- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) A Virginia Senate committee endorsed legislation yesterday to post "In God We Trust" in public schools after amending the bill to emphasize that Congress made the message the national motto in 1956.
The Education and Health Committee voted 9-6 to endorse the bill, which will get a vote in the Senate tomorrow.
"The nation has long recognized this motto as very inspirational," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Nick Rerras, Norfolk Republican. "The motto gives us hope for the future, and it helps us persevere in difficult times."
Sen. R. Edward Houck, Spotsylvania Democrat, proposed the amendment to add after "In God We Trust" the notation: "National motto enacted by Congress, 1956."
Mr. Houck said he wanted to make sure students view the motto from a historical perspective rather than a religious one. The motto has appeared on the nation's coins since 1908.
"The reality is that this is the motto of this nation," he said. "On that level, it doesn't offend me."
Mr. Houck said public schools already routinely post the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the phrase, "One nation under God."
"That posting has not brought down Western civilization," Mr. Houck said. "I don't think this is the end of the world."

Also yesterday, the House overwhelmingly passed legislation intended to revive Virginia's ban on a late-term abortion procedure.
The House voted 75-25 to pass Delegate Robert G. Marshall's bill prohibiting "medically induced infanticide." The bill is essentially the same as the state's ban on a procedure called partial birth abortion. The statute was invalidated by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a similar Nebraska law was unconstitutional.
Mr. Marshall, Prince William Republican, has said he hopes the court will take a different view of the law if the procedure it bans is classified as killing a person rather than destroying a fetus.
Delegate Mitchell Van Yahres said that with the General Assembly grappling with a $3.5 billion budget shortfall, now is not the time to be inviting expensive litigation.

The Senate Education and Health Committee declined to act on the parental-consent bill that was sent to it Sunday night by the Courts of Justice Committee.
Sen. Richard Saslaw, Fairfax Democrat and a member of both committees, said the health panel needed to hear testimony from medical experts about the bill's consequences.
However, other members of the health committee said the bill deals primarily with court issues, not health matters. The legislation, like the parental-notification law now on the books, outlines a judicial process allowing abused girls to bypass their parents.
Louise D. Hartz, past president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, said some girls have obtained abortions after falsifying parental-notification documents. The consent bill would prevent that by requiring the notarized signature of one parent, she said.
Sen. Janet Howell, Reston Democrat, suggested merely amending the parental-notification law to require a notarized signature. The committee did not vote on that idea, which Mrs. Hartz later told reporters she could support when the panel takes up a parental-consent bill passed by the House.
Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner opposes further abortion restrictions.


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