My reflections and musings on the struggle to leave a Christ-shaped impression on the world of law and public policy.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hearing This Week--Your Assistance Needed!

I have been informed by Delegate Dave Albo, Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, that HB1440--our bill--will likely be heard by the full Committee this coming Friday. This is good news, because it means that the bill will not have to survive a subcommittee hearing before being voted on by the full committee.

That said, there are 22 members of this Committee, and we need to be sure that we will have the votes to get the bill through to the floor of the House. If this happens, it will mean a MAJOR victory for the pro-life cause in Virginia.

Would you please take 5-10 minutes of your time to contact the committee members whose votes on this are uncertain? Of course, it's most helpful to contact your own representative, so if you only have a moment to spare, please do that. But I believe that even if you don't live in a legislator's district, it is helpful for you to contact him or her.

Please DO NOT make the mistake of believing that everyone on this list who has labeled himself "pro-life" and/or is a Republican will vote for the bill. As I learned the hard way last year, THIS IS NOT THE WAY IT WORKS! If we want the vote, they must know that people care about the bill and that people are watching to hold them accountable.

Here is the list of committee members who need to be contacted, a description of their districts and their contact info. Below the list is a sample message you could send. It's best to use your own words, but if your time is limited, please feel free to use the sample. Thank you in advance for your commitment to this cause. We must not grow weary in doing good.

Delegate Dave Albo (R) - Part of Fairfax County - - 804-698-1042
Delegate Terry Kilgore (R) - Lee and Scott, Part of Washington and Wise - - 804 - 698-1001
Delegate Bill Janis (R) - Goochland and Louisa, Part of Henrico - - 804 - 698 - 1056
Delegate Rob Bell (R) - Greene, Part of Albemarle, Fluvanna and Orange - - 804 - 698-1058
Delegate Sal Iaquinto (R) - Part of Virginia Beach - - 804-698-1084
Delegate Chris Peace (R) - New Kent, Part of Caroline, Hanover, Henrico, King and Queen, King William and Spotsylvania - - 804-698-1097
Delegate G. M. Loupassi (R) - Part of Chesterfield and Richmond City - - 804-698-1068
Delegate Ron Villanueva (R) - Part of Virginia Beach - - 804-698-1021
Delegate Bill Cleaveland (R) - Part of Botetourt, Roanoke County and Roanoke City - - 804-698-1017
Delegate Gregory Habeeb (R) - - 804-698-1008
Delegate Joe Johnson (D) - Bristol City, Part of Smyth and Washington - - 804-698-1004
Delegate Ward Armstrong (D) - Patrick, Part of Carroll, Henry and Martinsville - - 804-698-1010
Delegate William Barlow (D) - Surry and Williamsburg, Part of Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, and Franklin City - - 804-698 - 1064

Here's what you might say: "I understand that House Bill 1440 is coming before the Courts of Justice Committee later this week. Please vote for this bill. It creates a cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child and expresses the important principle that human life begins at conception."

Thank you, friends. YOUR voice can make all the difference.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Spiritual Battle

I recently discovered this hymn, written by Isaac Watts. On the days when I need a bit of conviction for my complacency and love of comfort, these lyrics provide plenty...

Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend of grace, to help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign. Increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word.

--Isaac Watts

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Marches

This post is the text of a beautiful Viewpoint written by Dean Welty (Director of the Valley Family Forum) and Deb Medlin, an African American woman. Read on...and be inspired.

A BRUTAL MARCH from Selma. The “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” A massive march on Washington, climaxed by the “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

These are just some of the images that came to mind as we honored the life of Martin Luther King Jr. last weekend, and mourned his tragic death. Over four decades later, we continue to be inspired by his courage and his leadership in the long series of marches that led to a dramatic expansion of civil rights in America for so many who had been so long oppressed.

While time has healed some of the pain and blurred some of the harsh realities of that difficult period, it is good for us to remember that the gains for which he and others fought did not come easily in the face of often deadly opposition from the Ku Klux Klan and lynching mobs.

Nor can we overlook the soft resistance that King faced from a silent and even critical church, some of whose leaders accused him of being “extreme.” They urged him to stop the marches, calling them unwise, untimely, and too confrontational — charges that prompted him to write the letter from a Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963.

In that response, King cited the examples of Biblical heroes like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and American heroes like the Boston Tea Party patriots who engaged in “civil disobedience” against unjust laws. He also referred to other “extreme” examples like Jesus, the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, and Abraham Lincoln who spoke out against injustice and oppression.

Finally, he expressed disappointment in the outright opposition of some churches and their leaders who “have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.” King said he “wept over the laxity of the church” in this struggle.

At the same time, however, he expressed appreciation for other church leaders who were able to break loose “from the paralyzing chains of conformity” and who were able to stand up “for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values of our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Beyond the issue of slavery, King’s legacy is also a reminder of a second battle that is similar in many ways to the one that he fought. That is the battle for life which, like liberty, is based on a principle that is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, for “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is a battle to which King’s niece, Alveda King, lends her support and her voice today.

The parallels between the two battles are striking. They both spring from misguided Supreme Court decisions, Dred Scott in 1857 and Roe v. Wade in 1973, that refused to acknowledge the “personhood” of black people in the first instance and unborn babies in the second.

In addition, they both face(d) the same tired arguments that “You can’t legislate morality and should not impose your morality on others,” and “If you don’t want one (a slave or an abortion), don’t have one.” And in like manner, they face(d) similar attempts to silence their voices and to censor reports of the bloody atrocities taking place in both instances as being in “poor taste.”

The final parallel lies in the fact that both slavery and abortion were determined to be “legal” by the Supreme Court. Moreover, in the case of abortion, the Court mandated that all states make it legal as well, despite the fact that many of them had passed laws making it illegal. This was seen to be “an exercise in raw judicial power”, as dissenting Justice Byron White described it.

