Your LAST chance to speak out against dangerous TRAP restrictions!

By Sarah Hogg, Advocacy & Communications Intern. Contact her @SarahLovely or e-mail her here.

We have one last chance to speak up for women’s health centers in Virginia. Have you taken action yet? 

Last year, the Virginia Board of Health finalized burdensome and medically-unnecessary restrictions (also known as TRAP regulations) designed to close Virginia women’s health centers that provide cancer screenings, family planning, and safe, legal abortion. Thankfully, after Gov. McAuliffe initiated a review last month, the Virginia Department of Health is now reviewing these dangerous regulations to decide whether they should be repealed, amended, or upheld.

Today is the LAST day of the public comment period on TRAP restrictions – which means this our last chance to speak out against the regulations before the Department of Health completes their review.  Make public comment now! 

Pro-choice Virginians from across the Commonwealth have already stepped up in a big way to help us keep our health centers open. On Tuesday we – along with our allies from ProgressVA, ACLU of Virginia, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia – delivered 4,844 pro-choice, anti-TRAP comments to the Virginia Department of Health!

Our box of 4,844 comments to the Virginia Department of Health

This is a huge step — but we have even more work to do before midnight tonight. Please submit your comment now & help us reach our goal of 5,000 comments against TRAP restrictions! 

You and I know just how much is at stake here.  If TRAP regulations are not repealed or amended , the repercussions for women, families, and healthcare across the state will be swift and severe. Under these archaic laws, three women’s health clinics across the Commonwealth have already had to close their doors or stop providing abortion services. If more women’s health centers are forced to close, Virginia women and families will become even more isolated from the critical healthcare they need and deserve.


NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, ProgressVA, ACLU of Virginia, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia deliver comments to the Board of Health!

At midnight tonight, the Virginia Board of Health will stop accepting comments and will begin its review, to be completed by October 1st by Health Commissioner Marissa Levine. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of history.

Speak out against TRAP restrictions now! 

Supreme Court Delivers Huge Blow to Women’s Health & Rights

By Sarah Hogg, Advocacy & Communications intern. Contact her @SarahLovely or e-mail her here.

“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.” – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In less than one week, the Supreme Court has succeeded in alienating millions of women across Virginia & the United States.  Over the past week, the  highest court in America handed down two extreme anti-choice decisions that violate women’s authority over their decisions and treat women’s bodies as a nothing more than a battleground to be legislated upon. On Thursday, the court voted unanimously to strike down the Massachusetts buffer zone law, which protected women against threatening protesters outside of abortion clinics. The court said that this law violated pro-life Americans’ free speech to “counsel”  women on sidewalks about abortion. As if that ruling wasn’t enough, on Monday the court decided in a 5-4 vote to side with Hobby Lobby in what was arguably one of the most closely-watched Supreme Court cases of the term. The ruling allows for-profit “closely-held” corporations to interfere with their women employees’ access to birth control, giving more rights to corporations than to women.

Anti-choice protesters gather outside of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC

Anti-choice protesters gather outside of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC

Both the buffer zone ruling and the Hobby Lobby ruling are heinous infringements upon women’s rights. Having worked at a Planned Parenthood myself, I have firsthand experience of just how damaging anti-choice protesters can be. On any given day, there were at least 5-10 protesters outside of our clinic—and let me tell you, they were not peacefully “counseling” the women that came inside. Luckily, my clinic had a private property line that protesters could not cross, but many clinics across the United States are not so lucky. Despite the private property line, the protesters still had a massive impact on the patients. They stood on the sidewalk outside of the clinic and held massive, disgusting signs of what they claimed were aborted fetuses. They rushed at women turning into the clinic and thrust information through car windows. They shouted at women walking to the parking lot into the clinic about how they were murdering children and how they would always regret this decision. Women would walk into the lobby of our clinic agitated, angry, scared, and intimidated, terrorized by the protesters who were only trying to “peacefully counsel” them. The Supreme Court’s ruling against buffer zones endangers women, plain and simple. If the Supreme Court is allowed to maintain a 200-foot buffer zone, why can’t women be afforded a fraction of that same right?

The buffer zone law was one blow; one that the pro-choice community hoped would be the only anti-choice decision of this term. Then, the Hobby Lobby ruling delivered another huge blow for women’s bodily autonomy. At it’s most fundamental, the Hobby Lobby opinion is nothing short of legalized sexism. Although the Court concludes that private, for-profit corporations can refuse to provide contraception to it’s employees,  it clearly states that the opinion should not apply  to blood transfusions or vaccines — all things other religious corporations may find issue with. How is it that something 99% of women will use in their lifetimes is fair ground for restriction…but everything else is not?

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia rallies outside of the Supreme Court as the Hobby Lobby decision is announced

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia rallies outside of the Supreme Court as the Hobby Lobby decision is announced

Furthermore, while Hobby Lobby denies birth control coverage to its women employees, it still covers several forms of reproductive health care for men, including Viagra and vasectomies.  The fact that all of the women on the Supreme Court dissented in this decision is only further proof of discrimination—women now have limited access to birth control if their bosses object to it because five male justices on the Supreme Court voted in Hobby Lobby’s favor. Once again, men are the ones making the decisions about women’s bodies.

It is absolutely deplorable that we are living in the 21st century and still dealing with not only restricted access to abortions, but now also restricted access to birth control. It is unconscionable that women cannot be afforded protection from highly damaging verbal attacks outside of abortion clinics. The Supreme Court has sunk to a new low, and the women on the court know it, especially Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who penned the quote at the beginning of this article in her scathing 35-page dissent to the Hobby Lobby ruling. This week marks the beginning of what may be a slippery slope for the rights of targeted and oppressed groups across America. If the Supreme Court can legalize sexism, what else can they do? What is next? The answer to that question is certainly terrifying, but as pro-choice, feminist activists we must continue to push forward. While we may have lost two battles this week, the war is far from over.

Sign up to volunteer with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia & help us continue the fight for reproductive health and rights in the Commonwealth.


Introducing Alyssa!

By Alyssa Seidorf, 2014 Advocacy & Communications Intern

Hello Virginia! My name is Alyssa Seidorf, and I am so thrilled to be working as a summer 2014 Advocacy & Communication Intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. I am a recent graduate of Virginia Tech where I spent my college years completely immersed in feminist activism. Working for gender equality and reproductive justice are passions of mine that I know I will dedicate the rest of my life to supporting.

Alyssa Seidorf, a new 2014 Advocacy & Communications Intern!

Alyssa Seidorf, a new 2014 Advocacy & Communications Intern!

My brand of feminism is about compassion, listening to others lived experiences, and working to make the world a more just place so that everyone might one day be respected, valued, and heard. As Hillary Clinton famously said, “Women’s rights are human rights”, and I am so excited to join forces with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia as they support legislators who understand and respect this while also working to block policies that undermine women’s safety and bodily autonomy. Virginians deserve better than TRAP regulations, ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’, and politicians who are out of touch with Virginian women and their families!

I am so excited to embark on this new adventure with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia to support work to ensure every Virginian has reproductive justice – access to a full range of healthcare options, comprehensive sex education, and the empowerment and means to raise (or not) a family at a time that is right for them. Advocacy to educate young people about their body and rights is one of the fundamental steps to ensuring our youth are equipped to make healthy reproductive health decisions, and I am so excited to start my first project to help get this vital information into their hands!

Pro-choice on campus: George Mason University

By Elvira Razzano, Choice Out Loud intern at George Mason University 

After our pro-choice student organization was forced to disband in the Spring of 2013 due to a low member turnout at meetings, I was motivated to build a coalition of pro-choice students at George Mason University. I was excited to join NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia as their Choice Out Loud intern on campus, and I immediately  started  reaching out to my pro-choice friends, who donated their time to advertising my events and helped me table to recruit more pro-choice students.

Elvira Razzano on the George Mason University campus!

From the start, our biggest obstacle was the fact that our campus climate definitely leaned anti-choice; there is a registered pro-life student organization that frequently holds events on campus, most visibly by holding graphic images in the center of campus every so often. However, I knew that with enough momentum we could show George Mason University that their movement did not represent the student body as a whole.

On a rainy Friday afternoon in February, I organized a few students to counter-protest these anti-choice,  graphic images on campus. We got plenty of thumbs up and thank-yous from passersby, showing us that the student body recognized and appreciated our pro-choice efforts. It was that day that I learned that the Genocide Awareness Project, an anti-choice organization that travels to college campuses with huge graphic images that compare abortion to genocide, was coming to campus.  I knew I had to do something, so I spent most of March planning a massive counter-protest against them.

