Controversial Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) has proposed an amendment to the state budget that would withhold “state money for abortions, including cases in which the health of the mother is at risk or the child might be born with a deformity. Under the proposal, money could be spent on abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk” — thus meeting the bare minimum requirements of the federal Hyde Amendment.
Lawmakers will now have “a week to consider the governor’s alterations before returning Wednesday for a one-day reconvened session in which they can override the amendments or write them into law.”
McDonnell’s position is somewhat ironic, however. His new funding restrictions are intended to encourage women to go through with their pregnancies, but his other budget proposals would actually make it more difficult for mothers to obtain government assistance. For instance, McDonnell “proposed capping state spending on comprehensive services for at-risk and troubled children. The change would result in a $9.9 million cut to funding for programs that were already reduced by $86 million over two years.”
Currently, Virginia prohibits public funding for abortion for women eligible for state medical assistance for general health care unless: (1) the physician certifies that the woman’s life or health would be substantially endangered if (2) the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest that has been reported to a law-enforcement or public-health agency; or (3) a physician certifies that the fetus will be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency. Moreover, a woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after a provider offers a medical explanation of the procedure, the probable gestational age of the fetus and offer to review state-prepared materials about alternatives to abortion.
Virginia, which is already spearheading it’s own constitutional challenge to health care reform, may also soon offer legislation that would strip abortion coverage from the exchanges established under the new health care reform law, a conservative anti-abortion site is reporting.