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Bill allowing tax-funded abortion passes

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The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate have passed a bill allowing tax-funded abortion for any reason in Virginia’s health exchange. The exchange is a virtual health insurance marketplace where Virginians can shop and enroll in health care plans. Taxes pay for managing the exchange and subsidizing health care plans of tens of thousands of low- and middle-income Virginians.

Catholics decried the decision. “Today, the House of Delegates made the tragic decision to expand drastically abortion coverage in Virginia’s health benefits exchange,” said the Virginia Bishops Michael F. Burbidge and Barry C. Knestout in a joint statement Jan. 26. “This legislation is identical to the bill the Senate passed that permits plans participating in the exchange to cover abortion for any reason, funded in significant part with Virginians’ tax dollars. Replacing the current life-saving restrictions on abortion with a policy of abortion coverage without limits in our state exchange is drastic, dangerous and will result in the tragic end to more unborn lives.”

The Virginia bishops also released a joint decision when the Senate passed the bill Jan. 22 — the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “We express our deep disappointment with this vote on a very solemn day in U.S. history… when we reflect in particular on the more than 60 million unborn lives lost,” the statement said. “Abortion is not health care; it ends lives instead of healing them.”

Much has happened in the General Assembly since the session began Jan. 13. With bipartisan support, the legislative body is considering abolishing the death penalty. The Virginia Catholic Conference, the public policy agency representing Virginia’s Catholic bishops, supports abolishing the death penalty. Its website states, “As Pope Francis, his predecessors and the U.S. Catholic bishops have consistently noted, we have other ways to provide punishment and protect society, without resorting to executions. As the Catechism states, ‘there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.’ ” 

The Senate is considering legalizing the commercial sale of marijuana, which the VCC opposes, citing concerns about increased traffic deaths, more addiction and higher rates of suicide. The House is considering a bill that would reverse current religious freedom protections for adoption and foster care agencies. The VCC opposes the repeal of the law, which it helped create in 2012.

According to the VCC website, “current law simply ensures that no agencies — including faith-based agencies that follow the teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman — are forced to participate in placements that violate their beliefs and moral convictions,” it said. “To restrict faith-based organizations’ work by infringing on religious freedom is unfair and serves no one, especially children in need of services. We need to increase — not decrease — their opportunities to be placed with safe and loving families.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021