GMU Protest

Elvira organized dozens of GMU students to protest an offensive anti-choice display on campus

I’m happy to report that pro-choice students were a constant presence against the Genocide Awareness Project when they were on campus March 24th, 25th, and 26th! We held assertive signs with slogans that said “Pro Choice is not Pro Abortion,” “My Constitutional Rights Are Not Up For Debate,” and “Not Your Uterus? Not Your Decision.” We engaged in peaceful conversation with members of the Genocide Awareness Project and received overwhelming support and affirmation from the Mason community; some students were compelled to drop their things, grab a sign, and counter-protest with us.

Although the counter-protest against the Genocide Awareness Project was a huge success, it is imperative that the Mason community knows that reproductive rights are still under attack even though the Genocide Awareness Project is no longer on our campus. I am excited to spend the rest of my Choice Out Loud internship letting the Mason community know just that!

Ken Cuccinelli Blatantly Misleads Virginians on Birth Control Stance

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2013

Ken Cuccinelli Blatantly Misleads Virginians on Birth Control Stance 

Despite repeated attempts to criminalize and restrict birth control, GOP gubernatorial candidate now claims government shouldn’t legislate contraception

This morning while speaking at Ashby Ponds Senior Center in Loudoun County, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli once again attempted to whitewash his long record of attacking women’s health and rights.  After receiving a question on his 2007 “personhood” legislation that could have outlawed several forms of birth control, Cuccinelli stated that – despite all evidence to the contrary – he doesn’t actually believe government should legislate contraception.  Cuccinelli said, “I don’t think government should be doing anything about birth control or birth control devices… Government legislation shouldn’t address contraception – that kind of thing.”

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, reacted with shock at Cuccinelli’s blatant attempt to mislead Virginians on his extreme anti-choice record:

“Ken Cuccinelli has a long and clear history of working to insert government into Virginians’ private, personal medical decisions. Throughout his career Cuccinelli has  exemplified anti-choice politicians who are not only opposed to safe legal abortion but who also want to roll back the clock on access to birth control and sex education – the very means of preventing unintended pregnancy. Now, after years spent attempting to impose criminal restrictions on birth control for minors and supporting a ‘personhood’ bill that could have outlawed IUDs and the pill, Ken Cuccinelli actually wants Virginians to believe he stands for contraceptive freedom. The hypocrisy is outrageous – and Virginians aren’t buying it.” 

Top five ways Cuccinelli has tried to “do something” about birth control:

  1. Co-sponsored 2007 “Personhood” bill to ban abortion without exception, including in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the health of the woman. The bill could also have laid the groundwork for anti-choice attacks on the legality of many common and FDA-approved forms of birth control, including the pill.
  2. Co-sponsored bill to make it more difficult for young women to receive birth control. Legislation would require a teenager’s parents or guardians to be notified every time he/she sought information or treatment for STIs or emergency contraception.
  3. Co-sponsored legislation to put criminal restrictions on birth control for minors. Legislation would have made it a Class 6 felony for a doctor to provide a minor with legal and FDA-approved contraception if he/she had reason to believe that the minor was engaging in sexual relations with a person three or more years older.
  4. Sponsored legislation to funnel money to Virginia “crisis pregnancy centers” – anti-choice fake clinics that regularly lie about birth control and discourage its use. Last month Virginia CPCs were caught on tape suggesting that the birth control pill causes cancer and that condoms are “naturally porous”.
  5. In January Cuccinelli suggested that Virginians should “go to jail” to protest the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, which guarantees insurance coverage of birth control without co-pay. He has been at the forefront of attacks on the Affordable Care Act, which ensures that women’s insurance covers their basic preventative health care needs, including contraception. Cuccinelli has even gone so far as to call improved access to birth control a “sterilization mandate.” 


Contact: Alena Yarmosky,, (240) 595-2972

Is Your Legislator Pro-Choice? Check out our 2013 Scorecard!

By Caitlin Bancroft, Legal Intern

When it comes to protecting access to comprehensive reproductive health care, do you know where your state legislator stands?

