This past Saturday, hundreds of pro-choice activists gathered in Monroe Park in downtown Richmond, Virginia.
Our message to Governor McDonnell was simple – end the war on Virginia women.
We heard from college students, young women, abortion providers, members of the faith community, state elected officials and national activists and organizers.
Carmen Berkley, field director for Choice USA, passionately reminded us that this issue affects everyone in Virginia and across the country:
I’m standing up here for all the young people. For all the people of color. For all the gay people, the lesbians, the queer folks. The differently-abled. Because it is not ok that all of us can be standing out here and there are people up at the Capitol trying to tell us what to do with our bodies. We are sick and tired. I am tired of governors, not just from Virginia, but from Kansas and Mississippi, all the way from Maine to California telling us what to do with our bodies.
Two speakers reminded us that, while the majority of Virginians are concerned with jobs, transportation and education, anti-choice elected officials focus on eliminating access to safe, legal abortion.
“The more we talk about jobs the more they pass bills to prohibit the access not only to abortion, but to birth control,” said Eleanor Smeal, keynote speaker and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Delegate Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, summed up the feelings of the crowd:
We’re standing here today because Governor McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli have decided to abuse the regulatory system. This is a dangerous piece of regulation. Governor McDonnell, we say no to extreme ideology. Governor McDonnell, we say no to those regulations that prevent doctors from practicing medicine. Governor McDonnell, we say no to your heavy hand of government interfering with the private decisions of a woman, her doctor and her God.
For the past few months, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health have been working tirelessly to get the word out about new regulations on Virginia’s abortion providers. These regulations were mandated by a law that narrowly passed the General Assembly earlier this year, and the Governor imposed an “emergency” regulation process to create them without many of the usual opportunities for deliberation and public comment. The state Department of Health used this new authority to draft excessive, onerous and medically-irrelevant restrictions that single out abortion providers from among all other medical providers. The draft regulations, recently approved by the state Board of Health, also do little to protect patient and provider safety and confidentiality. (Find out more about the draft regulations at the Coalition website.)
The regulations now go before Governor Bob McDonnell. If he signs them as drafted, they will be the strictest regulations on abortion providers in the entire country.
Governor McDonnell, pro-choice Virginians — and people across the country — are watching what you do next. Will you stand up for Virginia women or pursue a narrow, political agenda?
Be sure to sign the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health petition today, asking Governor McDonnell not to sign these regulations.
For more information, visit the Coalition’s website at http://www.coalitionforwomenshealth.org