Keep an anti-choice agenda out of Virginia’s budget & restore reproductive health care programs

You may have heard that the latest outrageous, disrespectful remark about women’s reproductive rights to stir up national ridicule and backlash came from Virginia’s own state Senator Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield). In a Facebook post dismissing a Valentine’s Day card he received from our Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition, in which we urged him to support access to the full range of reproductive health care services for Virginians, Sen. Martin referred to pregnant women as “hosts” for a child and otherwise showed just how little he gets what’s at stake. His post as a whole was another insight into how little respect and understanding anti-choice lawmakers like Senator Martin have for women’s reproductive lives and deeply personal decisions.

But current anti-choice attacks in Virginia’s General Assembly go beyond what politicians are saying — they’re also trying to push their agenda into law through the budget.

The version of Virginia’s two-year budget approved by the House of Delegates last week includes several amendments that push an anti-choice agenda and go after reproductive health care access, particularly for low-income Virginians. If passed, the House-approved budget amendments would:

  • Defund Planned Parenthood, blocking thousands of Virginians from receiving affordable preventative reproductive health care services like birth control and cancer screenings at their chosen provider (4-5.04 #3h)
  • Taking away coverage for abortion care for low-income, Medicaid-eligible pregnant women who are diagnosed with severe fetal anomalies, thereby taking away options from vulnerable families at a difficult time (4-5.04 #6h)
  • The budget even includes a laughable amendment from Delegate Bob Marshall to prevent Gov. McAuliffe from using executive action to repeal TRAP regulations – something the law doesn’t allow him to do anyway! (4-5.04 #4h)

Meanwhile, the House’s approved budget did not include several budget amendments passed by the Senate that would restore funding for programs that actually promote reproductive health care access for all Virginians, like:

  • Plan First, which provides family planning services for low-income people (301 #38s)
  • FAMIS MOMS, which is health coverage for low income pregnant women to ensure they can access prenatal and maternity care (301 #17s)
  • Marketplace Virginia, a common-sense compromise to close the Medicaid coverage gap and ensure that up to 250,000 Virginians have comprehensive, affordable health care (more info)
The budget now moves to a joint conference committee of House and Senate members who will decide what appears in the final budget. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and our coalition partners are  urging the conference committee to remove the House amendments that would restrict reproductive health care access, and instead restore funding to critical reproductive health safety-net programs and work to extend health care coverage to more Virignians.

BREAKING: Help repeal VA mandatory ultrasound law NOW!

Last night, pro-choice Virginians won a huge victory when Lynwood Lewis was officially declared the next state Senator from District 6. With this narrow win, Democrats are poised to possibly take control over the Virginia senate with a 20-20 split and pro-choice champion Ralph Northam as the tie-breaking vote!

Unfortunately, extreme anti-choice politicians will stop at nothing to continue their attacks on Virginians’ health and rights.  While Democrats appear ready to take power over the Senate, a small GOP-controlled subcommittee will attempt one last attack on women’s health — defeating a pro-choice bill to repeal the mandatory ultrasound law!

This is nothing but a sneaky attempt to kill critical pro-choice legislation behind closed doors – and possibly right before power shifts. We need your help RIGHT NOW to fight back: Contact Sen. Newman (Chairman of the Health Care Subcommittee) and tell him to take S.B 617 off of today’s agenda!

Talking points: 

  •  S.B 617  is a common-sense bill to repeal Virginia’s invasive and insulting mandatory ultrasound ban and improve access to healthcare for thousands of women and families.  If passed, SB 617  would return private medical decisions back to patients and doctors – and get politicians out of Virginians’ personal healthcare choices.
  • With the recount results yesterday, it appears that Democrats are poised to take Senate power.  This bill should be given a full hearing by our rightfully elected officials – not sneakily buried behind closed doors.
  • I will be watching closely to see if you act in favor of women’s health and fair government — or if you continue to play games with our basic health and rights. 

In case Sen. Newman refuses to take the bill off the the agenda today, it is critical that we contact other subcommittee members and urge them to support SB 617. Tell these subcommittee members to support SB 617 and repeal Virginia’s ultrasound law now:

Talking points: 

  • We may not all feel the same way about abortion, but we can agree that these are personal, private decisions between a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor. Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman. You can’t make that decision for someone else.
  • Requiring an ultrasound before abortion is about political interference, not informed consent. Information should not be provided with the intent or result of shaming, judging, or making a woman change her mind.
  • Women don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. Politicians should not be involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy.

Thank you so much for taking action! 

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!

2013 Gen. Assembly Review!

The 2013 General Assembly session was fast and furious! Between attacks on birth control, pro-choice repeal bills, and sneaky amendments in the works, you may be confused about what exactly this year’s GA session means for the women of Virginia. But don’t worry – we’re here to break it down.