During the 2012 General Assembly session, Virginia’s legislature shocked the nation with a series of appalling and unapologetic attacks on women’s rights. In the year since, pro-choice advocates and legislators have fought back with gusto. Our amazing pro-choice champions in the House and Senate introduced a total of eleven new pro-choice bills intended to repair some of the damage caused by the 2012 session. Among these 2013 bills was a roll-back of TRAP legislation, removal the mandatory ultrasound law and an attempt to insulate birth control access from further legislative outreach.  Our pro-choice legislators really went to bat for us this year, and we are so grateful for their efforts! Unfortunately, despite the courageous efforts of our allies in the General Assembly, virtually all pro-choice bills were defeated in committee by Virginia’s anti-choice majority. Fortunately there was one bright spot of the session, when House Bill 1876, a pro-choice measure to eliminate the waiting period before voluntary sterilization, was passed by an overwhelming majority.

With critical statewide elections for the coming up this fall, Virginia’s the conservative anti-choice legislators tried to publicly lay off women’s health in the hopes of avoiding the intense media scrutiny that their antics garnered in 2012. Nonetheless they were unable to temper their radicalism. In total, there were five anti-choice bills introduced during the session, which included attempts to limit contraception coverage, institute criminal penalties for sex-selective abortions, and repeal abortion funding for low-income women in cases when the fetus has an incapacitating physical or mental anomaly. Though fewer in number, the bills showed a disturbing trend toward overt attacks on the access of low income women, who already have a harder time accessing healthcare. Fortunately, all of these bills were killed in committee. But just when it seemed we were to escape the season unscathed, the veto session changed everything.  In a heart-breaking vote of 20-19, the Virginia Senate approved an amendment that prohibits any insurance plan sold within the Virginia health benefits exchange from covering abortion care.

The amendment was a ruthless and illogical attack on the autonomy of Virginian women. Under the guise of prohibiting “tax-payer funded abortion,” the senate prohibited them from spending their own money on abortion coverage – a standard benefit in the majority of healthcare plans. The result is that Virginia women must find insurance outside of the exchange and pay much more from comprehensive healthcare coverage. Unfortunately, for the women in Virginia who don’t have the financial resources to shop outside of the exchange, the senate refused to even permit women to buy an abortion coverage rider directly from the insurance company. Despite passing no anti-choice laws in the main session, the season ended on a sour note with the passage of the amendment to HB 1900 and the enactment of the 2011 TRAP laws.

Here’s the good news: this year is an election year and we know that ELECTIONS MATTER! That’s why we’re so excited to present out 2012 – 2013 Voting Record on Choice, your guide to Virginia lawmakers’ votes on reproductive rights over the past two years. Is it so important that every pro-choice Virginian understand all that happened over the past two legislative sessions on women’s health particularly since many of our most extreme anti-choice politicians are up for election. We have watched time and again as these anti-choice politicians have embodied everything that is wrong with politics by abusing their power and advancing an ideological agenda to strip other people’s rights. It’s time for Virginia to hold our legislators accountable and elect legislators who actually represent Virginia’s pro-choice majority!

Read our 2012-2013 scorecard, then contact your legislator and let them know how you feel about their votes on women’s health!

Now and in the lead up to November, it is paramount that we reverse this trend of intrusive laws that govern our right to choose – before it gets worse. Virginia’s anti-choice politicians have shown that they will use every opportunity to pass extreme and unconscionable laws, so we need to make sure we never give them another opportunity.

We know that the majority of Virginians are pro-choice and it’s about time our legislators knew it too. Read our scorecard and contact your legislator now!

Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition Tweetchat!

This Thursday,  Feb. 7th, is the Virginia Pro-Choice Day of Action….and we are PUMPED.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is so excited to join our fellow women’s health advocates and activists in locations across the Commonwealth as we fight for reproductive rights and critical access to health care. With events in Arlington, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Richmond, Roanoke, and DC, there are a TON of opportunities for you to get involved this Thursday! Check out our registration page for more details, including shift times, locations, and directions. We can’t wait to see you there!

Stuck at work or at home on Thursday? No worries – there are plenty of ways for you to take action online. This year, we are happy to announce our Day of Action Tweetchat, which will take place from 1-2pm!

