#StopKen

By: Katharine Donohoe, Development and Events Intern 

Are you ready to #StopKen? Tonight is the Governor Debate (at the Capital One Conference Center in McLean, Virginia from 6 to 8 PM; sign up and join us there!) and we asked a few people why they want to stop Ken Cuccinelli:

"Because my mother is not a second class citizen." -Travis

“Because my mother is not a second class citizen.” -Travis

"Because I think women should keep the right to make their own decisions." -Natalie

“Because I think women should keep the right to make their own decisions.” -Natalie

"I would like to see elected officials look out for and care about the health of all women." -Megan

“I would like to see elected officials look out for and care about the health of all women.” -Megan

"Because he is a cretin." -Will

“Because he is dangerous.” -Will

Ali and Molly want to #StopKen!

Ali and Molly want to #StopKen!

Share in the comments below why you want to #StopKen and keep the conversation going with us on Twitter! Together, we can #StopKen.

The truth about Mark Obenshain

By: Katharine Donohoe, Development and Events Intern

As the election continues to draw near, let’s revisit some of the actions that have shaped Mark Obenshain, the Republican candidate for Attorney General, into the politician he currently is. His record is, quite frankly, alarming. In 2009, Obenshain, introduced House Bill 962 which would have criminalized miscarriage by requiring women to report a miscarriage within 24 hours if not in the presence of a medical professional. It was detailed that ‘fetal remains’ were to be handed over to police and failure to comply with said bill would have resulted in up to a year’s jail time and a $2500 fine. After a public backlash, Obenshain withdrew the proposed legislation.

Mark Obenshain

Republican Attorney General Candidate, Mark Obenshain

Let’s put this in perspective for a moment. As a state senator, Mark Obenshain aimed to criminalize miscarriage and the failure to report it, compounding the heartache and tragic nature of it for the mother and her family or partner. What seemed especially frightening about this bill in particular is how Obenshain tried to detach women from their bodies and what happened.

A recently released video by Mark Herring’s campaign show the Neckel Family of Leesburg react to Obenshain’s proposed bill:

This is not Obenshain’s only foray into scarily conservative legislation; he also co-patroned a ‘personhood’ bill in 2011 that would have outlawed abortion and many types of common birth control in order to ‘constitutionally guarantee rights of unborn children’. Mark Obenshain also deemed the Virginia Senate and House proposed bills for transvaginal ultrasounds prior to abortion ‘common sense legislation’.

Furthermore, when Mark Obenshain was a member of James Madison University’s Board of Visitors, he took it upon himself to advocate for an end of the availability of emergency contraception at the on-campus student health center. As a recent graduate of James Madison, I find it absurd that Mark Obenshain focused his attention on that particular issue, given the fact that the student body is approximately 60% female. While that’s not to say every female student at JMU is ardently pro-choice, how can that majority be conveniently overlooked in the quest to push a personal agenda? Am I supposed to believe this man knows exactly what female college students need in terms of their personal, confidential health choices? Riiiight.

Mark Obenshain’s record speaks volumes to the sort of choices and causes he could further as Virginia’s Attorney General. It is clear he does not have the best interest of women and their autonomy in mind; Mark Obenshain’s top priority is restricting women’s rights, health choices, and personal medical decisions. Have you registered to vote yet?

Pro-Choice Candidate Profile: John Bell, District 87

By Marieke van Rijn, Advocacy & Communications Intern

John Bell is a retired Major of the United States Air Force who is running for the District 87 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Bell, a strongly pro-choice Democrat, is running against staunch anti-choice Republican incumbent David Ramadan.

Bell is a 100% pro-choice candidate who believes that medical decisions regarding family planning are deeply personal and not something politicians in Richmond should be involved in. We have proudly endorsed Bell for Delegate, along with our pro-choice partners  Planned Parenthood of Virginia and the Women’s Strike Force.

Defeating Ramadan in this election is incredibly important in ensuring women’s right to choose is protected. Ramadan’s anti-choice voting record is lengthy. From voting for a personhood legislation to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, to supporting medically unnecessary ultrasounds and trying to shut down women’s health centers that offer medical care and cancer-screenings, it is clear that Ramadan’s top priority is attacking women’s health and rights.

District 87, located in the southeast corner of Loudoun County, has been called “the Ohio of Virginia” and is thought to have the potential to have a major impact in the political direction Virginia will go in 2013. Currently, all of Loudoun’s House of Delegate seats are held by anti-choice Republicans, but with Loudoun County backing Obama for president and Kaine for senator in 2012, the county has the potential to lean left again this election. (In 2011, incumbent anti-choice Delegate Ramadan won his election by only 51 votes!)

Women’s choice in Virginia hangs in the balance in the 2013 gubernatorial elections. We strongly encourage you to donate your time and resources to help elect 100% pro-choice candidate John Bell and insure that women’s choice in family planning is kept private and protected in Virginia.

 In fact, you can join NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC Action Fund, and the Women’s Strike Force for a reception to support John Bell’s campaign on Saturday, September 28th in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington!

