The new legislative session: ripe with social causes
This year’s session contains several important bills that bear watching.
From Loudoun Times:
In response to the rally, the House Democratic Caucus announced plans for legislation in support of women’s reproductive health later that morning.
“The Republicans did real damage to Virginia’s women by passing burdensome regulations” on a woman’s right to have abortion, Sen. Mark Herring of Leesburg said at the press conference.
Instead of legislators being motivated by ideology, “we should be motivated by helping Virginians,” said Herring, who represents parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Delegate Kaye Kory of Falls Church, who also represents part of Fairfax County, introduced House Bill 1560, which would remove the requirement to get an ultrasound before having abortion.
Delegate Vivian Watts of Annandale has introduced HB 1644, which would define birth control. “It makes it clear that using birth control is not considered an abortion,” Watts said.
Its hard to believe that we are still debating the use of birth control in the year 2013. How can that be? We thought birth control was a guaranteed right since Griswold was affirmed in 1965.
HB1644 Defines contraception
HB 1560 Removes the ultra-sound requirement
Notice that both of these bills have been introduced in the House of Delegates. The Courts of Justice Committee that determines the fate of these bills is heavily packed with ultra conservative Republicans with a strict social agenda.
One might recognize a few names. I was particularly pleased to see David Toscano’s name there to counter-balance Jackson Miller’s anti-choice vote. I don’t believe either of these bills will escape committee. Unfortunately, there are too many Republicans on the committee. Unfortunately again, Republicans are all out trying to out-conservative each other rather than using common sense. For instance, the thinking Jackson Miller would never vote against defining contraception. Bob Marshall would, but, but Miller isn’t Bob Marshall. I would like to see Jackson Miller go back to being his own man rather than being a puppet of the Uber-Right.
What bills should we consider important in Virginia? Surely we can’t have another round of Governor Ultra-Sound. Lets do away with that utter stupidity that is only for one purpose–to punish women, and get on with the business of Virginia. Let’s make a pact to get out of women’s reproductive organs and bedrooms and work to improve transportation, public safety, education and jobs.
Despite the public lashing Virginia GOP lawmakers took in 2012 over their support for an infamous mandatory ultrasound bill, some of them are kicking off the 2013 legislative session with a slew of new controversial bills that restrict women’s access to abortion and birth control.
State Sen. Thomas A. Garrett (R-Lynchburg) has introduced a bill that would prevent Medicaid from subsidizing abortion services for low-income women in cases “in which a physician certifies … that the fetus would be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency.” Women who currently receive Medicaid in Virginia have abortion coverage in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal abnormalities, or when the life of the mother is in danger.
Four other abortion- and contraception-related bills have been introduced by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), the author of the fetal personhood bill that state GOP leadership rejected in November. Three of Marshall’s bills would allow insurance providers the option to deny women contraception coverage, and a fourth would impose a criminal ban on doctors who knowingly perform sex-selective abortions.
Marshall’s abortion ban, reproductive rights advocates argue, will intimidate doctors and violate doctor-patient confidentiality without solving the problem of gender-related abortions. It could also encourage physicians to racially profile women who are seeking abortions, since the practice of sex-selective abortions is most common in South Asian countries that have a cultural preference for boys.
“This is a sexist and racist bill,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, in a conference call with reporters. “The true purpose under the guise of the concern for gender discrimination is to continue to strip away access to safe legal abortion services.”