- The Washington Times - Friday, February 3, 2012

RICHMOND — The Virginia House of Delegates on Friday signed off on a measure that would bar state funding for poor women seeking abortions in cases in which a baby would be born with an incapacitating deformity or mental deficiency.

The bill’s patron, Mark L. Cole, Spotsylvania Republican, said that the measure is intended to conform Virginia law to federal law regarding taxpayer-funded abortions, and does not ban any women from having an abortion. The federal Hyde amendment currently states that abortions are not to be covered through Medicaid except in the cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger.

Democrats, though, pointed out that just 10 such abortions were performed in the state last year, and called it an unnecessary government intrusion. The state spent about $2,800 on such procedures last year.

“With this bill, the majority party has gone too far,” said Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey, Henrico Democrat.

The measure passed on a 64-35 vote.

The House on Friday also passed a measure that protects state-licensed private adoption agencies from placements that conflict with the agency’s religious beliefs. Proponents argue that the measure is intended to codify recently-passed regulations into state law.

The state Board of Social Services last year approved regulations that would prohibit prospective adoptive or foster parents from discrimination based on race, color or national origin but stripped out earlier proposed protections on factors such as family status and sexual orientation.

Opponents argue that the ultimate goal is to discriminate against gay people from becoming adoptive or foster parents. Only married couples and single people, gay or straight, can adopt in Virginia. Same-sex couples cannot legally marry in the state.

The House approved the measure 71-28, and a Senate committee signed off on its version of the “conscience clause” bill Friday morning on an 8-7 party-line vote.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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