Cuccinelli’s ‘Father’s Rights’ Stance Proves Lack of Trust for Women

For Immediate Release: August 29, 2013

Contact: Alena Yarmosky, alena@naralva.org, (240) 595-2972

Cuccinelli’s ‘Father’s Rights’ Stance Proves Lack of Trust for Women

GOP Gubernatorial candidate has record of restricting women’s healthcare decisions; Keene calls revelation of Cuccinelli’s alliance with groups that claim women lie about abuse “wrong.”

 Today the Washington Post revealed Ken Cuccinelli’s pattern of association with Fathers’ Rights advocates some of whom oppose domestic violence protections, want to reduce child support payments, and insinuate that women lie about incidents of abuse.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, released the following statement condemning Cuccinelli’s association with the “Father’s Rights” movement:

“NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia believes that all women have the fundamental right to control their own futures and make decisions about their own lives. No woman should ever be forced by the government to do anything against her will – be it deciding to carry a pregnancy to term, end a pregnancy, or choose not to become a parent. The policies that these so-called “Fathers’ Rights” groups support could force a woman to stay in a marriage – even one in which she is enduring physical abuse – or risk being called a liar or losing contact with her own children. This is absolutely wrong, and goes against all that we stand for.

“Now more than ever, it is obvious that Ken Cuccinelli does not trust the women of Virginia. From injecting his own  ideological agenda into women’s personal and private medical decisions, to allying himself with the extreme beliefs of some “Fathers’ Rights” organizations that claim women lie about domestic abuse, Cuccinelli has proven himself to have absolutely zero respect for the intelligence, autonomy, and well-being of the Commonwealth’s women. Despite what Cuccinelli apparently believes, Virginian women can think and make our own decisions for ourselves – not only about our healthcare but about our families, our lives, and our futures. He should be ashamed.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is dedicated to protecting every woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions without government interference, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.

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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.” 

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Contact: Alena Yarmosky, alena@naralva.org, (240) 595-2972

2013 House of Delegate Endorsements!

We are so excited to announce that NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has issued our first round of endorsements in this year’s critical House of Delegate elections!

Currently there are only 31 pro-choice champions in the Virginia House of Delegates, compared to 56 extreme anti-choice officials. If we’re going to roll back the tide of anti-choice extremism in Richmond – and stop another round of “personhood” bills and dangerous abortion bans next year – we need to protect our current pro-choice champions and elect new Delegates on November 5 who will protect and defend women’s health and rights!

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has endorsed 13 pro-choice callengers and 18 pro-choice incumbents in this year’s critical elections.

The following endorsed candidates are running to join the Virginia House of Delegates:

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In addition, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is proud to endorse the following pro-choice incumbents, each of whom has an outstanding record of support for women’s health and rights:

Mark Keam, District 35
Ken Plum, District 36
Kaye Kory, District 38
Vivian Watts, District 39
Eileen Filler-Corn, District 41
Mark Sickles, District 43
Scott Surovell, District 44
Rob Krupicka, District 45
Charniele Herring, District 46
Patrick Hope, District 47
Robert Brink, District 48
Alfonso Lopez, District 49
David Toscano, District 57
Betsy Carr, District 69
Jennifer McClellan, District 71
Jeion Ward, District 92
Mayme BaCote, District 95

These candidates are each some of the strongest pro-choice fighters we’ve seen – but in order to win, they need our help right now. Please donate $25, $50, or $100 to our PAC today to give our candidates the resources they need to win in November.

Each of our endorsed candidates is 100 percent dedicated to protecting women’s health, and each will fight tooth and nail to defend and expand Virginians’ fundamental rights and access to medical care. These candidates are in their districts right now fighting their hardest for a pro-choice Virginia – and with so much on the line, we need your help to fight for them!

Please donate $25, $50, or whatever you can right now to elect 100% pro-choice champions this fall.

Thank you for continuing to stand with us!

Exposing Ken Cuccinelli’s “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

Earlier this week, we published shocking new audio from Virginia “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs). The audio – recorded undercover at two Virginia CPCs – includes a CPC staffer not only spreading misinformation about abortion, but telling a woman that the birth-control pill causes breast cancer and that condoms “don’t work.” (Download the full audio from the two visits here and here.) Centers like these receive funding from a variety of sources including “Choose Life” license plates available through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli – whose anti-choice activism has helped shut down legitimate women’s health clinics across the state – has said he was the “proud sponsor” of the legislation behind the license plates when he served in the State Senate. Through our investigation of crisis pregnancy centers in Virginia, we’ve discovered more about their deceptive tactics, the misinformation they share, and how they’re forwarding an anti-choice agenda under the guise of providing support to women facing unintended pregnancy.

Watch the video below:

UPDATE: Our video and the findings of our investigative report has already been met with outrage and shock from members of the press and public across Virginia and the country.  Check out some of the coverage and conversation happening online below:

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue also appeared on Politics Nation with Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss our findings and the threat from crisis pregnancy centers across the country.

We can defeat Cuccinelli, but we need an army to take him on. Add your name  so we can count you among the millions of Americans who don’t stand with Cuccinelli and his lies! 

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

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.