Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe | wikimedia, commons

McAuliffe vetoes bill aimed at Planned Parenthood funding

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed legislation on Tuesday that would have barred state funding for Planned Parenthood.

In a press release, McAuliffe said the measure "would harm tens of thousands of Virginians who rely on the health care services and programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers by denying them access to affordable care. 

"If we are going to build a new, more vibrant Virginia economy," the governor said, "we need to be opening up doors to quality, affordable health care, not closing them."

McAuliffe added that he had "promised to stand in the way of any and all attempts to interfere with a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions."

Supporters of the bill slammed McAuliffe as a puppet of the abortion industry.

“We now know how much money it costs to purchase a veto from Terry McAuliffe – right around $2 million in campaign contributions,” said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia.

“If there’s one issue on which Governor McAuliffe has been ideologically rigid, it is his unwavering support and protection of the $1 billion abortion industry,” Cobb added.

According to the non-partisan Virginia Public Access Project, Planned Parenthood Votes, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Planned Parenthood Virginia donated more than $1.8 million combined to McAuliffe's 2013 gubernatorial campaign. The National Abortion Rights League donated a further $55,823.

Cobb said McAuliffe's argument that the bill would restrict women's access to health care is untrue. The bill would have limited abortion procedures to licensed, full service hospitals, and clinics whose main purpose is offering primary health care.

“The argument that women will not have access to needed care as a result of the bill vetoed by the governor is patently false," Cobb said, contending that taxpayer money could be better spent at "comprehensive health centers like this legislation required. Unfortunately, once again, Governor McAuliffe put abortion ideology ahead of the well-being of women.”

The General Assembly lacks the two-thirds vote needed in both the House and Senate to override McAuliffe's veto.

The bill's House sponsor, Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst) issued a statement in which he said he was “disappointed that Governor McAuliffe chose to veto this important legislation that would redirect taxpayer dollars toward more comprehensive providers of health care services for women.

“The governor is clearly listening to his friends in the abortion lobby," Cline said, "rather than ensuring that women have access to quality care.”

Several states have passed legislation blocking state funding for Planned Parenthood's operations. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is seeking the GOP's presidential nomination, signed legislation in late February similar to Cline's proposal.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, issued a statement lauding McAuliffe's veto, calling Cline's bill "part of a well-documented pattern of anti-abortion legislators chipping away at Virginia women’s constitutional rights and access to health care."