What’s your hope for a pro-choice Virginia?

By Marieke van Rijn, Advocacy & Communications Intern  

Last week, thanks to the support of pro-choice voters across the Commonwealth, Virginians elected pro-choice Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam as our next governor and lieutenant governor! And with Mark Herring in the lead to become our next attorney general, Virginia is on the verge of having elected a pro-choice statewide ticket for the first time in decades!

 But even as we applaud the amazing success of our pro-choice candidates, we know that there is still work to be done – especially at the legislative level – to make choice a reality for all Virginians. That’s why we want to hear from you right now. What are your hopes for a pro-choice Virginia?

Fill out our survey now and tell us your top pro-choice priorities. We’ll use your input to inform our work ahead – and share your hopes with our newly elected Governor, LG, and AG!

Here’s just a few of our hopes for a pro-choice Virginia:

My hope is to ensure access to abortion and family planning services for low-income women!

My hope is to ensure access to abortion and family planning services for low-income women!

Caroline's hope is to improve teen pregnancy prevention through comprehensive sex-education

Caroline’s hope is to improve teen pregnancy prevention through comprehensive sex-education

Maggie's hope is to stop government support for dangerous crisis pregnancy centers!

Maggie’s hope is to stop government support for dangerous crisis pregnancy centers!

You can tell us your hopes for a pro-choice Virginia by filling out our survey here, or by taking your own picture & sharing it with us on facebook or twitter! Or simply tweet at us using the hashtag #hope4prochoiceVA!

Thanks for everything you have done. Together we accomplished a lot this election –and I know we will keep working together to accomplish even more.

Way to go, Virginia!

Approximately one week ago, Virginia awoke to the exciting news of Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam being elected as the next governor and lieutenant governor, respectively. As votes are still being counted in the attorney general race, news of Mark Herring pulling ahead has spread and as has the hope that Virginia has elected a solidly pro-choice ticket of leaders. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia would like to take this time to congratulate Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam and further support and encourage Mark Herring.

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Furthermore, we would like to thank and commend all those that contributed to this success as we reached previously unprecedented numbers prior to November 5:

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Lastly, we would like to recognize a number of other hard-wrought races and the pro-choice candidates we worked closely with:

  • Atif Qarni, District 13: Atif challenged Bob Marshall and was narrowly defeated by only 497 votes, the closest race of Marshall’s career. NARAL volunteers knocked on 4500 doors for Atif.
  • Kathleen Murphy, District 34: NARAL volunteers knocked on approximately 3600 doors for Kathleen, leading to competitive race against Barbara Comstock. Ultimately, Comstock won by a close 431 votes.
  • Richard Cabellos, District 5: Community activist Richard Cabellos ran a strong campaign against anti-choice Jackson Miller.  NARAL Volunteers knocked on over 400 doors for Cabellos for his first ever political campaign, increasing his name recognition in the district.
  • Rob Farinholt, District 94: Pro-choice Rob Farinholt lost to anti-choice incumbent David Yancey by only 537 votes, with NARAL volunteers knocking on approximately 1,000 doors for Farinholt’s campaign.
  •  John Bell, District 87:  In his second run for the House of Delegates, this time against anti-choice incumbent David Ramadan, pro-choice John Bell ran an incredibly strong campaign.  Ramadan only defeated Bell by 195 votes, and Bell has cited the help of NARAL volunteers who knocked on over 4,000 doors as a large reason for such a close race.
     Jennifer Boysko, District 86: This one isn’t over yet–in the closest House of Delegates race in Virginia, pro-choice activist Jennifer Boysko is only 56 votes behind anti-choice Republican Tom Rust.  The Boysko campaign is watching the count of provisional ballots cast in the election and plans to ask the state for a recount as soon as possible.  If successful, Boysko’s election would eliminate the Republican House of Delegate’s veto-proof majority.

Furthermore, 17 NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia endorsed incumbents kept their seats and 1 House of Delegate seat was gained with Monty Mason’s, District 93, victory; there will also be a special election in District 6 for lieutenant governor-elect Ralph Northam’s state Senate seat with a Democratic caucus set to take place November 16.