That brings us to the second series of marches, following in the footsteps of those led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Every year, for the past 37 years, tens of thousands of Americans gather on the Capitol Mall in Washington to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, calling on the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court to overturn this tragic decision that has led to an estimated 50 million abortions since 1973.

These marchers believe that we too must say today, as King said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, that “We have come here to dramatize a shameful condition, (and like the prophet Amos), we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

by Deb Medlin and Dean Welty

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Productive Day

It was time well spent at the Capitol in Richmond yesterday....I think. Senator Steve Martin has agreed to move for the bill to be referred to the Courts of Justice Committee IF I will be there in person at 8:30 next Thursday morning (just before the meeting) to remind him.

In addition to meeting with Senator Martin, Dean Welty and I were able to make appearances at the offices of 17 other legislators who will be hearing the bill. Yes-SEVENTEEN! That was a lot of interpersonal communication for this introvert!

But it was good that we did it, because our conversations with some of the legislators and the legislative aides of others revealed that many of them had misconceptions about the bill. By clearing up misconceptions and answering their questions in advance of the committee hearing, we are paving the way for smoother passage.

That said, please stay tuned! I will definitely be calling upon you to send e-mails or make phone calls to some of them who may need a little encouragement in the near future!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Day in Richmond--It's Worth The Effort

I am planning to travel to Richmond tomorrow to make what some consider a futile attempt to persuade a few more legislators to either support the bill or refer it to another committee.

Here's some important background:

The Senate Education and Health Committee is commonly referred to as "The Committee of Death." Why? Because this Committee systematically defeats every single piece of pro-life legislation before it can even get to the floor for a vote. It is comprised in such a way that it is almost a foregone conclusion that any pro-life bill assigned to it is dead on arrival. And under the Senate rules, any bill that relates to abortion is assigned to this Committee.

But the thing is, our bill really doesn't belong in the Senate Education & Health Committee to begin with, because it is not an "abortion" bill. The word "abortion" is not even in the bill. Instead, this bill is, in legal terminology, a "rule of construction." It informs the interpretation of other Virginia laws. For instance, it requires the word "person" in Virginia's wrongful death statute (and elsewhere) to include unborn children. This way (in contexts other than abortion), if the negligence of a third party (a drunk driver, for instance) causes an unborn child to die, the parent can sue that person for "wrongful death" just as if a newborn had been killed.

So the bill really has nothing to do with "education" or with "health." It belongs in the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice or for General Laws because it involves the interpretation of other laws and the creation of a type of lawsuit. This is why, on the House of Delegates side, the bill is being heard in the Courts of Justice Committee.

My trip to Richmond tomorrow is for the purpose of urging key members of the Senate Ed & Health Committee to move to refer the bill to another committee, where it would likely receive a more favorable hearing.

Please pray that (1) I am able to meet with these key players tomorrow, and that (2) their hearts would be moved to do what is right.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Remarks at Virginia Rally for Life

Some friends have asked if I could share my remarks from last week's rally at the Capitol in Richmond. This is what I said:

In 1973, the Supreme Court declined to resolve the "difficult" issue of when life begins. Well we need to help them out, Virginia! We know when life begins! Life begins at conception, and Delegate Bob Marshall's House Bill 1440 will spell that out in black and white in Virginia's Code.

We don't want judges deciding for us who is a person and who isn't--who has rights and who doesn't. We simply want laws that recognize the unique dignity of every human life.

The focus of House Bill 1440 isn't on tearing down an ill-conceived "right" created by judges. Instead, it builds up a right given by the Creator--the inalienable right to life.

What legislator can't vote for that?

In Roe v. Wade, the Court said that unborn children had no right to life under the federal Constitution. Well they missed the point! The Constitution doesn't give anyone the right to life--GOD DOES!

It is an inalienable right, and no legitimate government power can sanction its destruction in the womb. If the Supreme Court won't recognize this, the states must.

This is what House Bill 1440 does. And by recognizing the inalienable right to life of the unborn, states can create a counterweight to the mother's rights.

My hope is that we will see justice.

Slavery could not stand in the face of the truth that slaves were persons rather than property.
Friends, legalized abortion will not stand if we insist on laws that reflect the truth and on government that respects its boundaries.

It is time for Virginia law to recognize the inalienable rights of the unborn.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Onward and Upward!

The General Assembly is back in session again. This year we have both a House version (HB1440) and a Senate version (SB1207) of the bill that would establish the humanity of unborn children under Virginia law and create a civil cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child. In other words, if a drunk driver hits a vehicle carrying a pregnant woman and causes the death of her unborn child, the parents could sue the driver for "wrongful death." Most states already recognize this cause of action.

I am encouraged about the progress we have made since last session. Simply by making slight adjustments to the wording of the bill and educating key people about its effects, we have gained the support of:
  • The Rutherford Institute;
  • Americans United for Life;
  • Focus on the Family;
  • The Family Foundation of Virginia;
  • The Virginia Catholic Conference;
  • Concerned Women for America;
  • Virginia Society for Human Life; and
  • Virginia Christian Alliance.

In addition, we have amassed an incredible degree of support among the legislators who will actually debate and vote for the bill. These include:

  • Speaker of the House Bill Howell;
  • Del. Bob Marshall;
  • Sen. Mark Obenshain;
  • Sen. Jill Vogel;
  • Del. Dave Albo;
  • Del. Clay Athey;
  • Del. Ben Cline;
  • Del. Jackson Miller;
  • Del. Dickie Bell; and
  • Del. Todd Gilbert.

Chances for passage in the House of Delegates look good. Of course, the Senate is another story.