HB 1: The Fetal Personhood Bill, back again for another round. Establishes “personhood” as beginning at conception, outlawing all abortion and processes that could interfere with a fertilized egg.
HB 1285: Bans and criminalizes abortions after 20 weeks gestation, except in narrow cases of medical threat to the mother, under the assumption that at this level of development, unborn children can feel pain. Depending upon what penalties are incurred, who determines what severity of medical threat merits a termination, and the impact of “methods most likely to allow the survival of the child” on the mother’s health, this could be an inconsequential bill or a negative one.
HB 1316: Establishes sex-selective abortions as a felony, requires women seeking abortions to sign a statement acknowledging this. Sex-selective abortion is not a widespread or even observed problem in Virginia; this bill was generated to support the anti-abortion talking point that it is, and to provide another avenue of prosecuting doctors who perform abortions.
HB 1112: Eliminates the HPV vaccine requirement for girls entering public school. The driving motivation of this bill is the colloquial belief that protecting girls from Human Papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer, will cause them to become promiscuous. This has potentially wide-reaching public health implications, and is based on a misconception.
SB 277: Prohibits and criminalizes forced abortion. At face value this appears positive- nobody should be forced to have an abortion against their will. However, it was introduced by the same senator, Ralph K. Smith (R), who introduced the anti-sex-selective abortion bill, and appears to be merely another way to enter fetuses at all levels of development into law as “unborn children”. Supports the anti-abortion meme that abortion doctors force women into abortions.
SB 21: Broadens the definition of rape to remove the requirement of force. “Any person who has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, accomplished against the complaining witness’s will by coercion, is guilty of rape. Currently such an offense must be accomplished by force, threat, or intimidation.”
HB 1315: A Conscience Clause exempting employers from covering contraception, sterilization, and abortificant drugs in their employee insurance plan, for any reason.
HB 1314: Requires that all insurers offering policies to employers offer a policy that does not include contraception, sterilization, and abortificant drug coverage, in order to furnish employers who are taking advantage of the Conscience Clause outlined in HB 1315.
Buckle up, looks like it’s going to be an interesting season yet again.
I combed through the submitted legislation to be heard at the Virginia 2013 General Assembly, and found significant bills in the areas of: Elections, Education, Employment and Public Benefits, Taxes and Finance, Prisoners and Crime, LGBTQ Concerns, and Reproductive Rights and Related Issues.
Here are the worst that I saw, which will require strong opposition during the upcoming legislative season:
1. HB 1: The Fetal Personhood Bill, back again for another round. Establishes “personhood” as beginning at conception, outlawing all abortion and processes that could interfere with a fertilized egg.
2. SJ 17: A proposal to amend the state constitution to allow the Virginia Board of Education to establish charter schools. Meaning, to establish private schools with public monies. This is yet another attack on public education by privatization interests.
3. SJ 25, HJ 536: Proposes a constitutional amendment to disallow union-only shops. Establishes Virginia as a “Right to Work” state. This was conceived not to protect workers from exorbitant dues or to provide for employee choice regarding professional associations, but instead to prevent unions from becoming large enough to effectively bargain collectively. Declares unions that have achieved “an employment monopoly in any enterprise” to be a criminal conspiracy.
4. HB 487: Proposes that convicted prisoners should be charged for their transport to a jail or prison. This would be yet another charge- in addition to rent, fees for medical attention, cost of stationary, stamps, sanitary materials, and additional food- incurred by a population that tends to come from poverty, and that rarely makes even close to minimum wage while working in prison.
5. HB 567: Eliminates the continuing contract for teachers who have not achieved contracted status by the 2013-2014 school year. Instead, contracts will be meted out in three year periods, and to be eligible for a contract, a new teacher must first teach for five years. This bill is a major threat to educators, who will now be in a position of even less job stability than they currently have. This will also make it harder for teachers to oppose administrators and advocate for the needs of themselves and their students. Here is the Virginia Education Association’s fact sheet on continuing contracts and why they’re necessary for quality education.
6. SB 692, HB 248: Eliminates corporate income tax, effective 2014. This would exempt corporate entities from paying into the public funds that provide things like infrastructure, education for their workers, copyright protections, industrial subsidies, and, in the case of minimum-wage employers like Walmart, the public assistance that keeps their underpaid employees alive. As this report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission shows, Virginia depends on the revenue generated by corporate income tax, but already has a very low rate, and is conservative in which corporations are eligible to be taxed.
7. HB 1001: Calls the state police to publish an explicit agreement with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s policies regarding undocumented immigrants, and to “perform federal immigration law-enforcement functions in the Commonwealth after arrest of an alien.” Meaning, to adopt a policy of beginning the deportation process upon arrest, regardless of if the arrested party is guilty of a crime.
8. HB 1112: Eliminates the HPV vaccine requirement for girls entering public school. The driving motivation of this bill is the colloquial belief that protecting girls from Human Papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer, will cause them to become promiscuous. This has potentially wide-reaching public health implications, and is based on a misconception.
9. HB 1315: A Conscience Clause exempting employers from covering contraception, sterilization, and abortificant drugs in their employee insurance plan, for any reason. This bill operates in tandem with HB 1314, which requires insurance companies offering employee policies to offer policies that omit contraception coverage, so that employers may deny their employees that kind of reproductive care. This puts the personal, private medical decisions of employees- mostly women- in the hands of their employers.
10. Open space for any late-submitted travesties that may arise. Stay tuned!
“ Virginia Republicans who helped pass a law requiring women to get an ultrasound before an abortion found their political Facebook pages flooded this week with the kind of information normally reserved for the ob/gyn. ”
I figured some of my followers might be interested in more information from someone who was at the protest/rally this past Saturday, March 3rd, 2012. I was also at the silent protest at the Capitol on Monday, February 20th.
I posted (shaky, unedited) videos of the arrests and other police actions on my YouTube channel. I was not one of those who stayed on the Capitol steps, so I was not arrested, but I saw most of the arrests as they occurred. Here are two videos that are much prettier than mine.
I reblogged it earlier, but my friend, who was also at the protest, wrote an excellent account of the treatment of the arrestees on her own blog. You can read it here.
The local newspaper addressed the treatment of prisoners in an article today, but the one that appears on its website is different and has less detail than the one I read in the actual paper this morning. Nevertheless, it contains more information. The newspaper also posted a story on Saturday, the day of the protest.
I really like these photos; they are much better than any that I took.
I may edit this post later once I am not so busy, but we shall see.
Courtesy of user classy03-K64 in r/atheism:
This is long, but I really hope you will read it and seriously consider what I’m saying. As a woman who takes her birth control very seriously but [edit for “it” typo] is still cognizant of the fact that it might fail through no fault of my own, this is a very important issue for me.
There is a huge, huge difference between something that might affect you financially if the woman chooses to keep the baby and something that absolutely forces you to let another creature inhabit your body and leech off your oxygen and food and then force its way out of your genitals, possibly requiring them to be cut open and then sewn back up, or, if you’re not so lucky, it will simply be cut out of your stomach. There is no way that is at all comparable to maybe paying child support.
Did you miss the part where I explained why “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for X” is extremely flawed reasoning? What if your parents met because your dad was an EMT and your mom got in a car crash? Would you suddenly become in favor of car crashes because “I wouldn’t be here if not for a car crash”?
“Why would you want to force someone to go through a car crash?”
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a car crash, so I can’t support trying to eliminate car crashes.”
Yes, sometimes it’s our place to judge. It’s not your place to judge in this case because you have no idea why any given woman got pregnant. Maybe she got raped but is too afraid to report it and thus can’t get your legal exception. Maybe she’s never been educated about birth control and her boyfriend pressured her into sex. Maybe her boyfriend took off the condom in the dark. Maybe she has another child and if she has to take time off work for a pregnancy she’ll lose her job and not be able to support her existing kid. Maybe she just got a divorce because of abuse and cheating and then realized she’s pregnant with her ex-husband’s baby. Maybe she’s been married for twenty years and has four children and her husband is religious and against birth control and she just can’t handle another one. Maybe she used hormonal birth control perfectly responsibly and she was one of the few times it doesn’t work. Maybe the baby is going to have extreme health complications that will severely impact its quality of life, as well as hers. Maybe she forgot her pill one too many times, or left it in a glove compartment where it got so hot it stopped working and she didn’t know enough about chemistry to know that ahead of time. (Yes, a company once got out of a lawsuit for failed birth control because they proved the birth control in question was left out in a car at the Grand Canyon.) Maybe the condom broke. Maybe she and her boyfriend got drunk and forgot a condom. Maybe she’s being pimped out in the ghetto. Maybe she didn’t know you have to wait a week for the IUD to start working. Maybe her boyfriend lied about being sterile, or was just wrong about being sterile. Or maybe she’s just young and stupid, in which case why on earth do you want to make her responsible for a fetus’ well-being?
In the end, we know that the vast majority of abortions happen before there is even the slightest chance of the fetus resembling a unique person: in the first trimester. I could go off on a long medical explanation of why they are not conscious or able to feel pain until birth anyway, but for the sake of discussion let’s assume we’re talking about only the first trimester.
If a woman decides right away that she doesn’t want to go through a pregnancy, she will not have to cause suffering or pain to any conscious being in order to prevent doing so. No one will regret not getting to live. She will probably go on to have several other children when she is actually ready, and she may then say, as many do, that aborting the first pregnancy allowed her to have several others in the future. Her abortion will be like one of the countless natural abortions that occur in every fertile woman trying to get pregnant, wherein an embryo is created but fails to implant properly on the uterine wall and is discharged from the body like any other period.
You’re okay with abortion in cases of rape, although you probably think murder is worse than rape in general, so clearly you don’t think first-trimester abortion is murder. There is no reason to force someone to go through a pregnancy simply because they screwed up, when you also think that an abortion, in and of itself, is not automatically morally wrong. You want to have a rape exception because you think that if the woman didn’t get raped, the pregnancy is “her fault” and therefore she has to deal with it, even though this helps no one.
If abortion raises your ire because you don’t like people being careless with their birth control, then just say so. Then start working to bring better sex education to schools and more cheap birth control options to the country. There is no reason it should significantly impact your view on the legality of abortion, because in any given abortion you, again, have no idea what kind of birth control use or responsibility led to that particular pregnancy. If you don’t think flushing out an unconscious human jelly is inherently a terrible thing, seeing as it has no awareness it was ever alive and does not have enough brain stem to even feel pain, then it is not your place to come in and say that some women can have one and some women can’t just because you think some of them are good enough to deserve to make their own choices and some aren’t.
We’re both atheists, so we know there’s no such thing as destiny. There’s absolutely no reason to think that simply because you were conceived, you were meant to be born. If you still believe that, you should go spend some time looking at children with harlequin-type ichthyosis. The simple fact of your conception does not mean the world is going to be incomplete without you. Embryos die all the time and they do not regret it because they cannot. There are already more living children lacking homes than we can handle.
Banning abortion solves absolutely zero problems, and creates many new ones, not to mention being an extremely basic violation of my right to bodily autonomy and personal determination. What exactly were you hoping would be achieved by banning abortion?