We are honored and proud to have worked so closely with such talented and passionate individuals and look forward to their future success in whatever endeavors they may pursue. Stay tuned to local news outlets as ballot counts progress and we look forward to what our newly elected officials will accomplish.

Join us for a screening of ‘After Tiller’!

Come join us along with NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and NARAL Pro-Choice America for a screening of the award-winning documentary ‘After Tiller‘ on Thursday, November 7 at 7:20 PM at the West End Cinema!

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‘After Tiller’ shares the story of the impact of Dr. George Tiller’s murder in 2009 and the work his close colleagues, the only four doctors in the United States that openly provide late-term abortions, are continuing. Directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson intertwine candid interviews along with scenes of daily life in the clinic and surrounding environment, as the doctors experience resistance for their work. The screening will be followed by a Q & A session with a special guest as well as NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Executive Director Jodi Finkelstein. Tickets can be purchased here and please be sure to select the showing on November 7 at 7:20. Please join us at the West End Cinema and we look forward to seeing you there!

Guest Post: “I don’t feel safer with the idea of Cuccinelli as governor.”

This is a guest blog post by Nena Huss, a student at Christopher Newport University and a campus representative for NARAL Pro-Choice America. 

As a guest blogger I suppose I should introduce myself: my name is Nena Huss, age twenty, and a campus representative for NARAL Pro-Choice America at Christopher Newport University. On our campus this year we have hosted each of the gubernatorial candidates for Virginia, an impending election causing quite a stir within our state. I was unable to attend when McAuliffe, the democratic candidate, or Robert Sarvis, the libertarian candidate, came to speak but when Ken Cuccinelli came to speak I made sure I could go. However, one of the interesting aspects of his speech is how little notice students were given. I received the email informing me of Cuccinelli’s speech about six hours before he arrived. I went back through my emails to see if it had been announced before but no luck, they said he was going to come but all my other emails that mentioned it stated that the date had yet to be set. I began to look online to see if any other articles or sources mentioned the date and time and I found only one, a small Hampton Roads site that mentioned the correct date and time at the end of an article; other forums and the school newspaper did the same but had an incorrect date. It is entirely possible that they simply just did not know, but CNU’s past history with controversial speakers makes me wonder. Last year Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan spoke at CNU and the school faced an issue of students protesting his appearance. Students were told that they could not protest because they did not give notice ten business days before the event despite the fact that it was only announced a day or two before. CNU faced a great deal of backlash for this so, in my opinion, they gave even less notice for Cuccinelli so as not to face potential protestors.

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The forum was held in the Gaines Theatre on campus in the torrential rain and given the late notice, there were not as many people as I expected. After politely accepting a flier about a candidate I was not even eligible to vote for, I took my seat. Cuccinelli took the stage and introduced himself and gave some background information. This was not my first time seeing him speak; he gave a speech at Virginia Girl’s State, a summer leadership and citizenship program sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary, when I attended and faced a surprisingly hostile audience of seventeen year old girls.

While listening to him in Gaines Theatre I realized he, or someone on his team, must have done their research. He made a point to mention his history with survivors of sexual assault, his work with mental illness, and a couple other issues that CNU has strong groups specifically for. After his introduction, the two moderators began to ask questions of the candidate. The theme of the night for Cuccinelli appeared to be “let’s be moderate,”as he did not touch on any controversial issues. Instead he brought up his past legislation on issues that no one in the area would disagree with. He talked about the transportation bill, something important on the Peninsula. He was asked about college affordability and talked about the possibilities of digital learning. All very civil, all very typical.

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It wasn’t until reproductive rights were brought up that his attitude changed. The female moderator began a question about reproductive rights and he cut her off before she finished her question saying, “You mean abortion.” She agreed to that and then I saw him basically dodge the question entirely. Instead of addressing his opinions on the issue, he maneuvered back to talking about “hot lanes” and how when he runs on an issue, he gets it. I was confused at that point: what did that have to do with reproductive rights? The moderator must have shared my confusion because she asked him again, this time specifically about what he would try and pass in regards to that issue were he elected. To this he seemed to say that he would do nothing and that he’s never supported legislation in regards to that. His wording was careful enough that I figured he was trying not to talk about his opinions on the matter and instead trying to be moderate. When the moderator brought up his support of the “Personhood bill” and the use of a transvaginal ultrasound for women seeking an abortion, he more or less brushed it off. He gave the vaguest possible answer so as not to seem extreme. All in all the speech was a normal political speech, meant not to offend anyone but Cuccinelli’s careful avoidance of reproductive rights gave me no reason to feel any safer with the idea of him as governor.

“May We Come In?” New #StopKen Ad Released

NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia have just released a new GOTV ad campaign titled “May We Come In?” This ad is part of a push, which includes calls and door to door canvassing, to get more pro-choice voters in Virginia to the polls on November 5th.

This ad highlights Cuccinelli’s extreme position on women’s right to choose by depicting him as an intrusive cardboard cut-out Ken Cuccinelli intruding on women’s private spaces like their bedrooms and discussions with their pharmacists. This underscores his belief that the influence of elected officials is belongs in private spaces and the decisions of women and families across the Commonwealth.

November 5th is only 10 days away, so share this ad with your friends to make sure that Cuccinelli’s extreme views are kept out of our private lives and the governor’s mansion!

Read NARAL Pro-Choice America’s press release on this ad campaign here

Pro-Choice Candidate Profile: Rob Farinholt, District 94

By: Marieke van Rijn, Advocacy and Communications Intern

Rob Farinholt is a firefighter and paramedic, a life-long resident of Hampton Roads, and a 100% pro-choice candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates.  Farinholt is running against Republican incumbent David Yancey to be the representative of District 94, which encompasses Newport News City. Farinholt is not running to go to Richmond to discuss partisan politics, but to enact legislation that could bring together the people of District 94 and boost their economy.

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Farinholt’s opponent Yancey was elected in 2011 and wasted no time passing incredibly partisan bills. Yancey received a 0% pro-choice rating for the 2012-2013 cycle for voting in favor of medically unnecessary ultrasounds, “personhood” legislation, and prohibiting state funding for abortion. Judging by his voting record, it is clear that Yancey is on a crusade against women’s right to choose. 14.4% of people in the Newport News area live below the poverty line, so it is especially insensitive for Yancey to vote in favor of a bill that would harmfully impact so many women in his district’s right to choose.

Farinholt is committed to protecting a woman’s right to a confidential patient-doctor relationship, and to defending women from the privacy invasions of these anti-choice laws. Farinholt plans to work to roll back some of the extreme bills passed last session. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia strongly encourages you to devote your time, resources, or money to Farinholt’s campaign, because it is important for more pro-choice voices to be heard in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Pro-Choice Candidate Profile: Monty Mason, District 93

By: Marieke van Rijn, Advocacy and Communications Intern

Monty Mason is campaigning to represent District 93, which encompasses parts of Newport News City, James City County, Williamsburg City, and York County, in the Virginia House of Delegates. Mason is running against Republican incumbent Mike Watson. Watson was elected to the House of Delegates in 2011, and voted in favor of the major bills that played a role in the war on women in Virginia during the 2012 legislative session.

Monty Mason

Mason, a father of two young daughters, believes that Virginia must move beyond the divisive politics of Washington DC and reinvest in Virginia- which in part means protecting women’s reproductive rights. Monty Mason is a 100% pro-choice candidate because of his beliefs that the General Assembly needs to take common sense measures to protect women’s reproductive rights and the privacy of their medical decisions.

If elected, one of Mason’s mail goals would be to protect and restore the rights of women in Virginia. Although District 93 favored pro-choice candidates in the 2012 elections, we still urge you to donate your time, money, or resources to Mason’s campaign, because it is essential that the war on women that took place during the 2012 legislative session is not repeated this year.

