Delegate O’Bannon’s Moment to Shine: We’re Not Fans…

To the Editor,

In the article, (Delegate O’Bannon Says Shields’ Charges Are False, September 18, 2009), Delegate O’Bannon continues to insist that his vote in support for HB563 would not have affected the ability for rape and incest survivors to obtain emergency contraception. This is the real false charge.

As the Delegate who is proud to proclaim his standing as the ‘only physician in the House of Delegates,’ Dr. John O’Bannon should know that emergency contraception and birth control are not medical abortions. They are dosages of hormones used to prevent pregnancy in the first place, and serve as commonsense measures to reduce the number of abortions.

HB563, however, was a thinly veiled attempt to expand the already-existing conscience clause, which allows doctors and other medical practitioners the right to refuse to perform an abortion- surgical or medical. The specific goal of HB563 was to give pharmacists and medical providers this same right of refusal when it came to birth control and emergency contraception- hormone dosages that prevent an unintended pregnancy. It is simply mind-blowing that someone who is so vocally anti-choice would also be so vocally anti-prevention. But, such is John O’Bannon’s record.

In his nine years in office, Dr. O’Bannon has voted against more than 35 anti-reproductive healthcare bills, including 2003’s SB1104, which would have legally acknowledged that contraception is ‘not subject to or governed by the abortion law,’ because it is not an abortant.

This is a Bob McDonnell moment for Delegate Dr. John O’Bannon. O’Bannon is being asked about a past action- a vote on HB563- and claiming it isn’t what it seems. I’m not all too surprised to find that Bob McDonnell, the notoriously anti-woman and anti-reproductive healthcare gubernatorial candidate, was, in fact, a co-patron of HB563. McDonnell’s agenda has been to deny women access to reproductive healthcare, and O’Bannon’s vote yielded more power to his ideological agenda.

To NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, it seems as though Dr. O’Bannon, delegate for the 73rd district, either failed to research what the bill proposed, or simply dismissed scientific fact about birth control and emergency contraception, despite being a doctor. Either of these options is frightening, and inexcusable.

Nine years as delegate is simply nine years too many for the women of Henrico County. When it comes to reproductive health care, these voters deserve better than Delegate Dr. John O’Bannon.

Tarina Keene
Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

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