This year pro-choice champions in the Virginia House and Senate carried a total of 11 pro-choice bills, including legislation to repeal TRAP regulations, protect birth control in the Commonwealth, and strike Virginia’s current mandatory ultrasound requirement. We also faced 5 anti-choice bills, including legislation to restrict insurance coverage for birth control, ban sex-selective abortion, and repeal Medicaid funding for women with severe fetal anomalies.

Unfortunately, despite the valiant efforts of our legislative allies and our amazing pro-choice supporters, almost all pro-choice bills were defeated this session. Virginia’s anti-choice politicians were quick to strike down critical legislation to repeal TRAP regulations and the forced ultrasound law – in one case without even allowing for debate or discussion! Thankfully, we were happy and proud to see the passage of Del. Jennifer McClellan’s bill HB 1876, a pro-choice measure that will eliminate the waiting period before sterilization for Virginia residents who have not yet had children. Currently, childless women and men in Virginia are required to wait 30 days before obtaining an elective sterilization procedure, while those with children are not. This bill makes it easier for every person to decide whether and when to create a family, and we thank Del. McClellan for her great work on this!

VirginiaStateCapitol

We are also relieved to report that despite several legislative attempts to restrict women’s health, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and our allies were able to defeat all anti-choice legislation this session – a huge win considering our overwhelming anti-choice state government!  We could not have done it without you and the hundreds of other pro-choice Virginians who contacted their representatives and demanded an end to Virginia’s War on Women. Thank you for everything you have done!

Unfortunately, while the session may have come to an end, the fight is far from over. As reported in a recent Virginian Pilot article, Governor McDonnell is quietly planning to attach an amendment to health care reform legislation that would severely restrict Virginian women’s ability to access critical health care. Although we were able to defeat all anti-choice bills at the committee level, Governor McDonnell would attach his amendment to a bill that has already cleared both the House and Senate – and would go to a vote by both chambers during the General Assembly’s veto session at the end of March. Get more information McDonnnell’s behind-the-scenes abortion ban – and help us fight back!   

Ultimately, beyond the legislative antics and extreme anti-choice rhetoric (check out this gem from Sen. Dick Black), every General Assembly session reminds us of how lucky we are to work with Virginia’s amazing, passionate, and unstoppable pro-choice activists! This year we stood with you in Richmond to honor 40 years of Roe v. Wade, participated in a super successful Pro-Choice Day of Action, and even took to twitter to fight for increased health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s women and families.

We look forward to your support, activism, and enthusiasm as we continue the fight for reproductive rights in the Commonwealth!

Abortion is like WHAT?!? Sen. Dick Black is at it again

Hey Virginia, remember Sen. Dick Black? You know, our favorite state Senator who as former Delegate became infamous for handing out plastic fetuses on the floor, dismissing the concept of marital rape and referring to contraception as “baby pesticides“?

Well, he’s back. And after his most recent comments, we doubt you’ll forget him again.

This Tuesday, as hundreds of pro-choice Virginians rallied at the Capitol to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Sen. Dick Black took to the floor and actually compared abortion clinics to “Auschwitz”.  Let me repeat that. Forty years after abortion became legal in the United States, Sen. Black likened what is a constitutional, safe, and common medical procedure to NAZI GERMANY.

Watch the video:

This is nothing short of appalling.   Not only are Senator Black’s comments extremely offensive to my family and the families of the millions of people (yes – living, breathing, thinking, loving people) who were senselessly killed in the tragedy of the Holocaust, this sort of attack is part of a troubling and ever-expanding strategy to demonize the women of Virginia and the doctors who serve them.

In honor of 40 years of Roe v. Wade, please donate $40 to NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in Sen. Black’s name. We will send him a personal letter from you demanding an apology, and of course, thank him for the generous contribution made on his behalf.

Sen. Dick Black is not an outlier – not some sort of “bad apple” who happened to put his foot in his mouth. As is obvious after watching the Virginia General Assembly launch attack after attack on women’s health,  plenty of others in the Statehouse hold a similar disdain for a woman’s right to choose when and whether to have children. In fact, there are undoubtedly those in Virginia’s government who wouldn’t hesitate to join the Senator in comparing reproductive health to mass genocide and trained physicians to murderers.

So here we are. Forty years ago, women in Virginia and across the country were ingesting lye, hitting themselves with baseball bats, and throwing themselves down the stairs in order to end a pregnancy. Now, forty years after Roe v. Wade codified safe, legal abortion care, lawmakers like Sen. Black will stop at nothing to bring us back.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia will not go back. We will not allow women to die without access to reproductive healthcare, and we will not allow lawmakers like Sen. Black to impose their dangerous ideals onto the women and families of the Commonwealth.

