Guest post by Angela Guzman, Chair of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s Board of Directors
In January, I assumed the reins as chair of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia — the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of Virginia’s now 10-year-old NARAL Pro-Choice America state affiliate. I came on board with my sleeves rolled up, but admittedly, I failed to comprehend just how intensely we were going to have to work in protecting our rights and access to women’s health here in Virginia this year.
The 2012 General Assembly was a firestorm, fueled by anti-choice legislative members intent on advancing a political and ideological agenda — one deeply rooted in misguided beliefs that are dangerous to women’s health, and essentially deem us incapable of reaching sound conclusions about our own bodies, even with the counsel of our trusted medical professionals.
I support NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia because it is incomprehensible to me that I live in a state where our founding fathers (and let’s be honest, our founding mothers, too) developed the United States’ fundamental principles of freedom—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—and yet, this ongoing intrusion of government over women’s bodies and health only continues to escalate in intensity, rather than come to a screeching halt.
I support NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia because we need to stand up to activist Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his zealous anti-choice crusade. He continues to operate on his own agenda, disregarding the very laws that he purports to protect. Why is Mr. Cuccinelli challenging the Virginia Board of Health on the conclusions they have reached regarding Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers? (Which, by the way, were snuck into a legislation package at the 11th hour and passed by only one vote.)
I support NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, because we are up to our eyebrows in anti-choice legislation, fighting overly burdensome clinic regulations, mandatory ultrasounds (ultimately passed into law, but not before creating a firestorm after the reality of invasive vaginal probing caught national attention, brought thousands of concerned citizens to Jefferson’s Capitol steps in peaceful protest, and haunted Governor McDonnell’s chances as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate), personhood (thankfully defeated this time, but you can assuredly make a $10,000 bet with Mitt Romney that we’ll see it again in 2013) and a general ideology that is detrimental to women.
On the national stage over the past year and a half, we have seen women’s rights and health threatened with as many anti-choice-extremist entrees as they can fit on the menu—from access to birth control, to defunding Planned Parenthood, to restricting care in our nation’s capital. Perhaps the pinnacle snub in this War on Women – shutting an educated and qualified woman, Sandra Fluke, completely out of the Congressional hearing to determine the path to affordable contraception access for women like her who attend or work for religiously-affiliated institutions — it’s simply unbelievable and un-American.
Abortion is a controversial subject. It always has been. I suspect it long will be. But I envision a day when we can speak more candidly about it. A day when women don’t have to be shamed for owning a choice they made about their own bodies and their own health based on their own very personal circumstances.
These are increasingly scary times—and they are only going to get worse if we don’t stand up and do something about it. I am in this fight because I have to be. This is my choice. I urge you to join me.