DOA Tweetchat

On Thursday at this time, Virginia’s health care providers, pro-choice organizations, and women’s rights activists will be live-tweeting about the status of reproductive rights, choice, and access in VA – and how we can ensure safe, affordable, and accessible health care for all.

We will also have some special guests joining us, including: WIN (@WINonline), fabulous feminist bloggers & activists Erin Matson (@ErinToTheMax) and Jessica Pieklo (@hegemommy), superstar women’s rights advocate Lily Bolourian (@LilyBolourian), and others!

Join the conversation this Thursday from 1-2pm by following us (@NARALvirginia) and using the hashtag #4healthVA. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the ongoing fight for Virginia’s reproductive health!

Members of the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition:

PCC coaltion orgs

Virginia NOW, Progress VA, American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, Unite Women Virginia, National Council of Jewish Women of Virginia, Jewish Community Relations Council of Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, League of Women Voters of Virginia, American Association of University Women of Virginia

Tell Your Senator to Pass Pro-Choice Legislation NOW!

If we are going to have a shot at turning back last year’s overwhelming tide of anti-choice legislation, we need your help right nowOver the past two years, Virginia’s  lawmakers have passed some of the most stringent restrictions on  reproductive rights in the county.  We all remember 2012’s outright War on Virginia Women: attempts to grant “personhood” status to fertilized eggs, attempts to force trans-vaginal ultrasounds on women seeking safe legal abortion care, and even a bill to ban abortion outright at 20 weeks – with no real exemption for the health or life of the mother.

Now, we’re fighting back. Our pro-choice allies in the General Assembly have introduced legislation to protect women’s rights, ensure access to reproductive health care, and repeal the worst of last year’s attacks:

  • Sen. Ralph Northam and Sen. Barbara Favola have introduced legislation  (SB 1080 and SB 1082) in the Senate to repeal Virginia’s invasive forced ultrasound law, which currently forces Virginia women to undergo a mandatory ultrasound 24 hours before accessing her constitutionally-protected right to an abortion.
  • Sen. Mark Herring has introduced SB 1115 and SB 1116, which would repeal and negate onerous and burdensome targeted regulations (TRAP)  on women’s health centers in Virginia. If not repealed, TRAP regulations will likely force the majority of Virginia’s women’s health clinics to shut their doors.
  • Sen. Donald McEachin has introduced the Birth Control Protection Act (SB 783), to formally distinguish between FDA-approved methods of contraception and abortion. Without a formal definition, anti-choice lawmakers can continue to blur the line between birth control and abortion, and may attempt to restrict birth control as stringently as abortion.

If passed, these bills will help restore reproductive rights, protect women’s health, and  make a positive difference for thousands of Virginian women. But first, each bill must be passed by the Senate Education and Health Committee if they are to continue to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Every one of our pro-choice bills in the Senate (including every one mentioned above) will be heard in the Senate Ed & Health committee this Thursday, January 17. If these important bills have even the slightest shot at becoming law, they must be approved by Committee on Thursday.

TAKE ACTION NOW: If your Senator serves on this committee,  tell him or her to support these critical pro-choice bills! Here is the list of Senators on the Education and Health Committee who will be considering these bills:

If you are unsure who your Senator is, please go here to find out. 

If your Senator is serving on the Ed & Health Committee (and will be voting on these bills Thursday), now is the time to CONTACT. Email or call your Senator and urge them to vote in support of these bills and send this important legislation to the Senate floor! 

Sample letter to your Senator:

Dear Senator [NAME],

As your constituent, I’m contacting you today to urge you to vote in support of SB 1082, SB 1080, SB . 1115, SB 1116 and SB 783. If passed these bills will protect reproductive rights, repeal Virginia’s most burdensome and unnecessary restrictions on women’s health, and increase access to essential medical care for thousands of Virginian women.

Currently, Virginia’s forced ultrasound law inappropriately inserts the government into the homes and doctor’s offices of women and their families.  This law marks the first time the Virginia General Assembly has mandated a diagnostic test that supersedes a doctor’s advice and a patient’s consent, and represents a significant road block for women seeking to access their constitutionally protect right to an abortion. SB 1080 and SB 1082 would repeal and negate this law and ensure that Virginian women are given the support and respect they deserve.  Please vote in favor of these bills.

