Virginia’s Board of Health funds abortions for women who meet the financial eligibility criteria of the State Plan for Medical Assistance.
A minimal number of abortions are funded by the state each year. In fiscal 2010, 23 abortions were approved for a total cost of $14,681; in fiscal 2011, 10 abortions were approved for a total cost of $2,784.
The average cost per abortion is $529.
Virginia pays for abortions with available cash balances from special funds in the state Office of Family and Health Services.
Joe Bartling, 54, of Oakton, and his wife, Karen, said they do not believe the state should finance abortions.
The couple has adopted six children of women from South Korea, China, Thailand, Ghana and India who gave birth to children with physical deformity or mental deficiency and chose not to care for them.
All six special needs children, whose ages range from 6 to 17, have been blind since birth and have cognitive deficiencies. They accompanied Joe Bartling to a Senate Education and Health Committee hearing on Thursday, where he testified in support of the bill that would cut off state abortion funding.
“Seventeen years ago, after years of unexplained infertility, Karen and I set out on a course of adoption,” Bartling said. “Being in our mid-30s, and not really knowing what we were getting into, we thought we could offer a home and family to a child with special needs.”
They adopted their first daughter, Hannah, 17, when she was 9 months old. She was born with no eyes and abandoned by her mother at a nursing home.
Another daughter, Abi, 11, was left in a garbage can in a park in Calcutta, India, “screaming her little heart out,” Bartling told the committee. Abi was rescued by a police officer who heard her screaming and took her to an orphanage, he said.
Bartling said that sometimes when Abi screams now, they just let her scream.
“If she didn’t know how to scream, she wouldn’t have survived a single night in the garbage can,” he said.
Karen and Joe Bartling send their children to public schools in the area, where trained professionals have helped them learn and develop.
Karen Bartling, 54, said it is a coincidence that all the children they have adopted are blind, and she considers the six children the family she never knew she wanted.
“Today we’re here to testify not for the mom who is going through the unwanted pregnancy, not for the doctor, or the physician, who may be looking out for the wife and the mother, not for the social worker who is determining the eligibility criteria … and not for the state agency who is administering these funds,” Bartling said.
“Today we are here to testify on behalf of that little unborn child who, unbeknown to him or her, may just so happen to have a gross or totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency… who one day might be somebody’s proud son or daughter,” she said.
House Bill 62, offered by, Delegate Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, would end the aid for poor women.
The bill passed the House this week on a 64-35 vote. The 20-member Senate will vote on the measure later next week. If approved, it will head to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk.
Virginia Statehouse News: VA may eliminate abortion funding for poor women