Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Statement by Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Knestout on Governor Northam’s Signature of Abortion Expansion Legislation

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington and Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond issued the following statement on Governor Northam’s signature of legislation that drastically expands abortion coverage in Virginia:

“Governor Northam has crossed yet another tragic threshold by inserting abortion without limits into Virginia’s health benefits exchange. We decry the enactment of this deplorable policy, which is built on the destructive lie that abortion is healthcare. We are saddened when we contemplate the increased number of unborn lives likely to be lost as a result.

“The exchange is a virtual marketplace created under the federal Affordable Care Act, through which an estimated 240,000 Virginians access their health plans. Under state law for the past decade, plans participating in Virginia’s health exchange were prohibited from covering most abortions. This fundamentally pro-life provision undoubtedly saved many lives. Starting July 1 of this year, however, that provision will be eradicated from our law. Consequently, and tragically, health plans in the exchange will be allowed to cover abortions for any reason.

“In many cases, people receive public subsidies to purchase these plans. Beginning July 1, even these taxpayer-funded plans can cover abortions without limitation. This means that taxpayers will be forced to fund plans that cover abortion on demand.

“Without despair, and with maximum determination, we will continue our advocacy for the preeminent priority of protecting unborn children from this threat. So many lives, who have no voice except ours, depend on it.”


The Diocese of Richmond

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond is under the leadership and pastoral care of Bishop Barry C. Knestout. With 220,000 Catholics, 149 parishes and 29 schools, the diocese is a diverse faith community that comprises the entire Commonwealth of Virginia with the exception of 21 counties to the north. The Diocese of Richmond encourages Catholics across our diocese to live an active life of faith through the many opportunities offered within our diocesan boundaries. Our local Church works to support our diverse parishes and schools and welcomes all to live and practice the Gospel with faith and charity. Want to know more about us? Visit: