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!
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.