Victory against “Personhood”…but the fight goes on!

Ladies and gentleman,

We have a victory on our hands! And I’m not just talking about the election — although obviously, WE ARE PUMPED. But even considering the recent reelection of pro-choice President Obama (and of course the fact that Virginia  stayed blue), this victory is still pretty huge.

Let’s start with some background. During the 2012 General Assembly session, notorious anti-choice Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) introduced H.B. 1, a bill to state that life begins at conception – and grant “personhood” status to fertilized eggs. Unsurprisingly, H.B. 1 (also known as “personhood”)  was an incredibly dangerous threat to the health and rights of Virginia women.

If passed, H.B. 1 would lay the legal groundwork to ban abortion without exception – even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the woman.  Even more extreme, “personhood”  could ban most common and FDA-approved forms of birth control, and would even outlaw some infertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization.  Ultimately “personhood” would force doctors to put the well-being of a fetus before the life and health of a living, breathing, thinking woman – even in cases of severe pregnancy complications. Considering the recent and tragic death of Savita Halappanavar,  who died after being denied access to life-saving  abortion care, it’s obvious how scary this is.
In February of this year, the Virginia House of Delegates passed H.B. 1 by a vote of 66-32 (also terrifying). But thankfully, after thousands of pro-choice Virginians rallied against “personhood”, the Senate decided to “continue” H.B. 1 to the 2013 legislative session. It was a great day for women’s rights in Virginia…but we knew we couldn’t get too comfortable. After all H.B. 1 was – and still is – technically alive.
Sen. Steve Martin, Chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, has until this Thursday, November 29, to hold a hearing on H.B.1. If the hearing is held and the bill voted out of committee, “personhood” legislation will move to the full Senate for a vote – and the women of Virginia will  be one step closer to losing critical reproductive rights. Another scary prospect…and one we definitely did NOT want to see happen in Virginia.

So last week, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia asked our supporters and allies to write a message to state Sen. Martin telling him to pull “personhood” from the 2013 agenda. Our response was overwhelming –  over 720 pro-choice Virginians took a break from their holiday and told Sen. Martin to stop with the crazy attacks on women’s health and keep H.B. 1 off of the table for good.

Now for that victory part: IT WORKED! After receiving more than 700 emails from angry Virginians, Sen. Martin had apparently had enough. Thanks to you, he will not hear the bill before Thursday’s deadline – and H.B. 1 will officially die.

We know we have a lot more work to do. Del. Bob Marshall has already introduced some extreme anti-choice bills for the 2013 session, and he is likely to re-introduce “personhood” as well. But today we are happy, relieved, and so proud of everyone who helped us win this important victory. With 2013 around the corner, let’s keep it up: 

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