VA: Robertson, Falwell Court McDonnell In De-Funding Planned Parenthood

Changes certainly are afoot in the state of Virginia with the election of Gov. Bob McDonnell, who recently moved to strip away anti-discrimination protections for gays.

Now, in addition to efforts by state legislators to ensure that money raised from the sale of proposed "Respect Choice" license plates do not go to Planned Parenthood, Gov. McDonnell's long time ally Pat Robertson and other right-wing pastors are seeking his promise to defund the organization:

Some of Virginia's most influential Christian leaders asked Gov. Bob McDonnell and other top officials Thursday to block state funding for Planned Parenthood because the nonprofit organization provides abortions.

The Virginia Christian Alliance presented a petition signed by the Rev. Pat Robertson, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell and dozens of others asking Republicans McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to help defund the organization.

The pastors cited what they called the "unethical, immoral and racist practices" of Planned Parenthood, the nation's No. 1 abortion provider.

And according to the Virginia Pilot, McDonnell is going to support the effort:

Virginia's top three elected officials -- all Republicans -- expressed support Thursday for an effort by religious leaders to eliminate any state money that goes to Planned Parenthood, a health care organization that provides abortions.

Here are some responses from their offices:

"Lieutenant Governor Bolling does not believe that public funds should be used to pay for abortions, nor does he believe that public funds should be used to support organizations that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. In fact, in 2007 the Lieutenant Governor cast the deciding vote in the Senate to withhold public funds from Planned Parenthood. His position has not changed."

Ibbie Hedrick, spokeswoman for Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

"Attorney General Cuccinelli supports withholding state funds for Planned Parenthood. It is Constitutional for state money to go to third party contractors, but just because it is Constitutional does not mean that it is a good policy and state funding of Planned Parenthood is a bad policy. Attorney General Cuccinelli supports the overall goal of this group, but does not plan to sign a petition." Dan Dodds, spokesman for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

The petition referred to in the response from Cuccinelli's office is a document the religious consortium is circulating.

Among its prominent signatories are Virginia Beach-based religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Jonathan Falwell, son of Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell.

Another noteworthy public figure who plans to sign the petition is Gov. Bob McDonnell, a spokeswoman for the governor said Thursday evening.