Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Virgina Legislature Joins in the GOP's War on Women

The Republicans (plus two democrats) in the Virginia Senate have decided to join in the National GOP's war on women. Tomorrow, the VA Senate will vote on SB924, which just passed the House 67-32. The bill would effectively eliminate access for Virginia's women to clinics that perform first trimester abortions by forcing such clinics to adhere to the same regulations as hospitals do. This, of course, is not necessary as such clinics are already sufficiently regulated.

If this effort seems like it's coming out of nowhere, that's because it is. The amendment was slipped in. According to NARAL Pro-choice Virginia:
This bill would require the Board of Health to issue regulations for hospitals, nursing homes, and certified nursing facilities. As originally written, the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Unfortunately, anti-choice Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Campbell County) offered an amendment changing the definition of hospitals to include “facilities in which five or more first trimester abortions per month are performed.” 

If you think the bill is being sent from the GOP-dominated House to the Dem-dominated Senate to die, think again. As reported in the Virginia Politics blog:
Two conservative Democrats who oppose abortion -- Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) and Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) -- said Tuesday they plan to support the measure, in a chamber where Democrats hold a 22 to 18 majority. Their votes would raise the possibility of a 20 to 20 tie. A tie would be broken by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who supports regulations.

And then Governor McDonnell will be ready and waiting to sign it into law. Because he and other anti-choicers want to "ensure that all outpatient surgical centers are treated the same, in order to ensure the health and safety of our citizens." I see, they want all outpatient surgical centers to get equal treatment. Or, maybe it's because Virginia Republicans are such big fans of excess regulations. No, no, it's because they want to keep women who get abortions safe. Yes, that's it.

Puh-lease. The Virginia GOP (plus two Democrats) wants to shut down these clinics because they provide first trimester abortions, and probably because they provide contraception, too. Only, they don't have have the balls to admit it.

I am squarely pro-choice, but I can understand why people are against abortion. I would guess that the vast majority of women who choose to have abortions hate abortion. But I agree with Hilary Clinton when she says that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. Ruth Marcus's piece in response to House Republicans' assault on family planning  applies here: When those clinics are shut down, many Virginia women will not only lose access to the contraception that prevent abortions in the first place, but to general reproductive health care. Furthermore, without access to contraception, rates of pregnancies will increase and so will unsafe abortions. I would have so much more respect for anti-abortion crusaders if they actually worked to prevent abortions from having to happen in the first place, but they don't; they work to promote ineffective sex education programs, to limit access to contraception, to decimate women's healthcare services, and to keep abortion unsafe, frequent, and illegal.

As my uncle always says about American politics, "You have two choices. You can have the Democrats in your wallet or the Republicans in your bedroom. I'd rather have the Democrats in my wallet." So would I, Uncle Roger. So would I. Since Republicans are already raiding our middle and working class wallets to fund tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, I say to Virginia Senators:

Get the hell out of my bedroom and while you're at it, stay away from my uterus.

Contact your senator now and tell them to oppose SB924.

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