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Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII

November Stakes - Abortion and Reproductive Rights

So why is the November 2023 Virginia General Assembly election vitally important ? 

These Virginia rights and issues are at immediate risk if the Republicans take over the General Assembly in November 2023:

  • Abortion

  • Voting rights

  • LGBTQ rights

  • Gun control

  • The clean energy economy

  • Many others

Let’s talk about abortion and reproductive rights today.

Do you remember when candidate for Governor Glenn Youngkin refused to state his position on abortion because (as he was caught on tape saying) he wanted to deceive the voting public so he could appear more moderate and hide his true abortion agenda ? 

Soon, we found out the truth about his position when he said he would sign any ban that comes across his desk.  Now, he states that he would sign a 15 week ban if the Republicans take over the General Assembly in November 2023. Should we believe him or is he playing us again with his suggestion of a “moderate” 15 weeks plan ?

There have been numerous abortion restrictions passed or proposed by Republicans across the US and in Virginia.  So why is Youngkin’s “moderate” and “commonsense” 15 week bill so dangerous and a lie and NOT moderate ?  

There are several major reasons:

  • The routine pregnancy medical tests that detect serious problems with a fetus often cannot be confirmed until closer to 20-24 weeks.  Thus, 15 weeks sets up unnecessary anguish, fear and uncertainty for the women, families and healthcare providers when those tests come back abnormal.  The current restriction of 27 weeks does not pose barriers to abortion in the case of a bad pregnancy outcome based on these tests.

  • The Republican normalization and incremental strategy:

  • Make it sound moderate and wait until everyone is used to it then go for more restrictive bills.  

    • Republicans typically introduce bills with 23, 20, 15, 6 0 week bans so 15 weeks sounds “reasonable” and appears to be “compromise”.

    • Example: Florida started with a 15 week ban and now has a total 6 week ban where most women do not even know they are pregnant in 6 weeks.

    • The same incremental strategy is what red states are using for anti-Trans legislation.  Start with banning trans medical care for kids (to “protect” the kids from science experiments, etc) then those states are now introducing bills that ban that medical care for adults as well.

  • Deliberately insert unclear exceptions to stoke fear and confusion in healthcare providers, patients and families.  When the doctor has to call the lawyer first before treating a very sick pregnant woman then something is wrong with the legislation.

  • Legislators then blame others when things go wrong - blame the healthcare providers that they did not correctly interpret “a clear set of exceptions”.

  • Add in ancillary restrictive legislation to the toxic mix:

    • Idaho's ban of travel outside the state to get an abortion for minors - labeled as "abortion trafficking" to make people think of "human trafficking".

      • Soon to include adults who go across state lines ?  This is the incrementalism strategy.  First, SAVE THE CHILDREN FROM TRAFFICKING ! then implement a ban for all ages.

    • Menstrual data warrants to criminalize women’s health and pregnancy

In the latest Virginia 2023 General Assembly session earlier this year, Republicans proposed abortion bills including total bans, bans after 15 weeks, 20 weeks and 24 weeks with a mish-mash of other restrictions and misinformation. 

A snapshot of the Republican bills are illustrated  below:

  • HB 1395 - Total ban with no exceptions and probably also bans IUDs and Plan B

  • HB 2278 - known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

  • Class 4 felony for health care providers

  • Has exceptions:

    • the physician determines, based upon best clinical judgment, that the continuation of the pregnancy will result in the death of the woman or substantially and irreversibly impair one or more of such woman's major bodily functions, not including psychological or emotional conditions, or

    • the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

  • No exception when the fetus will be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or with a gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency

  • Life begins at conception (setting up the basis for further restrictions)

  • Exceptions

    • Medical emergency to save the life of the mother

    • 20 weeks or less and the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and a police report of the offense has been filed and to be performed in a hospital

  • No exception when the fetus will be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or with a gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency

  • No apparent mention of allowing abortion after fetal demise.

  • Class 4 felony penalty for healthcare providers

  • SB 1385

    • Bans all abortions after 15 weeks except for:

      • Life of mother in a medical emergency or

      • Incest or rape

      • Abortion must be done in a hospital (no outpatient clinic abortions allowed).

      • OK to abort a dead fetus

    • No exception when the fetus will be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or with a gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency

  • HB 1865

    • Bans abortions based on disability and sex (this doesn’t really happen) - This bill  redefines the definition of “disability” and this definition is meant to conflate and confuse the more severe incapacitating deformity (that is incompatible with life or living and is a common exception in many abortion laws) with any old more minor disability so that the author can eliminate any abortion for related to severe deformity (including being born without a skull, without a portion of the brain, etc).

In contrast, look at the Democratic bills introduced in the 2023 General Assembly:

  • SB 852 - Search warrants; menstrual health data prohibited; definition.  Prohibits law enforcement from serving search warrants for any menstrual data.

  • SB 1243 - Abortion or other reproductive health care services; prohibitions on extradition for certain crimes.  This bill prohibits women who come to Virginia for reproductive care to be extradited back to a state where that same care is illegal in that state.

  • HB 1999 - Right to Contraception Act.

  • HB 2089 - Health insurance; coverage for prescription contraceptives.  Mandates coverage of prescription contraceptives or devices and prohibits co-payments, fees or co-insurance.

  • HJ 519 - Constitutional amendment (first reference); fundamental right to reproductive freedom.

So, you can see where Virginia is headed if the General Assembly is controlled by Republicans.  States like Florida are where Republicans want to take us but we have one weapon that can stop this authoritarian trend - the majority of Virginians do NOT want further restrictions on abortion and reproductive rights !

We MUST do everything we can to elect Democrats to the majority.  

###

Thus, it is vital to stand up and speak out in any way we can.  We need to Roar Like McMorrow !

Do something and anything to help us win both houses of the Virginia General Assembly and put a stop to MAGA and Youngkin:


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