Planned Parenthood Funding, Criticism of State attorney General, and Budget Amendments
A conservative group has petitioned the Governor to ban state funding for Planned Parenthood, the Attorney General is receiving criticism from environmental groups because of his petition to the EPA challenging their position on global warming and legislators continue to react to Governor McDonnell’s budget amendments.
The Virginia Christian Alliance came to Capitol Square yesterday to unveil a petition signed by Reverend Pat Robertson, Reverend Jerry Falwell and other Christian leaders asking Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to block all state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Republican Delegate Bob Marshall of Loudon has introduced the budget amendment to put this in the state code. Marshall says that Planned Parenthood receives 500,000 dollars of state money annually.
Marshall: We are dealing with is trying to defund a malevelant organization. This organization should be called Planned Barenhood because they have nothing to do with families, they have nothing to do with responsibility. One forth of all abortions are performed by Planned Parenthood in the United States.
Jessica Honke is the Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.
Honke: Currently Planned Parenthood in Virginia, they are currently not receiving state funding. The last time we received state funding was 2007 and it was about 200,000 dollars a year for prevention and education services. Right now the only funding that we receive is when we see Medicaid patients, so Medicaid patients can use Planned Parenthood as their health care provider. If they were able to defund Planned Parenthood, Medicaid Patients would not be able to use them as their health care provider.
Honke says that Planned Parenthood serves at the primary health care provider for 1,000 state Medicaid patients and provides medical services to over 30,000 patients a year. She notes that it is illegal to use state funds for abortion.
There was no word from the McDonnell Administration as to whether or not they would support Delegate Marshall’s budget amendment.
Honke: What we use the money for is women’s healthcare services; gynecological visits, pap-smears, cancer screenings, STI which is Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing and treatment, contraception. 93 percent of our services are prevention services that I've mentioned before like gynecological care, cancer screening and prevention. Only 7 percent of our services are abortion services.
Also this week Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a petition challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s stance that global warming poses a threat to people.
Cuccinelli: The finding is arbitrary and capricious in light of the existing record. We have questioned the EPA’s utter failure to conduct it’s own independent scientific review. Instead the EPA has functionally redelegated its authority to review critical data to the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. That decision now appears to have left the EPA relying on data that is unreliable, unverifiable and doctored. This is a major sovreignty concern in addition to the mere process. Are we going to outsource major influence over American regulation to entities outside the United States not bound by our scientific standards. Virginia objects to this course.
Glen Besa, director of the Sierra Club in Virginia, says he believes Cuccinelli’s litigation will be unsuccessful and only waste time in the end.
Besa: We look at the litigation as ideologically based at taxpayers expense and it’s not based on science or the law. The law is clear as to what the U.S. Supreme Court directed the EPA to do. In terms of science, he’s cherry picked a few issues in terms of what the international panel on climate change data. In fact there’s literally thousands of papers that have been published on climate change. He didn’t address the issue that the Arctic Ice cap is disappearing for example. In fact a lot of the international data has underestimated the effects of climate change.
Also legislators are continuing to react to Governor McDonnell’s proposed budget cuts.
Democratic Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria has filed a budget amendment to maintain funding for homeless programs.
Herring: I rise today on behalf of the approximately 7,000 homeless children in Virginia. Standing before you is a delegate who has been homeless. I know what it’s like to leave school and see your friend’s go home and you go to a shelter. Yesterday, we received a letter from our Governor, outlining cost savings and proposals. He proposed eliminating one time expanded tanna spending for homeless assistance and reducing funding for homeless programs by 6 million dollars. We have work to do and serious considerations to take into our minds. I remember a time in the 80’s when people were actually sleeping out in the streets and under wool blankets, and I fear if we do not show some compassion in our budget, we’re gonna see that again. I'm not sure if anythiung has been printed or not. All I know is that we have less than 72 hours, before we see our proposed budget, perhaps we have time to make it clear to our children whether they have a roof over their head or they’re college bound next year or they’re in a tent in the woods and struggling to stay in elementary school, their future matters to us. The way I see it, it’s in our hands. The choice is ours but the future should be theirs.
The House and Senate Budget committees will announce their proposed budgets Sunday afternoon.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.