TONIGHT! 1 in 3 Event in Shirlington

Come out to Busboys and Poets in Shirlington  tonight from 7 to 9 PM for an evening of story sharing and solidarity in support of the 1 in 3 Campaign, a project of Advocates for Youth. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Progress VA, and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia are partnering with 1 in 3 and Advocates for Youth as well for this event and it is sure to be a wonderful evening.

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The 1 in 3 Campaign strives to end the cultural stigma and shame associated with abortion and support women that have made that choice. The event, in addition to connecting women, will feature a performance by Adele Hampton, a storyteller and poet that is also a member of the DC’s Beltway Poetry Slam Team as well as a Capturing Fire Queer Spoken Word Summit and Slam finalist. Adele is also featured in Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Anthology of Spoken Word and Poetry, Come and help change the conversation about abortion and abortion access in Virginia! Please RSVP here  and we look forward to seeing you there!

Cuccinelli gave big money to CPCs that lie to women

Unbelievable: An investigative report by Mother Jones just revealed that anti-choice gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has donated thousands of dollars to Virginia crisis pregnancy centers that lie to women.

While not entirely surprising coming from the man who has been one of the most anti-choice gubernatorial candidates Virginia has ever seen, this is still shocking. What’s worse, one of the CPCs Cuccinelli has supported is AAA Women for Choice, perhaps the most egregious CPCs in Virginia and a center that NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has heavily investigated over the past year.

In fact, we sent an undercover investigator into AAA Women for Choice this past summer – and what we found was shocking. Among other outrageous lies, the CPC staffer told Caitlin, our investigator, that condoms have holes, that birth control causes cancer, and that contraception is “enslavement”. Here are the highlights of her visit:

These lies are not unique to AAA Women for Choice. Our year-long investigation of 56  CPCs across the Commonwealth found that 71% lie to the women that walk through their doors, including spreading misinformation about birth control, sex, and abortion.  A full 18 centers told our investigators that abortion is linked to breast cancer, and 25 centers falsely reported a link  between abortion, infertility and pre-term birth.

It is outrageous that Ken Cuccinelli (who is now trying to pose as a “protector of women“) would support centers that blatantly attempt to deceive and manipulate Virginia women. Even scarier — does he actually believe these lies?

The women of Virginia deserve better than a governor who funds anti-choice organizations that deceive and mislead women. With election day  just two weeks away, we need your help to defeat Ken Cuccinelli at the polls!  Volunteer with us to ensure that we get out the pro-choice vote on November 5th!

Pro-Choice Candidate Profile: James Harder, District 12

By: Marieke van Rijn, Advocacy and Communications Intern

James Harder is a 5th generation Montgomery County resident, PhD student at Virginia Tech, and a 100% pro-choice candidate. Harder is running against anti-choice incumbent Joseph Yost to represent District 12, which includes Montgomery County, Giles County, and Pulaski County and Radford City, in the Virginia House of Delegates.

James Harder

Harder is the grandson of former delegate Joan Munford, who was a champion of women’s healthcare and reproductive rights during her time. Harder cites the extreme stances Yost took on women’s healthcare as one of the reasons he decided to enter the race. Harder plans to follow in his grandmother’s footsteps to fight for women’s reproductive rights and believes that the discussion of women’s rights should not be limited to reproductive rights- he also plans to advocate for policies that will establish equal pay and maternity leave.

 

While Harder respects a woman’s right to privacy regarding her reproductive decisions and is an advocate for the various other issues that impact the women of Virginia, incumbent Joseph Yost has a very strong anti-choice voting record. Since being elected in 2011, Yost has voted in favor of every bill that would limit a woman’s rights to a safe and legal abortion. Yost voted to support “personhood” legislation, medically unnecessary ultrasounds, and to prohibit state funding for abortion.

Attacks on women’s right to choose were able to take place because delegates like Joseph Yost supported them. Virginia needs delegates that will support women, not the anti-choice agenda. James Harder will be an advocate for women’s issues in Richmond, which is something the women of Virginia need greatly in the wake of the War on Women. We strongly encourage you to volunteer or donate to James Harder’s campaign.