Support HB 1 – Important Pro-Life Legislation


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Virginia Christian Alliance and The Valley Family Forum

Urgent Alert   — Ask VA Senators for Help  —  Call Now! 

A Battle for Life in the VA Senate  Protect the Right “Wrongful Death” Bill  (HB 1)

One of our top priority pro-life bills in the VA General Assembly this year is a strong “Right to Life” bill also referred to “Wrongful Death” bill sponsored by Del. Bob Marshall (HB 1).  Unfortunately, Sen. Bill Stanley has just filed a much weaker and more problematic alternative (SB 674) that must be either withdrawn or defeated.

The Virginia Christian Alliance has sent a letter to Bill Stanely and other representatives  stating the grave concern that SB 674 poses and requests the bill be withdrawn immediately. Supposedly Sen. Bill Stanley had supported HB-1 in the first place and why the diluted SB-674 was filed is perplexing.  Virginians will ask why we worked so hard to defeat Edd Houck in the last election just to get bills introduced like the Stanley bill.  The Virginia Christian Alliance and Virginia Christian Action worked with Terry Beatley to bring Houck’s career in the Senate to an end.

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While both bills allow parents to file a civil claim for damages in the event of the death of their unborn child that is caused by another person, there are very significant differences between the two bills as noted below.  That is followed by a Call to Action for you to ask Sen. Stanley to withdraw his bill.·

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The Stronger Marshall Bill – HB 1 (A Pro-Life Bill)

Establishes a “Wrongful Death” cause of action for an unborn at all stages by recognizing that life begins at conception and that unborn children are human beings.·

Creates a general rule of construction that applies to all of Virginia law, thereby laying a strong foundation for every future pro-life effort, including efforts to limit abortion.·

The Flawed Stanley Bill – SB 674 (A Pro-Lawyer Bill)

Also establishes a Wrongful Death cause of action for an unborn child – but only after 12 weeks by amending Virginia’s existing wrongful death statute to include “a fetus”.·

Is limited to creating a wrongful death cause of action but carries no potential to create a foundation for future efforts to limit abortion.·

Does not establish life at conception or recognize the basic humanity of the unborn.·

Action Request

Please call or write to Sen. Stanley and co-sponsor Tom Garrett to inform them that SB 674 will interfere with important, long-term, pro-life goals because it does not establish the important principle that life begins at conception and that unborn children are human beings.  Ask them to withdraw their bill and to support HB 1 when it comes to the Senate next month.·

Sen. Stanley is at (804) 698-7520, or you can write to him at

Sen. Garrett is at (804) 698-7522, or you can write to him at

Thank you so much.  Your voice could make the difference – for life!·


Dean Welty

Please Support HB1 and NOT SB674

House Bill 1 is substantively identical[1] to an existing Missouri law, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 1.205.1, which the United States Supreme Court left standing in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 109 S.Ct. 3040 (1989).  Its constitutionality cannot be seriously questioned.

What HB1 Does:

  • Express the consensus of the General Assembly that life begins at conception and that unborn children are endowed with fundamental rights.
  • Allows a parent to assert a civil cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child from the moment of conception.  This was the effect of the equivalent Missouri law.  Currently, Virginia is in the minority of states that do not allow this cause of action.
  • Creates a legal foundation upon which future abortion regulations might be based.
  • Leaves unaffected Virginia’s existing laws on abortion, contraception, etc.  This is why the identical language in Missouri was left standing by the U.S. Supreme Court.  That law has been in effect in Missouri for over 20 years without impacting those practices.

HB1 is Different From “Personhood” Initiatives:

  • Unlike “personhood” initiatives, this bill was specifically designed to avoid a challenge to Roe v. Wade by using language that the U.S. Supreme Court has left standing in Missouri.
  • The bill is a “rule of construction” that would not interfere with the operation of other, specific laws on abortion law, oral contraception, etc.

Why SB674 is NOT a Pro-Life Bill, But Rather a Pro-Lawyer Bill:

  • While SB674 would create a civil cause of action for the wrongful death of a “fetus,” it does not base this cause of action on the all-important principle that life begins at conception.  It is important to the future efforts of the pro-life movement that Virginia law recognize the humanity of the unborn.
  • Because SB674 would merely be a subsection of the wrongful death statute, it holds no potential to lay a principled foundation that could support future pro-life efforts.
  • The passage of SB674 would significantly hinder the pro-life movement’s ability to codify foundational pro-life principles by way of tried-and-true language, since the wrongful death cause of action HB1 would create would no longer be needed.
  • By extending the wrongful death cause of action only to the death of a “fetus,” it precludes recovery for the wrongful death of an unborn child prior to 12 weeks.
  • SB674 also invites legal debate over whether the cause of action may be brought prior to the stage of “viability.”  The courts of different states have reached varying conclusions on this point.  Virginia’s pro-life movement will suffer if this concept of “viability” gains footing in our law.


[1] House Bill 1 differs from the Missouri statute only in that it uses the word “Commonwealth” in place of the word “state,” and that it includes a provision added by Del. David Albo during the committee hearings in 2011, which expressly provides that the law would have no effect on assisted conception practices (such as in vitro fertilization).


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

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Virginia Christian Alliance
The mission of the VIRGINIA CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE is to promote moral, social and scientific issues we face today from a Biblical point of view. In addition we will refute and oppose, not with hate, but with facts and humor, the secular cultural abuses that have overridden laws and standards of conduct of the past. We will encourage Christians to participate in these efforts through conferences, development of position papers, booklets and tracts, radio/TV spots, newspaper ads and articles and letters-to-the editor, web sites, newsletters and providing speakers for church and civic meetings.