Senate Bill 1115 and Senate Bill 1116 would eliminate the law passed in 2011 that requires women’s health clinics to comply with the construction standards of new hospitals.  Targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP) are burdensome, medically unnecessary, and nothing but a thinly-veiled attempt to shut down Virginia’s women’s health clinics.  First trimester abortions are among the safest of all medical procedures, and  Virginia’s women’s health centers  have exemplary health records and have been inspected and listened by the Virginia Department of Health. If passed, SB 1115 and SB 1116 would ensure that the majority of women’s health centers remain open and continue to provide essential medical care. Please support these bills.

Finally, please vote in favor of SB 783, the Birth Control Protection Act. Currently, the Code of Virginia does not distinguish between FDA-approved methods of contraception and abortion. In absence of a clear definition, there have been attempts to blur the lines between contraception and abortion, as well as limit access to family planning services under the code section relating to abortion. Contraception is basic health care for women, and is used by virtually every sexually active woman of reproductive age.  It is essential that birth control remains safe, accessible, and affordable for the women of Virginia.

Again, I urge you to stand with the women of Virginia and your district in supporting these critically important bills.


[Your name]

[Your home address]

Thank you for taking action! Please help us spread the word to your Virginia friends, neighbors, and family members. To stay updated, “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for up-to-the minute news from the halls of the General Assembly. And don’t forget to join us and hundreds of other pro-choice Virginians to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at the “Rally for Choice” at the Capitol in Richmond on Tuesday, January 22 at 10 a.m!

Pro-Choice on Campus: Update from Virginia Commonwealth University

This fall 2012 semester at Virginia Commonwealth University has been an active one in terms of pro-choice advocacy and activism. It started off with a rally at the Virginia Board of Health on September 14th, to show Virginia legislators that won’t put up with this TRAP (Targeted Regulations for Abortion Providers). Despite our efforts, the Board voted to approve legislation that will greatly diminish access to abortion in the future, and because of this, VCU students are riled up and want to know more. As VCU campus intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, I reigned in that energy and answered many questions.  12th&Del

I spent the next month, before the voter registration cut-off date, talking to students about pro-choice representation and the power of the youth vote.  I teamed up with some of our campus’ social justice organizations that were tabling in the campus commons—while they were registering students to vote, I chatted with them about anti-choice laws in Virginia and in the nation.

In November, I held a documentary showing of 12th & Delaware, a documentary showing the hardships of women tricked into going into a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) across the street from an abortion clinic and of women trying to get into the abortion clinic, past the protesters from the CPC. After the showing, the many attendees’ questions were answered and a lively discussion was had about those who end up going to Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Virginia as a huge barrier to reproductive freedom.

Since VCU has a big art school and thriving art community, In December I created a gallery style infoshop in the Student Art Space in the student commons. Students, on their way to and from class or on their way to study for exams, popped in to see the display I had set up. Dangling frosafiya1m the ceiling, near the entrance of the art space, I printed out and hung stories of women facing barriers to abortion services in Virginia. On the wall hung the eleven common lies that Crisis Pregnancy Centers tell to women with unwanted pregnancies in order to convince them out of abortions. On pedastals throught the gallery, there were spreads of pamphlets and stickers from NARAL Pro-Choice’s #TruthFail campaign. Curious students were shocked by the outlandish lies of CPCs and touched by the real women’s stories. The info displayed in the info/art show provoked many great conversations about the realities of abortion access.

At the very end of the semester I wrote an opinion piece for the school newspaper, The Commonwealth Times. For the 2012/2013 school year, the student handbook/calendar had two advertisements of local Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Since CPCs prey on college-aged students, I let it be known that such ads are inappropriate and unwanted. My goal in writing the piece was to urge students and administrators alike to speak out against advertisements for fake clinics that could potentially jeopardize the health of VCU students.

This semester, as I worked to raise awareness of issues I am passionate about, I turns out I learned a lot myself. I learneCPCreadingd how easy it is to forget that while many are in the know about issues surrounding abortion access, many still aren’t. I learned how easy it is to engage people in a conversation about issues they might not know to be relevant to them. I learned how fun it is to work hard advocating for reproductive health and raising awareness about the barriers to abortion that exist regardless of law. As many consciousness-raising conversations as I had with other students on my campus, there is still much work to be done in the quest for true reproductive freedom.

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: