Regional Voter Guides are Now Available!!!

Just one vote! That's all it took in 2017 when Delegate David Yancey tied with his challenger and had to have the winner decided by drawing a name out of a bowl.  So it's no exaggeration to say that one person in one church helped make sure that pro-life conservatives maintained the majority in the House of Delegates that year.    

The Family Foundation Action has created four Regional General Assembly Voter Guides, including for Metro Richmond, Tidewater (Peninsula to Virginia Beach), Loudoun/Fairfax, and Prince William/Stafford, based on the regions with the most competitive races this election cycle.  These Regional Guides contain multiple contested House and Senate races and are intended to educate voters about the candidates for the upcoming November 5th, 2019 General Election.  They are designed to motivate citizens to vote and enable them to make informed choices when they go to the ballot box in only a few weeks.

Click the links below to download a printable PDF version of the Regional Voter Guides to share and/or print.                     

                                         METRO RICHMOND                    TIDEWATER

                                         LOUDOUN/FAIRFAX                   PRINCE WILLIAM/STAFFORD

We are printing only these Regional Voter Guides and mailing them to those who order them to distribute in their region. If you wish to place an order for a particular region, you can do so by clicking HERE.  If you wish to get Voter Guides for individual House of Delegates and Senate races, TFF Action will not be printing these, but the PDFs for each will be linked to our website in the coming days for anyone to view, share and print.  Our website also features a helpful link that allows you to search for your state Delegate and Senator.

Please consider helping to offset the cost of these Voter Guides so that we can send them to more churches and Virginians, you can do so HERE.  A suggested donation of $.25 per copy is encouraged to help defray costs of printing and distribution.  Please also consider sponsoring the distribution of 100, 500 or even 1,000 Voter Guides with a donation of $25, $125, or $250.  If you prefer to make a donation by check please make them out to "TFF Action" and mail to 707 E. Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23219.  Thank you for your support!

The mission of The Family Foundation Action is to protect families and promote responsible citizenship by giving Virginians the tools they need to hold their elected officials accountable.  The Family Foundation Action is not a PAC and does not endorse candidates. Therefore, please be advised that political campaigns and candidates for public office may not use either The Family Foundation or The Family Foundation Action logo for any campaign-related publications.  Any such use of these logos is not authorized and should be ceased and corrected immediately.

Give to TFF Action!

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Punching Back: Peter Vlaming Fights for Conscience for Himself and All Teachers

Yesterday, Peter Vlaming, after having his livelihood completely disrupted last December when he was fired by the West Point School Board for not addressing a student with opposite-sex pronouns, announced he is suing the School Board for violating his constitutional rights of free speech and the exercise of his religious convictions.

You may recall that Mr. Vlaming was fired following a hearing before the Board not for what he said, but because of what he didn’t say in refusing to use male pronouns when addressing a female student who, after two years in Mr. Vlaming’s French class, decided to begin identifying as a boy.  In fact, in an effort be respectful of the student, he committed to using the student’s newly chosen (traditionally male) name, and to refrain from using any pronouns at all for the student, so as not to offend the student or anyone else.

All Mr. Vlaming did was follow his conscience, which could not permit him to speak objective falsehoods that distort the true nature of male and female as God created them. But of course, as we should all know by now, anything short of total celebration and participation in someone else’s sexual expressions is simply unacceptable to the ever-growing purveyors of sexual totalitarianism.

We stand with Mr. Vlaming who is standing up for his own conscience rights and the conscience rights of teachers across Virginia. And we are glad to see he is ‘punching back’ against the Board’s blatant and unlawful religious discrimination, by seeking $1 million in damages for current and future lost wages, benefits, loss of reputation, and pain and suffering for he and his family of six. And we’re thrilled that our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom will be representing him in this fight.

Please continue to pray for Peter as he stands in the gap for all teachers to be able to live according to their conscience and not be forced to express untrue messages which they disbelieve, but especially when it violates their deeply held religious convictions.

For more background on Peter Vlaming’s story, please read our blogs:

Answered Prayer In Major Abortion Lawsuit

Last night, federal district court Judge Henry E. Hudson released his highly-anticipated 67-page opinion in the abortion industry’s challenge to virtually all of Virginia’s pro-life laws, Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver. (For a recap of the two-week trial earlier this summer, read our blog here.)  In a huge answer to prayer, the decision is a near-total repudiation of the abortion industry's baseless claims and a huge victory for the rule of law and Virginia's common-sense measures to protect women's health, safety, and ensure their fully-informed consent before making an irreversible decision to end the life of their unborn child.

The Court upheld nearly every one of the health and safety standards for inspections in abortion centers, as well as the hospital requirement for surgical and post-viability 2nd-trimester and all 3rd-trimester abortions, the requirement that only a physician may perform the procedure, and all of Virginia's informed consent law, which includes the opportunity to view an ultrasound image and a mandatory 24-hour wait period after the ultrasound and prior to an abortion.

Your faithful prayers have been answered! And the hard-fought pro-life victories of over 40 years in Virginia have nearly all been affirmed by this opinion. This outcome is especially noteworthy because it comes in spite of the fact that our own Attorney General Mark Herring, the abortion industry's greatest ally, again refused to defend our laws, but instead opted to hire outside counsel who proved throughout the litigation all too willing to cede critical issues without a fight. 

While the opinion was an overall win, especially considering the number and nature of the laws that were challenged, we are very disappointed that the Court chose to grant abortion facilities the ability now to perform “pre-viability” 2nd-trimester abortions, instead of the far safer and more accountable hospital setting the statute required for any abortion past the first trimester. The Court reasoned that, since just two Virginia facilities routinely perform 2nd-trimester abortions, not allowing abortion facilities to do them is “unduly burdensome” – even though no evidence was ever presented to indicate that any woman in Virginia had any difficulty accessing those facilities.  

Not only will this virtually guarantee more unborn lives will be lost, and more money will flow to the billion-dollar abortion industry, but it presumably leaves it up to profit-driven abortionists to determine when a child is considered "viable" or not. Given that our own Governor – who ultimately oversees the Department of Health – unashamedly maintains that babies who are viable enough to survive an attempted 2nd-trimester abortion should simply be left on a table to die, how in the world could anyone trust Planned Parenthood to restrain themselves from killing viable babies in the 2nd trimester?

While it is true that most abortions take place during the first trimester of pregnancy, we fear this opens the door for later abortions to become more common. Yet as a practical matter, we were already aware that some of these facilities have begun doing 2nd-trimester abortions after Attorney General Herring recently signaled to the abortion centers that they could perform 2nd-trimester abortions without fear of prosecution from his office. The one other unfortunate part of the opinion eliminates certain requirements for design and construction standards, such as halls wide enough to carry a stretcher though, for abortion facilities performing first-trimester abortions, despite the demonstrated need for many of these requirements in a medical setting. At the same time, the Board of Health has already provided variances for this requirement to every facility that has requested it since the regulations took effect in 2011, so there is effectively no change.

We don't yet know whether the abortion industry will appeal the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, so we will continue to monitor the situation. Meanwhile, we praise God for many answered prayers, and for the many continued protections for unborn lives and their mothers. 

Join Us for a Rally at the Supreme Court Oct. 8th!

On Tuesday, October 8th, at 9:00 a.m, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in one of the most important religious freedom cases in decades, Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I will be there to speak out in defense of truth and religious freedom and to support our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who are representing Thomas Rost, the owner of Harris Funeral Homes. 

To learn more about Thomas’s story, read ADF’s post on it here.

We recently joined with other groups in submitting an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in support of the rights of faith-based business owners. At issue in this case is whether federal law’s prohibition against sex discrimination in private employment encompasses people who self-identify as being the sex other than their actual biological sex. This case will have a significant impact on nearly every business in America, but especially for business owners whose faith is central to who they are and why they do what they do.

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You may remember the historic rally from 2017 when the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Jack Philips case.  We need another strong showing this time!  The LGBTQ+ supporters consider this case their Waterloo moment and are expecting large crowds to swarm the steps of the Supreme Court.  But the voice of common-sense and faith-oriented people all across this nation must not be drowned out by those who seek to utterly destroy the very image of God as expressed through male and female, and who would take away others’ rights to privacy, free speech, and religious liberty.  

Please stand with us in this critical moment for our country on October 8th on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

New York City Council Did What?

Earlier this month the Richmond City Council approved a non-binding resolution urging Virginia lawmakers to pass legislation next year prohibiting “conversion therapy” (i.e. talk therapy) that counselors use to help minors overcome unwanted sexual desires. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) described talk therapy as barbaric, abusive, inhumane and regressive in a Twitter statement applauding the resolution, and suggested that counselors should only be “affirming the sexual orientation and identities of all Richmonders.”

This news comes as the Virginia Boards for Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work have all initiated regulations that would impose penalties against counselors who engage in talk therapy, including potentially the revocation of their professional license.

Mayor Stoney and the Richmond City Council now join these regulatory boards in holding that counselors should be permitted to help a minor client to explore and facilitate same-sex feelings, attractions and behaviors, or even to “change” their sex altogether, but must be PROHIBITED from helping a minor client overcome these feelings and urges! This dangerous policy entraps minors in a lifestyle from which they desperately wish to escape and denies the fundamental free speech rights of professional counselors who legitimately wish to help them.

Compare this with the New York City Council, which recently overturned a 2017 policy that punished professional counselors if they provide biologically affirming therapy services to a minor seeking to overcome unwanted transgender feelings or same-sex attraction. The law was worded so broadly that it could apply to “any services,” including private conversations initiated by the patient.

What’s remarkable about this change is that LGBTQ advocates strongly urged the council members to overturn this law, not because they wanted it reversed, but because they fear that the courts may no longer uphold bans on “professional speech.”

Since the law’s passage, it has been challenged in court by Dr. Dovid Schwartz, an Orthodox Jewish psychotherapist who is facing severe penalties and fines for providing talk therapy to patients, and the U.S. Supreme court has handed down a ruling that strongly indicated that these talk therapy bans are not constitutional. In 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in NIFLA v. Becerra – a case involving the free speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers – that speech isn’t unprotected because it's uttered by a professional, specifically rejecting to two lower court decisions that upheld “conversion therapy” bans.

Whether or not the New York City Council’s reversal of the 2017 law was in response to more conservative judges being added to courts or because of the NIFLA decision, the reversal is still a significant victory for many New York counselors that affirms their religious liberty and fundamental speech rights.

Let’s hope that the City of Richmond and Mayor Stoney will take their cue from New York City (just this once!) and recognize that prohibiting a counselor’s free speech is unconstitutional and rescind its misguided resolution.

What Does South Bend and Virginia Have in Common?

This weekend we were horrified to hear about the remains of over 2,000 aborted babies discovered at the Illinois home of abortionist Ulrich Klopfer who died earlier this month.  This gruesome discovery reminds us of the darkness that pervades this life-ending industry whose champions include people like Kermit Gosnell who operated a horrifying abortion facility and also collected aborted babies as trophies.

The Illinois and Indiana Attorneys General, as well as federal authorities, have launched what we hope will be a thorough investigation into the recent discovery of these remains, as well as Klopfer’s South Bend, Indiana abortion practice.

It’s the Gosnells and Klopfers of the world that Virginia pro-life legislators have specifically sought to prevent with necessary health and safety laws and regulations, which protect women who make this unfortunate decision and save some lives in the process.  It's why The Family Foundation vigorously defended important health and safety regulations in court against the Board of Health which sought to eliminate necessary requirements and oversite.  And it’s these very laws and regulations that Planned Parenthood and their cohorts are seeking to have overturned in Whole Women’s Health v. Oliver, in which a decision by Judge Hudson is expected to be handed down any day.

What’s interesting is that after Klopfer’s South Bend facility was shut down for violating health and safety regulations, abortion advocates blamed so-called “TRAP laws,” which they say impose overly burdensome standards, administrative requirements, and basic health codes, for the closing.  These are the same arguments that have been made in Whole Women’s Health v. Oliver.  Ironically, Whole Women’s Health recently opened an abortion center in South Bend – without having to comply with state licensing requirements due to a court injunction.

This news has national implications, but in a strange twist there is a unique connection to the Whole Women’s Health federal case and the upcoming Virginia elections this fall.

Democratic presidential hopeful and Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, who recently stated that abortion is permissible until the baby breathes his or her first breathe, has been an ardent supporter of a Whole Women’s Health clinic that began operating in South Bend.  But not only is he an ardent supporter, he personally tried to ensure their monopoly on vulnerable women by vetoing a rezoning request to allow a pregnancy resource center to operate next door to the abortion center.  The pregnancy resource center eventually secured a properly zoned location directly across the street from the abortion center to offer support for women facing crisis pregnancies.

Now Buttigieg is being embraced by some pro-abortion legislators during campaign stops in Northern Virginia.

But it should be of no real surprise that pro-abortion Virginia legislators would embrace Buttigieg and his radical pro-abortion stance, since they perfectly align with the abortion-up-to-birth for any reason bill introduced this year by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) and Governor Northam’s comments defending infanticide.

Last week Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) said that “the work of a lifetime is the work of two afternoons” if the majority changes hands in November.  Pro-abortion liberals are poised to usher in “Buttigieg-Tran-Northam” abortion values that will diminish the sanctity of life, threaten the lives of the women, and lead to another Gosnell or Klopfer if they gain control of the General Assembly this November 5th.

Please join us in doing whatever you can to make sure that doesn’t happen!

Transforming Virginia “in Two Afternoons”

“The work of a lifetime is the work of two afternoons.”

That’s all it’ll take, according to Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D – Arlington) at a recent town hall event, for House Democrats to pass every one of their prized progressive policies if they are able to regain the majority in Virginia’s General Assembly this November. In the span of a few days, just months away from now, Planned Parenthood and their cohorts at NARAL-Pro Choice Virginia intend to use the Democrats to reverse 40 years (the work of a lifetime) of hard-fought pro-life gains! 

His point is essentially correct, and this should motivate every freedom-loving Virginian to do anything they can to prevent it. If “Kathy Tran Abortion” supporting candidates take the majority in the House of Delegates, the outlook for Virginia becomes very bleak, and Virginia could soon look like California or New York. Liberals would also have to take over the state Senate, too, but they’re only one seat away with lots of opportunities. Even at 20-20 (It’s currently 21R – 19D), the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D) breaks all ties, and we know how that will go.

According to Blue Virginia, here are a few of the “progressive” policies modeled after New York that will likely be advanced in Virginia if the majority changes hands:

  • Ratification of the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), which would enshrine abortion into the U.S. Constitution;

  • Repeal the religious exemption for childhood vaccinations that violates parents’ religious beliefs

  • Prohibiting biologically affirming counseling, or so-called “conversion therapy,” for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria

  • Decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use; and

  • Codifying Roe v. Wade into state law, guaranteeing women’s “right” to an abortion up until birth, regardless of whether the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

Far Left groups recognize this and are investing millions of dollars in support of Democrats to turn Virginia blue this November. Make no mistake, pro-abortion and LGBTQ groups are acutely aware that if Democrats can pick up just one or two more seats, there will be almost nothing that can stop them from ramming through every radical policy to further diminish the sanctity of life, marriage, the family, and religious freedom.

 Yet as true as it may be that Democrats could pass a lifetime of work in just one Session next year, it’s just as true to say that if we elect conservative, pro-life candidates this November we can protect a lifetime of pro-family and pro-life achievements.  There’s still time to preserve what remains of our strong foundation!

 The first thing you need to do is register to vote.  With this election being one of the most important in our lifetimes, it is imperative that pro-life, pro-family Virginians show up like never before to cast their ballots on November 5. Secondly, consider volunteering to speak on behalf of candidates who share your values by door knocking, attending campaign events, or writing op-eds to the newspaper. Don’t forget that in 2017 the House majority was literally decided by pulling Delegate David Yancey’s name out of bowl to determine the winner of House District 94, which ended in a tie.  This year, it could be your voice and activism that changes the mind of a voter, maybe even THE voter who decides the outcome of a race.

 Together, we can fend off the radical forces that seek to undermine our foundational principles that for a lifetime have shaped our culture for the good of all. And together, for our Commonwealth and its next generation, we must.

 

 

 

VA Health Boards are Literally Banning the Gospel

The Virginia Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work have recently decided to wage an unprovoked war with the object of destroying not only basic human biology and the rights of Christian professionals in these fields, but in fact the very message of the Gospel itself.

Seeking to use the coercive power of the state to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” these health boards are on a zealous pursuit to punish any licensed counselor, psychologist, or social worker merely for speaking with a minor client with the aim of helping them to reduce or eliminate unwanted feelings of same-sex sexual attractions or gender dysphoria. In other words – for aiding a young person, in a culture of unprecedented confusion, to recognize and embrace their personhood as God designed – a fully, biological, immutable, unmistakable male or female with a complementarian sexual nature and body. 

These McAuliffe-Northam appointed Boards have now made it their official position to condemn “conversion therapy” because (citing the American Counseling Association) “it does not work, can cause harm, and violates our Code of Ethics.” In doing so, they reprehensibly ignore – and even deny the very existence of – countless individuals who through counseling have found healing and transformation from their LGBTQ-defined past. Not only is change and wholeness possible for people seeking to overcome those very real feelings, but many who obtain therapy go on to lead far healthier and happier lives. That’s according to their own personal testimonies – read some of them at CHANGED, Fearless Identity Inc., and Freedom March

In spite of this undeniable proof, these Boards actually maintain that giving professional guidance to a confused and developing child towards accepting the biological realities of their unchangeable sex is categorically HARMFUL to the child! Despite having received a combined total of zero client complaints ever from this therapy, these Boards are nevertheless going out of their way to ensure that any licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or social worker who dares to assist a child in this way will face losing their state-issued license to practice altogether.

Now consider that, according to a recent Gallup poll, a full 75% of Americans self-identify as Christian. The basic message and belief of the Christian faith, boiled down to its essence is that, while every person is affected by, even enslaved to, and spiritually dead in their sinful state, God stepped in and made a way for us to be made holy and new. Through faith in His son Jesus, God makes us spiritually alive with a new nature subservient to His will for us, and no longer captives to our old inclinations or ways of thinking. That, in a nutshell, is what Christians call “the gospel.” (Gospel means “good news.”)

Yet these Boards’ new position stands in direct opposition to the central claim of the gospel, which Christians recognize as the great – and only – hope for mankind. With these policies, the Boards are actually preaching a false ‘anti-Gospel’ message to every child struggling with sexual hurt, confusion, and brokenness that:  a) There is nothing wrong with them, b) That they cannot possibly be healed, and that there is no hope for a renewed mind no matter how much they may desire it, and c) The real sin would be to seek to mend what they recognize as broken inside of them. The Apostle Paul preached just the opposite:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Note the pivotal phrase in that passage: “And such WERE some of you.” That is to say, some of them used to be characterized, controlled, or defined by those old passions and habits (including homosexuality, which was very culturally acceptable at that time), but not anymore! For those who had experienced the transformational power of the “good news” of Jesus, they were gone. As Paul reminded them, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Romans 12:2 offers further evidence of the same message: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Whether or not these Boards comprehend that they are targeting and rejecting the very essence of the Christian faith, it doesn’t change the direct impact on Christian professionals’ resulting inability to incorporate the transformational power of the Gospel into their therapy for many who need it and are desperately seeking it. Their policies effectively guarantee that countless struggling and confused children will not be able to receive that guidance from a licensed professional, making it that much more difficult for them to thrive in the body in which they were created – and at the most critical developmental time in their life for those struggles to be addressed and resolved.

Hence, for Virginia’s health regulatory Boards to ban “Conversion Therapy” is for the government to officially deny the validity and power of the Christian Gospel to transform hearts, minds and lives, AND to deny licensed professionals, by threat of force, their fundamental right to share this Gospel with clients who are open to, and even seeking it.

If the Boards are successful in their attempt to do this, it would certainly mark the beginning of a new era in our civil and political landscape. And if somehow they prevail, and the courts do not correct their error, let us pray that those licensed professionals who have themselves experienced the transformative power of the gospel will have the courage to say to those in authority, just as the Apostle Peter did in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Stafford School Board Ignores Parents’ Concerns

Late last night, just after midnight in a still-packed room, after four hours of public comments from over 100 speakers, the Stafford County School Board narrowly voted 4 - 3 to approve two nondiscrimination policies that elevate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a special protected class, ignoring the cries of an overwhelming number of concerned parents in attendance.  The policies give the district’s Superintendent virtually unlimited latitude to interpret and implement them as he sees fit  - including the use of bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities - without any control or approval by the Board.

Adding insult to injury, the Board voted 4-3 against a motion to allow the Board’s legal Memo from their attorney to be made available to the public for the sake of transparency. The four members clearly have something they don’t want the public to know, since the Chairwoman revealed that she was voting against the policy because she agreed with the legal advice the Board was given!

Our Policy team, Todd Gathje and Josh Hetzler, attended the meeting, along with many dozens of parents and allies in the fight against these dangerously misguided policies, and spoke to both the policy and legal consequences they will bring.

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You can watch the entire recorded meeting HERE and read the policies for yourself at the following links:

Proposed New Policy 2420 (Student Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Education Opportunity). 

Proposed Revisions to Policy 4107 (Human Resources Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti-Retaliation).

Over and over again proponents of the policies, including some Board members, claimed that they had NOTHING to do with bathrooms or locker rooms.  And yet, they cited as their primary justification for the policy just one isolated incident last year involving a female student claiming to be “transgender” who was left in the hallway during an emergency drill instead of in the sex-segregated locker rooms with the other students.  If these policies aren’t about allowing students and staff into opposite-sex bathrooms, showers, and changing areas, what are they about?  After all, they already have policies prohibiting bullying and harassment of any student.

Of course, this has everything to do with bathrooms, access to locker rooms, and changing facilities!  In fact Gavin Grimm, the female student from Gloucester County at the center of a major court case involving access to bathrooms, who also spoke last night, explained in an interview that transgender students don’t deserve the stigmatism of having to use single occupant bathrooms.

The School Superintendent, who has every intention of taking this as far as possible, will now be able to establish onerous guidelines for all students, teachers and administrators to follow within every context of the public schools, with very little oversight by the Board.

These policies have opened the door for every student to have unrestricted access to all sex-specific facilities - including locker rooms, showers, or bathrooms of the opposite biological sex - so long as the student merely claims to identify as that sex.  This violates every student’s fundamental, constitutionally protected, right to bodily privacy and will force them into situations that make them feel uncomfortable or fearful.  In addition to concerns about privacy, these policies will compel students, teachers and administrators to use phrases or pronouns that conflict with their beliefs about the biological realities of males and females, or be reprimanded by the school. Many of the parents alluded of former West Point High School teacher, Peter Vlaming, who was recently fired for this very reason after that school board passed a similar policy.

All of this will happen notwithstanding the clear and vocal opposition of parents, who see their fundamental right to control their children’s education and upbringing being eroded and their children now being put in danger by people who might abuse the policies for wrong purposes.

What happened in Stafford last night could be coming to your county, as many school boards have been watching closely to decide whether to consider similar policies.  While we are saddened and outraged by what transpired last night, we will not stop fighting these horrible policies that work to destroy the very fabric of our society.

To all the parents, students, pastors, and concerned citizens in Stafford who submitted comments or spoke out last night, thank you for engaging in this critical battle! As long as this policy stands, this fight is not over.

Board of Health delays action on Abortion health and safety standards ... For Now!

Today the Virginia Board of Health decided to delay the process of watering down abortion center health and safety standards until its December meeting, in front of a noteworthy pro-abortion crowd.  This decision comes several months after The Family Foundation won an important case to undo the illegal regulatory changes made to the standards during Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Despite the large pro-abortion crowd in attendance, and heavy police presence, the Board delayed action pending a decision in the Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver case recently heard in Federal District Court in May/June.

Our staff was at the meeting to speak on behalf of the women who are at severe risk if these regulations are overturned and the thousands of unborn lives tragically ended through abortion.

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While the Board deferred a vote on its proposed changesthe proposed regulations make dramatic alterations to all 38 regulatory sections of the chapter governing abortion facilities.  In fact, they go even further to prevent important and basic oversight of abortion facilities.  The proposed regulations elevate administrative convenience and profit above the health and safety of women seeking an abortion by replacing commonsense health and safety requirements with loosened standards that essentially free abortion providers from any accountability.

