2015 Legislative Debriefing

By Nicole Linder, Spring 2015 Advocacy & Communications Intern. Connect with Nicole at @NALinder or nicole@naralva.org.

On Wednesday, April 29th, pro-choice advocates, activists and allied lawmakers joined together in Arlington for our annual Legislative Review and Reception.

Hosted at the Arlington Central Library, the event allowed for lawmakers and constituents to mingle before a panel of five pro-choice legislators discussed the 2015 session and fielded questions from a packed room.

DSC_0332Senators Barbara Favola (D-31), Jennifer Wexton (D-33) and Janet Howell (D-32) joined Delegates Patrick Hope (D-47) and Charniele Herring (D-46) on our panel to discuss the pro-choice bills they fought for in 2015.

Senator Jennifer Wexton kicked off the panel discussion, detailing her failed attempt to repeal the 24-hour waiting period for women who seek abortion as well as her successful breastfeeding bill–which was signed into law in March.

Delegate Patrick Hope continued the conversation, detailing his attempt to pass the “Bad Bosses Bill.” Calling the bill “commonsense,” Hope explained his frustration with the failure of the bill and reiterated to the crowd that, “bosses have no place in your reproductive decisions.”

Delegate Hope went on to discuss his successful efforts to bring justice to the dozens of victims who were forcibly sterilized from the mid-1920s to the mid-1970s under the Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act of 1924. Hope’s efforts lead to the creation of a $400,000 compensation package for victims.

After Delegate Hope concluded, our steadfast pro-choice champion Delegate Charniele Herring discussed the extreme 20-week abortion ban that was introduced in the House and what activists can do to prevent future legislation from passing. Calling the bill, “An example of poorly drafted legislation,” Delegate Herring predicted that such legislation should be expected in the future and, “We need to be prepared.”

Senator Janet Howell used her time to discuss attacks on the state budget and how she successfully defeated multiple anti-choice amendments. Before wrapping up, Senator Howell reminded us all about the importance elections have on the creation of budget conferees and the state budget in general.

DSC_0333Finally, Senator Barbara Favola concluded our panel discussion by reviewing this year’s failed anti-choice budget attacks and the need to overturn Virginia’s current ban on abortion insurance coverage for those in the healthcare exchange. Senator Favola went on to discuss the importance of contraceptive equity stating that, “Women should be able to choose and afford the birth control they need.”

After each panelist spoke, our guest lawmakers then fielded questions from the audience and offered advice on how to gear up for the fight ahead.

Thank you to all of the legislators, activists and allies who joined us for our 2015 Legislative Review and Reception. We cannot wait to work with you all in the future!

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