Pro-Choice Candidate of the Day: Senator John Edwards, Senate District 21

We’re just two weeks away from one of the biggest elections for reproductive choice in Virginia in years. On Tuesday, November 8, Virginians across the state will go to the polls to vote on all 140 General Assembly seats. All this week on the blog, we are spotlighting pro-choice candidates of the day in key races across the state, so you know who will stand up for women’s health in Richmond and who we’re working to help elect this fall!

Welcome back to our pro-choice candidate of the day spotlight! Earlier today, we told you about the importance of re-electing pro-choice champion Senator Edd Houck.

Sen. John Edwards

For our second spotlighted pro-choice candidate of the day, we travel to the southwest corner of Virginia to Senate District 21. SD-21 covers the cities of Roanoke and Blacksburg and parts of Montgomery, Roanoke and Giles counties.

In this race, Senator John Edwards is the pro-choice candidate.

Senator Edwards, a Roanoke native and long-time public servant, has been a constant 100-percent pro-choice champion during his 15 years in the state Senate. Earlier this year, he stood up against politically-motivated regulations that place women’s access to abortion in jeopardy.

Senator Edwards, like Senator Houck, is a member of the vital Senate Committee on Education and Health, which frequently checks Governor McDonnell’s relentless anti-choice agenda.

Senator Edwards’ opponent is anti-choice state Delegate Dave Nutter. Delegate Nutter consistently scores zero-percent on our annual legislative scorecard.  In this year’s General Assembly session alone, Delegate Nutter voted in favor of four anti-choice bills or amendments.

While Senator Edwards was standing up for women’s rights and health during the 2011 legislative session, Delegate Nutter voted to:

  • Single out women’s health centers for politically-motivated new regulations that place women’s access to safe, legal abortion in jeopardy. (SB 924)
  • Grant constitutional rights to zygotes, effectively banning legal abortion and many FDA-approved birth control methods. (House Bill 1440)
  • Prevent a woman from using her own money in the free market to purchase private insurance that would cover abortion care. (House Bill 2147, House Bill 2434)
  • Restore money to failed abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs for Virginia youth. (House Bill 1500, amended)

Because Virginia’s state Senate is “mixed-choice,” we cannot afford to lose even one pro-choice vote this November — especially not to a staunchly anti-choice politician like Delegate Nutter. As a long-time champion of women’s health, Senator Edwards will continue to make sure the government does not intrude into the private medical decisions of Virginia women.

We know that Senator John Edwards will continue to be a strong pro-choice leader in Richmond. Learn how you can get involved to get out the pro-choice vote by visiting our Elections page.  Make sure to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 8 and remind all your pro-choice friends to do the same!

By NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia PAC staff. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Promoting support without shame at Virginia Tech

By Kathleen Dwyer

Virginia Tech Support Without Shame Campus Leader

This semester I have been building an on-campus group of pro-choice advocates to participate in an education campaign about reproductive healthcare in the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities. This is the Support Without Shame campaign, part of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. As the campus grassroots organizer for Virginia Tech, I raise awareness concerning crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in general and Blacksburg’s Pregnancy Resource Center specifically.

The Support Without Shame campaign has been busy with social media outreach, information booths, and recruiting, training and mobilizing volunteers to participate in on-campus advocacy. I organized meetings and presentations with health center administration, Virginia Tech classes, and student organizations to promote reproductive justice on campus and to educate about the current dangers CPCs pose to comprehensive and respectful reproductive health care. I even had a couple opinion editorials appear in the campus newspaper.

On April 5th, the campaign worked with Virginia Tech’s Young Democrats to cosponsor a film presentation of “12th & Delaware.” (See below for pictures.)

Spreading the word

12th & Delaware” is an award-winning documentary from the makers of Academy Award®-nominated “Jesus Camp.” The documentary follows activity on a quiet street corner in Florida where a comprehensive women’s health clinic stands literally across the street from a CPC. The film presents the tactics of this CPC to persuade women to carry their pregnancies to term no matter the situation. The film also shows how anti-choice groups and individuals harass women entering the women’s health clinic across the road.

Although I was already familiar with CPCs and their tactics, I still found myself angered and disturbed by this Florida CPC. The director of the CPC is a very religious woman, yet she and her coworkers lie to a woman about the gestational age of the fetus. Such use of lies to dissuade women from all their options seems contrary to her religious views. The film shows her manipulating women’s thoughts and feelings during this time of crisis. She even shows them grotesque videos of what she claims are an abortion procedure. In some cases, these same women are later shown at the comprehensive women’s health clinic, clearly shaken and terrified, seeking support and answers. Despite my familiarity with CPCs, I was appalled by the audacity of this woman and even more upset knowing that this goes on all over the country.

Discussing the film

12th & Delaware” exemplified the reasons I joined this campaign. I can’t sit idly by while women are lied to, manipulated, and harassed by people who think they know what’s best for everyone. I believe in providing medically accurate information, respectful counseling, and unbiased support. I believe in giving women the truth and letting them decide what’s best for them in their personal situation. “12th & Delaware” reminded me how important that is.

With petition signatures, an active Facebook page, and a growing number of people reached through meetings and tablings, this campaign has made an impressive initial impact on the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg community. We conclude the Spring semester having garnered strong initial support, but with nearly 30,000 students, we have more work to do on the Virginia Tech campus.  Many students still don’t know what a CPC is. We also have several people working against our campaign to promote comprehensive and respectful reproductive health options for the women in our community.

This situation exemplifies the work Support Without Shame has to do on our campus: while the director of the women’s clinic at Virginia Tech refuses to refer patients to the local CPC, the general health clinic has doctors who do refer patients there.

Talking about the dangerous practices of CPCs

The Support Without Shame Campaign at Virginia Tech has made great strides this semester, but the campaign is just getting started.

To get involved, email