This day has been one wild ride. When we arrived at the Committee room around 7:30 this morning, lines were already forming for those who wanted to watch the 8:30 meeting. Many were there for Planned Parenthood's Lobby Day.
Our hopes were not particularly high that HB1 would survive this Committee. In fact, we were convinced that it would be quite the miracle for that to happen.
The debate was long and heated. Witnesses for our side included myself, David Johnson from the Attorney General's office, one pastor, a couple of individuals and representatives of several pro-life organizations. Witnesses for the other side included the usual suspects (Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU), a few abortionists, and (new this year) infertility patients. The latter (with whom we all sympathize, of course), claimed that IVF treatments would be "outlawed" by HB1, a claim that is far-fetched and completely untrue. In fact, our bill specifically states that it does not affect lawful assisted conception. They argued that fertility treatment was endangered because it could be considered "unlawful" assisted conception. (?)
But when Committee Chairmen Steve Martin allowed me to answer some questioning from Committee members, I was able to articulate the legal answers, and even to distribute a handout containing 3 pages of reasons why the various allegations were untrue.
Of course, having David Johnson from Cuccinelli's office there to testify was huge, and I suspect his presence carried considerable weight with the Committee.
The spiritual battle in that room was almost palpable. A number of times, opponents of the bill (who, again, packed the sizeable room) were threatened with removal for their inappropriate comments and interruptions. At one point, someone was removed.
But when the vote was taken, it was 8-7 to report the bill to the full Senate (a win!). That was incredible!
We made our way out to the lobby, where opponents were chanting and waving their arms. At one point, one of them appeared to take a swing at Delegate Marshall. I was approached by two different women, separately. One of them said, "I hope your organization has deep pockets, because you're going to need them." The other said, "I hope you're really proud of yourself. If you have a daughter, I hope she won't be able to get the services she needs someday." I couldn't resist responding to that one. I replied, "I do have a daughter, and she will be very, very proud of what I have done someday." After a good several minutes, police gave the order to "clear the lobby."
Opponents proceeded outside, where they lined the street with their signs, chanting, "My body--my choice!" How well they are mobilized! How passionate and invested they are to their cause! And the laws are already on THEIR side!
Just a few hours later, as I hurriedly ushered the kids to a violin lesson, I learned that in a rare procedural move, the Senate leadership had expedited the bill to the Senate floor (where it was not expected until Monday). Dick Saslaw, a Democrat from the Committee, moved to send the bill BACK to the same Committee that had just passed it, for reconsideration in 2013. His motion was seconded by the Republican Majority Leader, Tommy Norment. Five other Republicans voted in favor of this motion (including Senator Blevins, who had voted only hours before to report the bill!), allowing it to carry.
Senator Mark Obenshain spoke against the motion. (Thank you to him!)
Friends, I don't know what to make of this. I am sad, angry, and disappointed. One thing is sure--Governor's McDonnell's refusal to support HB1 was a huge contributing factor to today's defeat. And as for The Family Foundation, I don't even know what to say.
But God is still on His throne. He is sovereign over men and nations. I grieve over the various displays of cowardice by some, for these evoke a false view of God as impotent or absent. I rejoice over the victory He gave us in that Committee room today--however short-lived.
I hope in the conviction that He is never out-maneuvered, never out-played. I pray for man to be put in his place and for Yahweh to be glorified.
And now, I will pick up and move on, endeavoring to simply be faithful when He calls me into battle. Not because I expect a certain outcome, but because walking with Him is the most fundamental thing of all.