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

Senate committee rejects bill targeting low-income women with severely complicated pregnancies

Good news from the Virginia Senate this morning! We can add H.B. 62, a bill seeking to defund health care coverage for low-income women who choose abortion because of serious fetal anomaly,  to the list of anti-choice bills rejected by the General Assembly this year. (This list already includes the infamous “personhood” for fertilized eggs bill H.B. 1 that the Senate shelved last week, as well as as S.B. 637, which would have outright banned later abortions with only the narrowest exceptions and set up a challenge to Roe v. Wade.)

This morning the Senate Committee on Finance voted to “pass by” H.B. 62 indefinitely, meaning it will not move on to the full Senate for a vote. The bill had previously been approved by the Senate Committee on Education and Health (see our tweets from that hearing here), but an amendment added there had sent the bill to the Finance committee, where it was ultimately rejected. See below for our statement on this legislative victory:

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“Personhood” and Mandatory Ultrasound: What would they mean for Virginia women’s rights and freedom?

On the last days before bills crossover between the House and the Senate for this Virginia General Assembly session, one would think the legislators of each chamber might be be debating bills about the most pressing issues our Commonwealth faces — how to help Virginians and create jobs during the economic recession, how to cut crime in the Commonwealth, how to advance the education of our state’s young people.  But instead, the newly emboldened anti-choice majority in the House of Delegates  spent time pushing two extreme anti-choice measures and advancing them to the state Senate: the highly unpopular measure of granting “personhood” status and rights to fertilized eggs (H.B. 1), and a bill forcing a woman to undergo an ultrasound — even an invasive vaginal probe ultrasound — before an abortion, regardless of whether its medically-necessary or whether a woman wants it  (H.B. 462).

What are these two bills and what would they mean for Virginia women if the state Senate and Governor McDonnell were to approve them? Learn more:

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Take Action: Oppose H.B. 1 “personhood” for zygotes bill in the Virginia Senate

After the passage of the H.B. 1 “personhood” for fertilized eggs bill by the Virginia House of Delegates yesterday, many people are asking us what they can do to fight back.

H.B. 1, authored by none other than the extreme anti-choice Delegate Bob Marshall, would lay the legal groundwork to ban abortion and attack common forms of contraception in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns or weakens women’s privacy rights as confirmed in Roe v. Wade. H.B. 1 will now move to the state Senate for consideration — and if it passes there too, to the desk of Governor Bob McDonnell.

It’s time to show lawmakers that Virginians can see through this insidious attempt to undermine reproductive rights in Virginia and that we reject its goals of outlawing all abortion and attacking women’s access to common forms of birth control like the pill, emergency contraception and IUDs. It would lay the legal groundwork for more government interference in all pregnancies and all aspects of a woman’s reproductive life and health.

Here are some ways you can take action right now:

Edited to add (2/17/12):

You can directly contact the senators who sit on the Senate Education & Health Committee, where H.B. 1 will be heard and voted on in the Senate as soon as next week. Their names and contact information can be found here.

And of course, you can contact Governor Bob McDonnell and ask him not to sign H.B. 1 if it should pass the Senate and come to his desk.

Pass this information on to your friends and neighbors and ask them to get involved as well!

House of Delegates approves both personhood bill and mandatory ultrasound bill

On the last day before bills crossover between the House and the Senate for this General Assembly session, the House of Delegates passed H.B. 1 a bill granting personhood status and rights to fertilized eggs by a vote of 66-32.

The House also passed a bill to force women to have an ultrasound — and potentially an invasive transvaginal ultrasound — 24 hours before an abortion regardless of if it is medically necessary or if a woman wants it. This bill, H.B. 462, passed by a vote of 63-36.

We are severely disappointed that the anti-choice majority in the House of Delegates has put their ideological agenda and political concerns above women’s rights and health yet again. What’s worse is the disregard that anti-choice lawmaker show for the real impact these bills would have on women’s lives. We’ll continue to fight these and other anti-choice bills passed by the House as they move over to the Senate side.

Read our full press statement after the jump:  Continue reading

Recap of tweets from Virginia House of Delegates debate on HB1 “personhood” bill

After the jump, check out our Storify recap of tweets during the H.B. 1 debate on the floor of the House of Delegates on Monday, February 13, 2012.

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