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By Sarah Hurtubise
Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have restricted state funding for Planned Parenthood.
The bill, which passed the state Senate last week, would have restricted the Virginia Department of Health from providing funds to clinics that perform abortions which aren’t covered by Medicaid. Federal rules restrict Medicaid funding for abortions to cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
“It’s time that our General Assembly understands that we have a responsibility to protect the rights and dignity of women,” Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said at a press conference Tuesday. “Without access to reproductive care and the freedom to exercise choice, women are denied the choice to make deeply personal health decisions.”
McAuliffe spoke about the veto at an event outside the governor’s executive mansion to representatives of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and Progress Virginia, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Elected in 2013, the Virginia Democrat has received nearly $1.9 million in campaign donations from Planned Parenthood organizations. Planned Parenthood Votes donated almost $1.2 million to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign for governor. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund chipped in another $490,398 and Planned Parenthood Va donated $181,491, according to public filings.
The Republican sponsor of the bill, state Del. Benjamin Cline, struck back against McAuliffe’s decision.
“This important legislation would have prioritized taxpayer dollars toward providers of more comprehensive health care services, and the governor’s veto undermines those efforts to improve health care in rural and underserved areas,” Cline said in a statement. “I am disappointed that Governor McAuliffe has again chosen the abortion lobby over the health care needs of women across Virginia.”
Cline said he hopes the state’s General Assembly will override McAuliffe’s veto. The bill passed the Senate by a margin of 20-19.
The move comes after the House of Representatives voted last week to rescind a rule pushed through by the Obama administration which restricted states’ ability to defund organizations that perform abortions. The regulation was issued two days before President Barack Obama left office in January. (RELATED: House Takes First Step In Allowing States To Defund Planned Parenthood)
That rule targeted federal funding for Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which provides payment for family planning services. Under the regulation, states are not allowed to prevent Title X funding from going to organizations that perform abortions.
Currently, the federal government pays out roughly $550 million per year to Planned Parenthood, largely through Medicaid reimbursements. Congressional Republicans have stated that they hope to defund the abortion giant in a bill to repeal Obamacare. (RELATED: Congress Set To Defund Planned Parenthood In Aggressive Legislative Push)
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