
transmitted diseases. Last year, 18,000 people visited Planned Parenthood
clinics in Virginia.
Timberline believes that many of the people who oppose Planned
Parenthood think that once it is shut down, other clinics can pick up providing
the family planning services that the organization provides. “That is
completely false,” he said.
Supporters of the bill said it would ensure that taxpayer money
is spent on “fully comprehensive health clinics” to provide services to women.
Addressing the subcommittee of the House Committee of Health, Welfare and
Institutions, Cline said the legislation “ensures that hospitals, federally
qualified health clinics and rural health clinics are funded prior to abortion
He said the bill would give priority to more than 140 federally
qualified and rural health clinics in Virginia. Cline said the bill would make
sure that money is sent to “health clinics that meet the needs of those
populations they serve in the most comprehensive manner possible,” instead of
to clinics that provide abortions.
Cline introduced an identical bill in the 2016 legislative
session. It passed both the House and the Senate but was vetoed by Gov. Terry
McAuliffe. The House was one vote short of overriding the governor’s veto.
Several women addressed the subcommittee in opposition to the
bill. They included Dr. Serina Floyd, an obstetrician and gynecologist from
Northern Virginia. Floyd said the bill would harm tens of thousands of
Virginians who rely on Planned Parenthood’s comprehensive services.
“The fact is that Virginians, particularly low-income Virginians,
need more access to health care and not less,” she said. “Hospitals that
provide abortions have been exempted from the bill, which means that only
health centers like Planned Parenthood are being targeted.”
Supporters of the bill include the Family Foundation of Virginia.
According to its website, the group believes that “human life, from
fertilization until natural death, is sacred, and the right to life is
fundamental to all other rights.”
Timberline plans to continue to rally community support to fight
attacks on Planned Parenthood.
“We’re trying to get the word out that people who are fired up
about what’s happening on the national level can have their voice heard on the
local,” Timberline said. “They can speak at community hearings. That’s what we
did this morning, and that’s what we plan to do with anything that comes along
that tries to deny the services that we provide to our patients.”
The bill will advance to the full House Committee on Health,
Welfare and Institutions. The panel will consider the legislation Feb. 2.