Please join us in continuing this fight. Donate $40 to NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in honor of forty years of Roe v. Wade,  and we will send Senator Black a personal letter from you demanding an immediate apology.

Thank you for everything you do.

Alena Yarmosky

Advocacy & Communications Manager, NARAL Pro-Choice 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.

Sincerely,

[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!

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: 

Tell your Senator: Protect Virginia’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative!

The Virginia General Assembly is back in Richmond this week for a special session to resume work on the budget, and there was some tentative good news today as the Senate Finance Committee advanced their version of the state’s two-year budget — but your legislators need to hear from you now to make sure it becomes a reality!

As you may remember, Governor Bob McDonnell’s version of the budget, introduced in January, proposed eliminating all state funding for Virginia’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative programs. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, or TPPI, funds programs in seven health districts throughout the state with high rates of pregnancy among teenagers, including Alexandria, Petersburg, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Richmond, Roanoke, and the Eastern Shore. These programs provide sex education, information and resources on health and wellness, and access to contraception for thousands of Virginia young people.

The governor’s proposed budget eliminated all $455,000 in remaining state funding for TPPI programs, after the program’s funding was already slashed in his first two years in office.

Due to our advocacy and pressure by pro-choice legislators in the General Assembly, however, the version of the budget advanced by the Senate Finance Committee today does include restored funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative! If this ends up in the final budget approved by the Governor, it would be great news for the thousands of teens throughout Virginia who are served by this program and receive the knowledge and resources they need to protect their health and prevent unintended pregnancy.

The full Virginia Senate is expected to vote on their version of the budget plan this coming Monday, March 26th. Please contact your Senator today and let them know that preserving strong funding in the budget for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative programs is important to you!

You can find your state Senator and their contact information here.   Email or call their office today and urge them to support funding for teen pregnancy prevention initiatives in the budget plan!

(Once you’ve done that, please share this post and urge your friends and neighbors to do the same!)

2012 General Assembly Session in Review – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

The 2012 Virginia General Assembly session has finally come to an end. However, the general assembly adjourned without passing a budget because pro-choice senators would not stand by while funding for initiatives like the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPI) were being cut. They have a list of demands that they would like funded before they are willing to budge.

Rally

We are hoping the TPPI money will be restored since these programs have shown real progress in reducing teen pregnancy in areas of the state with the highest rates. It’s not too late to let your legislator know that you think restoring TPPI funding and helping teens make healthy, responsible decisions should be a priority in budget negotiations. (Not sure who your legislator is? Check here to find out.)

Below is a quick choice-related wrap up on the good, the bad and the ugly of this session. To tell you the truth, in December, we feared we would see the passage of “personhood” and many other anti-choice priorities. It just goes to show that a lot of hard work and public outreach can go a long, long way! We could not have defeated the bills that we did without the support and action of our members, activists and allies.

Here is a quick run through of both our successes and difficult losses this year: Continue reading

What I Have Learned Today

Guest Post By Tara Casey

Early this morning, I learned that Governor McDonnell had ordered a SWAT Team to cover a Candlelight Vigil I attended the night before at the Governor’s Mansion. Riot police were hiding in the bushes, while my two small children and I sang, “This Little Light of Mine.”

In the mid-morning, I learned that compassion and logic do not have to be mutually exclusive, when a Virginia Senate Finance Committee quashed a House bill that would have cut funding to low-income women seeking abortions when a physician had certified a gross abnormality and malformity in their pregnancy.

In the afternoon, however, I learned that, as a woman, I do not have the capacity to make an informed decision without my physician performing what is deemed to be an unnecessary medical procedure.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators are better equipped and trained to prescribe medical procedures than treating physicians. I also learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure on a woman even when the medical community deems the procedure medically unnecessary.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators may have the compassion to exempt victims of the historically underreported crimes rape or incest from this legislation, but they are without any true logic by requiring these victims to have reported the crime to the police to qualify for the exemption.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure on a woman but refuse to require an insurance company to cover the procedure. I also learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure but refuse to pay for the procedure if a woman cannot afford it.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure even when the procedure itself does not provide the information sought for “informed consent.”

I learned that the flip phrases “jelly on the belly” and “abortion is a matter of lifestyle convenience,” which I personally heard in the halls of my state legislature, translate to actual votes and platform positions of disengaged legislators.

I learned that the prophetic phrase of Orwellian logic, “Ignorance is Strength,” came true in Virginia – not in 1984, but in 2012.