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


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Defeated? Yes...and No!

By a straight, party-line vote (10-5), the Senate Education and Health Committee voted to "pass by indefinitely" House Bill 1440. That means that the bill will go no further this year, and will not be called for a vote by the full Senate.

This was completely expected. In fact, today was just another "Black Thursday," so named because every single year in recent history, this Committee kills all of the pro-life legislation that managed to make it through the House of Delegates.

Today, for instance, the Senate Education and Health Committee killed not only this bill on which I have been working, but also the much-needed abortion clinic safety bill, the bill that would prevent insurance plans in Virginia's health insurance exchange from providing abortion coverage, and the bill that would keep HPV vaccines for young girls from being considered "mandatory."

I was proud of Delegate Bob Marshall, the chief patron of my bill, as he introduced the legislation by making it absolutely clear that it should not have even been heard in the Ed & Health Committee, but rather in the Courts Committee! But this assignment was no mere oversight--it is part of a plan.

Despite Senate Rules requirements that each standing committee reflect the overall composition of the entire Senate (22 Democrats, 18 Republicans), this Committee is comprised of 10 Democrats and 5 Republicans. I'm no mathemetician, but those ratios don't pan out as far as I'm concerned.

Moreover, the 10 Democrats on the Committee are not just any Democrats; a review of their voting records reveals them as the most hardened pro-abortion legislators in the Senate.

My experience this year has convinced me that Virginians need to know that these games are being played by their government.

Am I discouraged? No. It has been an honor to do this work. I am inspired by William Wilberforce, who didn't just take a stab at ending slavery once or twice, but who devoted his career to it. Isn't this cause just as important?

Finally, the Weltys (always my encouragers in this endeavor), reminded me this morning of a passage from Ephesians:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:11-13)

Friends, we stood firm today.

If you want to know the truth about what I'm feeling tonight, it's simply this: relief for a break in the battle, satisfaction that we have done all we could do, gratitude for the privilege of carrying His banner, comfort in your prayers and support, hope in His sovereign plan, and confidence in His ultimate victory.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and encouragement.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Virginia House of Delegates Passes The Inalienable Right to Life Bill

Praise God! The bill passed the House yesterday by a vote of 62-36!

On the floor of the House, the legislation faced fierce opposition from three delegates who were on the Subcommittee and Committee where the bill was debated for the past two years. What was telling about their arguments was that they largely centered on the language of the bill that states that "life begins at conception." They objected to the fact that pregnant women and their doctors would have to "consider" the unborn child as a living human being as they make "health care decisions." (!)

In short, their fundamental objection is to the bill's simple statement of Biblical and scientific Truth! But in the end, Truth prevailed in the House of Delegates. To quote a line from Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce's battle against slavery, "There's nothing so lofty about simple humanity."

Friends, the fiercest of battles awaits us in the Senate Committee(s) where the bill will now be heard again. Please continue to stand with us in prayer.

I have no idea whether it will be the pleasure of the King to work a miracle there, but let us stand firm and persist in taking the Truth into darkness.

Finally, if you have not already thanked the legislators of the House Committee on Courts of Justice, please do so (scroll down for the page for the list). But if you only have time to thank two people, please thank Delegate Bob Marshall (, who has been the pro-life champion in the House of Delegates for years, and Delegate David Albo (, the Committee Chairman who had a lot of impact this year on getting the bill through the House.

Thank you all!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


After failing miserably in the Senate Ed & Health Committee on Thursday, The Inalienable Right to Life Bill passed through the House Committee on Courts of Justice last night by a vote of 14-7. Please join me in giving thanks to God for this incredible victory!

Things didn't unfold at all the way I had expected them to. (Isn't that just like our God?) The bill didn't come before the Committee until about 5:00 p.m., and the Chairman had already made it quite clear that he was ready to finish up business and head home for the weekend.

When our bill was called, he announced to the almost-full Committee Room that extensive debate on the constitutionality of the bill had taken place last year, and that the amendments made to the language since then were sufficient to satisfy the Subcommittee's concerns. He therefore was not going to entertain a lengthy debate this time around.

After Delegate Bob Marshall introduced our bill, Chairman Albo asked me to explain to the Committee the purpose of the legislation. I gave my testimony, which, in part, urged the Committee not to accept the unfounded arguments of the bill's opponents. I offered to respond to those arguments in painstaking detail, if necessary.

A few liberal Committee members made half-hearted statements objecting to the bill as a measure that would chip away at women's freedom to "make healthcare decisions," but none of them actually asked me any questions. One of them said, "since no one is going to change their mind, why don't we just vote?" The Committee then voted to report the bill to the full House. The Chairman did not even allow the lobbyists from Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the ACLU to speak!

As we left, I felt oddly let down. After all that happened last year, I was ready for a real fight! On the way home, the Weltys reminded me that this hearing was the culmination of many months of building relationships, reminding legislators of their commitments, researching the answers to their questions and responding to objections.

But what we all realized was that the way things unfolded made it perfectly clear that this battle was truly the Lord's. I didn't win anyone over last night with my well-prepared arguments! God won them--over the course of time--through means that we cannot imagine. But I believe that He may well have used you and me as part of that process, and that is an honor.

Finally, I was impressed that the events of last night bore similarities to the battle of Gideon and the account of Daniel in the lion's den. Gideon and Daniel, respectively, were prepared to engage in battle and, if necessary, to be devoured in service to the Lord's cause. But God did the work. He shut the lions' mouths and sent the enemies away in defeat.

Praise be to Him! He is the same God as He was in the days of Gideon and Daniel! (Don't we forget that sometimes?) Thank you for your faithful prayers. Next up, a vote on the floor of the House and then the Senate Ed & Health Committee, Round 2. Please stay tuned!

Oh, and one more thing--please join me in e-mailing your appreciation to the Delegates listed in my earlier post (scroll down for their e-mail addresses). EVERY ONE OF THEM voted for the bill, perhaps because of your request! You can just say, "Thank you for voting for HB1440."


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prayers for Thursday

I will be headed off to Richmond at an unseemly hour tomorrow morning, along with my faithful advisors/companions, Dean and Janet Welty. 8:30 a.m. will find us in the Senate Education and Health Committee room. This is the Committee many refer to as the "Committee of Death," based on its history of systematically killing any piece of legislation that is even remotely "pro-life."

Senator Mark Obenshain is slated to present his Senate version of The Inalienable Right to Life Bill, and I will be on hand to make a statement in favor of the bill on behalf of The Rutherford Institute and then to answer "questions" from the Committee.

Please pray that I would be wide awake--body, spirit, and mind, and able to articulate the answers to the questions posed, whether posed in good faith or bad. Pray that I would be gracious to the adversaries (who are SURE to be there in full force) and yet that I, and the others there to testify in support of the bill, would be able to boldly stand for Truth and Justice. Please pray that God would grant us wisdom, and that whatever the outcome in this particular Committee, that He would be glorified and His kingdom advanced.