Anti-McDonnell Op-Ed Piece Published in Fredericksburg Freelance Star

McDonnell: A foe of women’s autonomy, health

8/29/2009 ALEXANDRIA —

With respect to the Aug. 20 editorial “Mr. Deeds’ ‘A’-bomb,” on Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell’s record on reproductive health, I would like to clarify a few points. I very much consider myself a “serious person” and one who regards the issue of reproductive health care with great concern. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia advocates tirelessly for accessible, affordable, and comprehensive sex education and contraception throughout the state of Virginia, making effort upon effort to reduce the need for abortion first and foremost. Were McDonnell to use his 17 years of experience in office to advocate for women and common-sense prevention strategies instead of the 40 anti-woman, anti-choice bills he has patroned, we might be singing a different tune. But that’s far from the case.

McDonnell has been on a roll, drafting a political agenda about women’s reproductive health since Day One in office, shunning any possibility of actually being a moderate. Prevention and reproductive choice go hand in hand. If we make efforts to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions become far less necessary. It is NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and Creigh Deeds’ goal to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible in the event prevention attempts fail. McDonnell has done nothing of the sort. Bob McDonnell has gone on record stating his belief that abortion should not be legal, even in cases of rape and incest, and he has made a career of confusing political ideology with medical need.

McDonnell, working, to quote the editorial, within “the confines of Roe vs. Wade”–as in, the confines of the law as established by the Supreme Court and upheld since 1973–has done nothing to make reproductive health safer for women or families. Mandating abstinence-only education (HB 2556 and SB 1029), allowing pharmacists and emergency rooms to refuse to dispense birth control (HB 563), and turning doctors and women into felons (HB 2513, HB 1945) simply make it more onerous for a woman to make an educated and deliberate choice about what is best for her health and her family.

McDonnell’s anti-birth-control, anti-family-planning agenda does nothing to lower the number of unintended pregnancies or abortions in Virginia. His legislation has forced Virginia to turn its back on its own citizens. Per the Washington Post’s yearly poll, in which state residents are asked their stance on abortion, 60 percent of Virginians believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Clearly, it is McDonnell who falls outside of the mainstream. Virginians know that the right to choose remains requisite.

Our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends must be trusted to make these arduous decisions in consultation with their families, doctors, and spiritual advisors. There’s no room for politicians or ideology. How is harming women’s reproductive health ever considered “principled” or “mainstream”? McDonnell and now The Free Lance-Star are severely out of touch with Virginia’s needs.

Tarina Keene is executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. Date published: 8/29/2009

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