For several years, we’ve seen at least a thousand regulatory violations from inspection reports conducted in abortion facilities across Virginia. They have lifted the veil on just how careless, unsanitary and inhumane this industry truly is which endangers the lives of so many women.  One example is the Virginia Health Group, which was so bad that even Gov. McAuliffe's own Health Commissioner shut it down within hours of an inspection of the facility that was triggered by a patient complaint.  As you can see, these regulations help ensure some accountability by revealing the pervasive darkness of an industry that has proven to care more about profiting off of the vulnerably of women facing difficult life decisions.

At the very least, the women making such a terrible – often desperate or coerced - choice should be in a facility that meets basic safety standards, but the $1 billion abortion industry opposes even minimum infection prevention standards, inspection of equipment, and even record-keeping requirement.

We will continue to monitor the Board’s actions and expose how they do nothing but allow the abortion industry to continue to line their pockets with blood money from vulnerable women.

Important Back-to-School Reminders!

For many families across Virginia, this week marks the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  It’s exciting for parents to watch their kids begin a new grade level filled with all kinds of hopes and expectations.

In the midst of all the excitement, however, it’s critical that parents remain mindful of several issues that they and their children will encounter.  More each year it seems parents are bombarded with a host of policies that conflict with their family’s values or religious convictions, so it’s all the more important that you are aware of what these policies are in your school district.

Below are a few significant school policies that you should be aware of as your child enters this new school year.

1.      Family Life Education Opt-Out – At the start of each school year, parents have the opportunity and the legal right to review the school’s family life education (FLE) curriculum (i.e. “Sex Ed”) and decide if they want to “opt-out” their child from participating in this instruction.  FLE topics can be quite sensitive, and often include explicit sexual and graphic content. If you wish to opt your child out of FLE, make sure to get your school’s Opt-Out form, fill it out, sign it, and send it in. To find out what is being taught, look on the school district’s website or contact the school.

2.      Anti-bullying/Suicide content review Beginning this school year, parents now have the right to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools.  And just like with FLE, parents have the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.  Don’t forget to inquire about any anti-bullying/suicide content at your child’s school this year!

3.      Immunization requirements – Every school year, the list of public school immunization requirements seems to grow, and with that comes more chances for them to conflict with parental preferences.  Currently, a student attending a Virginia public school is required to have the immunizations listed on the Department of Health’s website here. However, not all vaccines are required, such as the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV). (For more information about this, please read the Focus on the Family statement here.) Additionally, the state Code provides for a religious exemption from ALL vaccines for students whose parents submit an affidavit to the school stating that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the student's religious tenets or practices. 

4.      Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policies – Are you aware of any “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) policies at your child’s school?  Does the possibility of a student of the opposite sex entering the bathroom or changing room with your child concern you?  Some school boards around Virginia have been implementing extreme nondiscrimination policies for students and staff by adding special (SOGI) protections.  In order to protect the safety and dignity or your child, it’s important that you are aware of any such SOGI policies that have been adopted by your local school board and how they impact your child.

These reminders are not meant to overwhelm you or diminish the excitement of the new school year, but rather to encourage you to remain active in your child’s school.  Our public schools should never be used as a laboratory for social engineering or become a place that is constantly challenging the rights of parents to direct the education or welfare of their children. They should be a safe place for students to enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow, develop long-lasting friendships, enjoy fun extra-curricular activities and prepare for their future, without all of the drama induced by radical ideologies.

We hope that all parents and children have a wonderful and successful 2019-2020 school year!   

It’s Women’s Equality Day…Because Women Already ARE Equal!

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment. On August 26, 1920, the Secretary of State certified the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. It was an important moment in United States history that ensured women along with men had a voice in our democratic process.

In honor of “Women’s Equality Day,” Governor Northam illuminated the Governor’s mansion over the weekend with purple, gold and white lights.

VAratifyERA held a small rally yesterday on the steps of the Virginia Capital, followed by a “party” at the Governor’s mansion, to celebrate “Women’s Equality Day” and to officially kick-off their 2020 campaign to ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The Left is determined more than ever to make Virginia the 38th state to approve the ERA after failing ratification by one vote in the Virginia House of Representatives this year.  Last year, Illinois became the 37th state to formally approve the ERA, leaving ratification of the amendment and recognition under the U.S. Constitution only one state shy of the 38 needed.

The Family Foundation has long argued that ratification of the ERA is a moot issue because it failed to receive approval by the requisite number of states by the 1982 deadline, as ruled in the case NOW, Inc. v. Idaho.  Not only that, but the ERA is also a moot issue simply because in our current culture it is not needed.

While there are certainly women who experience inequitable treatment, these situations are nearly always instances where the culture needs to align with the law, not reasons to add more laws.  If properly brought to court under the dozens of laws, their situation should be rectified. It is unfortunate our society still devalues women in so many ways but Virginia laws do not.  In fact, most states like Virginia already have laws in place to address some of the real or perceived disparities between men and women, such as equal pay for equal work.

So, if basically everyone agrees that women and men should be, and are, equals under the law, you might ask why not just go ahead and pass the ERA, which simply states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”?

That’s because a closer examination of the ERA makes it clear that it has less to do with equality and more to do with making men and women the same, as well as enshrining abortion into the U.S. Constitution.  The reality is the ERA is a Trojan Horse intended to advance radical Left-wing objectives such as unrestricted taxpayer-funding of abortion and special legal rights based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”  Moreover, the language in ERA sets up the ability for liberal judges to interpret the term "sex" to mean something other than biological male and female, as numerous federal courts have recently begun to do with statutes with that term, resulting in special legal rights to people on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The direct effect of this has been to trample on religious liberty and conscience protections.

For more examples of the destructive outcomes of the ERA should it ever be ratified, read our blog here.

Groups like VAratifyERA are masking their effort to enshrine abortion into the Constitution and redefine the term “sex” into whatever satisfies their ideological hunger with a deceptive statement that seems innocent and reasonable.  Don’t be fooled or swayed by their tactics.

We don’t need a constitutional amendment to affirm something that is already true – that women are equal and deserving of all the rights and privileges under the Constitution of the United States.

Gov. Northam Wants to Lock Teens in Transgenderism. Stop Him.

Disgraced Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has directed his Board of Counseling to punish any counselor who responds to a teen’s cry for help to accept her own physical biology. 

That’s called putting politics in front of people. 

You have heard of these bans. They’re sometimes called bans on “conversion therapy.” LGBT activists describe nightmarish scenarios of cruel methods used on “gay” people to make them “straight,” without any real evidence, to get what they really want: sweeping bans to outlaw not only cruel methods, but all therapy. Even talk therapy. 

They are speech bans, pure and simple.

Eighteen states have already thrown their teens under the bus. Democrats in Virginia have tried and failed to impose these speech bans through the legislative process. So Northam is doing it through the back door, through executive branch planned regulations.

They ban speech about unwanted same-sex attraction, but also about unwanted transgender feelings.

The regulations would ban talk therapy that “seeks to change” a young person’s “gender identity,” including “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions.”

Gosh, that almost sounds like these regulations would stop Fairfax County public school “sexperts” from trying to convince little boys that they might really be girls. 

But read on. The regulations specify that the ban does not prohibit counseling “that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender transition” or that provides “acceptance” and “support” for a person’s “identity exploration.” 

You got that? It’s a one-way street. Under Northam’s ban, counselors are only allowed to use words that promote transgenderism—they cannot use words to help someone avoid it. 

As a philosophical matter, this is outrageous. Its legality is dubious.

But look at the real-world impact of this policy.

Say a girl suffers from gender dysphoria. Say at some point she “socially transitions” to living as a boy. Maybe she got the idea in her Fairfax County Sex Ed class. Now she wants help living as a girl. 

Governor Northam wants to make sure she can’t get it. 

Ah, but if she wants help living as a manthat she can find. 

It’s a one-way ratchet. It’s the Hotel Transgender. You can check in, but you can never leave.

If you live in Virginia, you can tell Governor Northam what you think of his proposed regulations. He is playing politics with real people’s lives. And partisan politics should not be used to ban biology-affirming counseling for patients who want it. 

August 7th is the deadline to offer comments on the initial stage of the planned regulations. 

Please go to the Virginia Town Hall website HERE, click on “Enter a comment,” and tell Northam’s Board why this counseling ban is a very bad idea!

By Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow of Legal Studies at Family Research Council

It's a magnet for crime!

“Nothing to see here. We have this all under control.” At least that’s what Rosie’s Gaming Emporium (owned by Colonial Downs), a venue with historical horse racing machines that look and act like casino-style slot machines, is hoping you will believe.

In the past three months since it’s opened, police have been contacted 50 times about criminal and deviant behavior at Rosie’s New Kent location. And since its July 1 opening, the Richmond Police have been called to Rosie’s Gaming Emporium on Midlothian Turnpike 12 times in just the first ten days.

That’s more than one visit per day since the Richmond location opened!

The list of crimes includes: stolen wallets, assault in the parking lot, indecent exposure, harassment, intoxication, grand larceny, physical altercation, and trespassing.

Oh, but there is no need to worry according to Colonial Downs, because it has addressed safety concerns by hiring 40 security guards at the Richmond location alone, and has apparently increased its surveillance of the parking lot area.

That’s a relief. I feel so much better now.

However, while I am certain that Colonial Downs has acquired highly capable and qualified security personnel, the focus of their work is geared more towards protecting the patrons that are at the venue or preventing any disruptions to the gaming atmosphere. Let’s face it, if a casino or any other gaming establishment hires security guards to monitor the facility then their first level of interest is going to be to protect the “house.”

But we have to be somewhat fair and say that what’s happening in and around Rosie’s is not entirely their fault. If we are even a little honest with ourselves, we should admit that what’s happening at Rosie’s has less to do with their quality of security and more to do with the fact that casinos and casino-style gaming venues are a magnet for all kinds of crimes and deviant behavior.

The Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice have found significant links between gambling, crime, drug use and arrestees. According to one study, problem gamblers are 84% more likely to use hard drugs and 31% are more likely to binge drink. We also know that 3 out of 5 problem gamblers use criminal activity to fund these addictions. Gambling also leads to the human exploitation of various kinds, as problem gamblers are 260% more likely to hire a prostitute.

Those who enjoy frequenting places like Rosie’s might as well get used to the uptick in drugs, crime and prostitution, given that this is the pattern with almost all casinos. It only took the first ten days to prove true for Rosie’s.

Look no further than Atlantic City, NJ, which went from 50th to 1st in the nation in per capita crime after casino operations began in the 1970s.

Maybe this year Rosie’s should consider making a special charitable donation through its “Give Back” program to the Richmond Police and New Kent Sheriff’s Office for all of their time they will spend investigating crimes at its Richmond and New Kent locations.

The NEA Finally Admitted It!

Last month the National Education Association (NEA) adopted Business Item 56 that makes official its support for abortion – something we have suspected for years.  Once again, the NEA, and by extension the Virginia Education Association (VEA), have shown us that they are less about education and more about advancing an ideologically liberal agenda. This has become abundantly clear in their VEA fund endorsements made earlier this year, a list where you won’t find a single pro-life candidate.

Business Item 56 states the following:

“Furthermore, the NEA will include an assertion of our defense of a person's right to control their own body, especially for women, youth, and sexually marginalized people. The NEA vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.”

On average, a public school teacher pays the NEA $192 in annual dues.  In return teachers are able to take advantage of benefits like shopping discounts, life insurance plans, and student loan forgiveness programs.  The NEA, despite their best efforts to convince us otherwise, uses the dues to pay for political activities that often conflict with a teacher’s personal convictions.  Now with the adoption of Business Item 56, the NEA will use a percentage of teachers’ dues to fund its political activities to specifically promote abortion.

The NEA, the largest teachers’ union in the United States with 2.2 million members, says its mission is to “advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”  Clearly their adoption of an organizational policy supporting Roe v. Wade and the abortion industry is inconsistent with its stated mission and elevates a liberal ideology above the interests of its members.  The position expressed by the NEA will be in direct conflict with the values and principles that many teachers hold regarding the sanctity of life.

But there are several alternatives to the NEA without the political agenda.  That’s right, a public school teacher doesn’t have to join the NEA to receive helpful benefits and be part of a network of likeminded teachers dedicated to teaching our youth.

Instead public school teachers should consider joining one of the following groups:

1.    American Association of Educators (AAE) - AAE is a non-profit professional association that serves thousands of teachers across the country.  They describe themselves as a “national, non-union, professional educators' organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation” that seeks to promote professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda.” (Emphasis added.) 

As a member of AAE, a teacher will receive many of the same benefits that the NEA “promises,” including liability insurance, shopping discounts, scholarships, grants, and legal services, but with a lower annual membership fee.

2.    Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) – A teacher interested in being part of a Christian-based organization should consider CEAI, which offers many of the same benefits but with a missional component.  In addition to membership benefits such as legal services, insurance and store discounts, CEAI provides a ministry to equip teachers to be “missional educational leaders.”

3.    Virginia Professional Educators - VPE is a nonprofit professional group for Virginia teachers that also provides many of the same benefits the VEA offers, but at a lower cost and without the “partisan politics and controversial social agendas of teacher unions.”  VPE is a growing professional group for teachers with several thousand members.

It’s time to dismantle the illusion that the only professional group for teachers is the NEA.  Teachers should be made aware that there are other groups that offer professional development without the stress of being connected to political positions that may conflict with their personal beliefs.

How is this possible?

This week, Virginia politicians from both sides of the aisle and many in the media are trumpeting CNBC’s announcement that the Old Dominion is once again the “Best State for Business.” 

CNBC’s survey was based on criteria like, economy, infrastructure, quality of life, education, technology business friendliness, etc. 

But, according to many politicians – from former Governor Terry McAuliffe and current Governor Ralph Northam – to state Senators and Delegates of both political parties, and a host of special interests, quite frankly it should be impossible for Virginia to be the best state for business.

Why?

Well, according to these so-called “progressive” leaders, Virginia isn’t very “open and welcoming.”  You see, for the better part of the past decade, the media and political class have claimed that businesses and education leaders and technology gurus and everyone else it seems wouldn’t come to Virginia because the General Assembly hasn’t elevated “sexual orientation and gender identity” to protected classes.

Oh, and those anti-women “anti-abortion” laws are terrible for business, too.

Oops.

Of course, none of the rhetoric spouted by those claiming that Virginia’s economy suffers because the Commonwealth has chosen to minimally protect unborn children and religious liberty is true.  For the most part, low tax and regulation states are at or near the top of the “Best States for Business” list, while those with the most extreme pro-abortion and pro-LGBT laws tend to linger at or near the bottom.  Why? Because smart business leaders don’t base economic decisions on anything other than economic facts, not emotional hysteria (even Amazon decided to come to Virginia). 

This won’t stop the rhetoric, however, or the bills.  There’s little doubt that we’ll see Delegate Kathy Tran’s infamous abortion-at-any-point-through-birth bill again in 2020.  We’ll see the dozen or so bills elevating sexual behavior to special status in our laws, threatening religious liberty and making many religious small business owners left feeling rather, well, unwelcome. 

But the line will stay the same – if we don’t pass these bills the economy will suffer. 

Except it won’t.  Virginia’s economy will do just fine as long as taxes are relatively low and the regulatory environment is somewhat less crushing than neighboring states.  Businesses go where they can make money – which for most business owners is sort of the point. 

By the way, CNBC ranked New York state, which adopted its own version of Delegate Tran’s “welcome to everyone except babies” 27th. 

Our Team Has You Covered: Special Session, LGBTQ+ meetings, and more

News out of Richmond yesterday focused entirely on the General Assembly, which convened a rare Special Session on gun control at the call of the Governor in response to the deadly shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31. (Read our critique of the Governor's rhetoric in our blog entitled Why We Need More "Thoughts and Prayers") Realizing that this gathering was little more than a political exercise to boost the Governor’s party in November’s election, we used the opportunity to meet with as many legislators as possible to discuss other important pro-family issues.

The day was over as quickly as it started.  Leaders from both chambers sent the handful of bills introduced to be studied by the Virginia State Crime Commission, and moved to reconvene on November 18.

While some of our Policy team was at the Capitol for the Special Session, others were monitoring the Department of Health's presentation on "Virginia's LGBTQ+ Health Equity Symposium and Data Collection for LGBTQ Populations."

Yes, this is what our state government is busy doing! And we’re here to make sure that someone is watching, speaking, and acting on behalf of your values.

The Symposium overview, provided by the state's "Transgender Health Services Specialist", centered largely on recommendations for the state to change its medical processes, forms, and state employee training and policies to fully incorporate transgender ideology into state government. (See sample below.)

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It was clear from this meeting that our state government is seeking to eliminate what it believes are “social stigmas” because, according to them, that is the cause of higher levels of HIV, stress, anxiety and even clinical depression in those identifying as LGBTQ+. While its important to treat every person with the utmost dignity and respect and to help every person struggling with physical and mental health issues, it's dangerous of the Department of Health to overlook the reality of the negative health consequences directly associated with these lifestyles.

The Department of Health is also pursuing the same radical compelled speech that caused West Point high school teacher Peter Vlaming to get fired.  As the presenter of the study stated, "people need to use preferred pronouns, even if they're uncomfortable with it."  Here are some more troubling things we learned at the meeting:   

  • Planned Parenthood was touted for its services to LGBTQ+ patients

  • The Department of Health intends to implement questions involving gender identity, “sex assigned at birth”, and “preferred gender pronouns” into all its patient intake forms.

  • LGBTQ+ training needs to be done with all VDH staff, and possibly with all state employees.

  • The Governor is currently looking to hire a Director of Equity and Inclusion to implement all of the presenter's recommendations for implementing these policies throughout all state agencies.

Of course, any of these changes would infringe on many state employees’ deeply held religious and personal convictions. Commissioner Norman Oliver understands this and stated that to implement these recommendations would “require a cultural change within the state agencies" that he expected to take place in between one to two years.

There are so many important issues to stay on top of in our Commonwealth, and we are here working hard – often in several places at once – to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks as we seek to preserve and promote strong families. We appreciate your continued partnership and prayers.

Changing Hearts and Minds About Abortion

A majority of Americans are decidedly not “pro-choice.”  This is according to a recent Gallup poll  in which 49% of respondents reported that they consider themselves pro-life, compared to 46% who identify as “pro-choice.”  This marks the first time since 2013 that a majority of survey respondents in a major poll identify as pro-life.

The notable shift in polling shows that hearts and minds can be and are being changed, which is arguably more important than any law we could pass.  You see, we don’t have to wait until the legislature passes laws that limit abortions or until Roe v. Wade is overturned in order to end this scourge on our society, though we should still work diligently to make those happen.  We can actually have an immediate impact in our communities by changing the hearts and minds of people on this issue.

That being said, public opinion on abortion has no doubt had a significant impact on abortion policies across the country, resulting in a flurry of laws aimed at either curbing abortion or expanding it.

The ideological Left and abortion advocates nationwide are going crazy over new laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri that establish important restrictions on abortion in those states.  So much so, that they are passing their own radical abortion-on-demand bills in states like Illinois and New York that will allow abortion for any reason up until the moment of birth.

The issue of abortion has become so heated of late that in response to Georgia’s “Heartbeat Bill”, Hollywood is actually boycotting the state.  Hollywood elites and abortion proponents seem to be concerned about the strong possibility that a case will come before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges its current Roe v. Wade precedence, especially as the makeup of the Court is trending more and more strict constructionist.

Last month we concluded our “No Pink Lights Over Richmond Tour” around the Commonwealth in which we discussed legislation concerning the sanctity of life.  We were encouraged to receive positive feedback and great participation.  During the Q&A Session following one of the presentations, a participant asked what our thoughts were on the recent heartbeat legislation being pushed in other states and whether we could expect something like that here in Virginia.  Given what transpired in Virginia this year, it would not be surprising to see “Heartbeat” legislation introduced next year.  But let’s more fully unpack the context of the heartbeat legislation.

In an attempt to start the process of challenging Roe v. Wade, Alabama passed a law that makes it a felony to perform an abortion except in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, effectively eliminating the practice of abortion in the state.  Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law on May 15, 2019 and issued the following statement:

"No matter one's personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable.  As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions.  Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973.  The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur."

The Alabama law sets in motion what will inevitably become a contentious and long legal battle that will take years to traverse the court system.  Only time will tell if the case ever makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Regardless, this law was clearly a bold move to return the issue of abortion back to the states by forcing the Supreme Court to finally reconsider (and overturn) the landmark 1973 decision.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced the “Abortion is Not Health Care Act”, which could disincentivize some abortions by disallowing taxpayers from deducting abortion costs from their taxable income.  Under Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code, abortion expenses paid during the taxable year that were not covered by insurance, by the taxpayer, his/her spouse, or a dependent may be deducted from income if they exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income.

These legislative actions represent two important approaches to policy-making with slightly different intended purposes.  The first approach, which is the primary purpose of the Alabama law, is to impose certain restrictions on abortion that would trigger a legal challenge that is intended to reach the Supreme Court.  The second approach is a pragmatic form of policy-making meant to restrict, defund, and limit abortions.  While the later approach doesn’t strike at the heart of the abortion issue like the Alabama law, it is extremely valuable for keeping an abortion industry that desperately wants conduct its activities uninhibited in check. 

For example, the legislature in Virginia has incrementally imposed vital protections for mothers, such as informed consent, 24 hour waiting periods, requirements that second trimester abortions to be performed in hospitals, and ultrasound requirements, to name a few.  These pragmatic laws force abortion providers to follow strict rules so as to at least ensure the safety and informed consent of vulnerable women considering such a consequential decision.  For the abortion industry, however, they are seen as an impediment to more profit.  These achievements didn’t happen overnight, and they could easily be eliminated if legislation like Delegate Kathy Tran’s bill (HB 2491) is ever passed. 

We know these vital protections and safety standards work because they were vigorously challenged by the abortion industry in Falls Church Women’s Center v. Oliver.  For a summary of this case and what happened during the bench trial, you can read our blog posts “Falls Church v. Oliver", "The Plaintiffs Rest",  "Defense Makes Its Case", and “Case Closed”.

The reality is that until the Supreme Court is filled with the right-minded judicial philosophy necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade precedence, we must continue to share our hearts for the unborn and exercise compassion for mothers struggling with this decision.That’s where the greatest change is going to happen.

Why We Need More “Thoughts and Prayers”

Governor Northam just unveiled his “Gun Violence Prevention” legislation ahead of the July 9th Special Session, which he called in response to the recent shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal center. In his statement, he rightly points out that “We continue to lose too many lives to senseless and preventable acts of gun violence.” But it’s what the Governor said next – as his top-line messaging, no less – that should really get our attention.  

“Now is the time to act—Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers,” he declared.

It sounds catchy, even clever. It strikes me initially as the kind of “tough talk” one appreciates in a chief executive from time to time. The problem is, it’s not true. But not only is it not true, the exact opposite is true.

Here’s what I mean. The Governor reveals his view of the world as being that if anything bad happens in society, it’s primarily because the government wasn’t big enough to prevent it in the first place, and therefore the necessary solution to every problem is more “votes and laws.” Under his philosophy, if we can just pass some more laws, so that the state can exercise maximum control over people, we will be able to ensure peace, order, and the preservation of life. A cursory review of the 20th century amply demonstrates the tragic folly of this theory.

But his worldview doesn’t stop there. He goes even further by indicating that Virginians do not need “thoughts and prayers” as a response or solution for evil and suffering that is hard to make sense of. To him, these are meaningless platitudes void of any real power or influence. The great irony here is that these are exactly what we need more of if we are to have any hope of preventing much of the evil in our midst, while the laws he seeks to enact could never stop anyone determined to carry out destruction.     

If we want to prevent evils in society, we should start by encouraging more “thoughtful” dialogue among people, especially when it is typically those in isolation and with misguided thinking who are most prone to hurting others in the ways we too often see. And we need more prayer – both in our individual lives and corporately. We have to realize that while every one of us has so very little control over others and society, we have the tremendous opportunity to appeal to the One who has all control. We must also recognize that it will require a much greater force than civil government to make men good. Only by loving one another, learning how to walk and communicate in love, and drawing strength and purpose from the God who IS love can we actually successfully prevent such great evil acts. I can’t say what “Virginians deserve”, but I know that is what they need.

The best way for anybody to experience that kind of thoughtfulness and to learn that kind of spiritual truth is in the context of a loving family. Every person enters this world and finds his or her identity largely in the context of a family. The solution for senseless acts of violence is not more government – it’s strong families. And in order to cultivate strong families, government has to stay out of the way.

So, to Governor Northam and all Virginians, I say: Now is the time to act – Virginians need more thoughtfulness and fervent prayer, not votes and laws.