Tell The General Assembly – It’s About RESPECT!

The General Assembly is in full swing and Virginia NOW is busy lobbying on key bills. Make YOUR voice heard now. It is so important to write to your state delegates and senators, call their offices, visit them at their offices and attend events.

What suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt said in the early 1900s applies equally in Virginia today: “Roll up your sleeves, set your mind to making history, and wage such a fight for liberty that the whole world will respect our sex.” RESPECT is what the fight is about for the ERA and against the many proposed laws on access to abortion and reproductive health care. Click here to find out who represents you in Richmond.

On February 1, we will join the League of Women Voters of Virginia for a jam-packed lobby day that will include legislative briefings, committee hearings, and meeting with elected officials. The day starts with the Women’s Round Table from 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. in the General Assembly Building (9th and Broad Street, downtown Richmond), 7th Floor West Conference Room. We’ll join LWV-VA President Lynn Gordon for lunch at 11:30 a.m.- location to be announced. Please make your appointments with your senator and delegate before February 1. If you don’t make an appointment, you will most likely meet with one of the aides.

VA NOW’s special focus will be the Equal Rights Amendment resolution that has been introduced in the House of Delegates (HJ 115) and the Senate (SJ 130). We thank the initial patrons of the resolution: Delegates Scott Surovell, Kaye Kory, Ken Plum, Jim Scott, and Mark Sickles, and Senators George Barker, Barbara Favola and Toddy Puller. We expect more legislators who champion women’s issues to become patrons. To read the ERA resolution on the Virginia General Assembly website, please click here. To learn more about the February 1st lobby day, please contact VA NOW President Diana Ecozcue at dclj@comcast.net

Breast Cancer Density Testing Virginia NOW is working with breast cancer survivors who are advocating for supplementary screening for patients with dense breast tissue (if determined by a physician). The bipartisan bill – HB 3 in the House of Delegates and SB 544 in the state Senate -requires the Board of Health to establish guidelines requiring all mammogram reports to include information on breast density. Patrons are Robert Orrock (Republican) in the House and John Edwards (Democrat) in the Senate. This bill sounds reasonable – and life-saving – but there is opposition from certain medical groups. Please be sure to tell your Delegate and your Senator that you support this bill because it can save women’s lives.

Restricting Access to Reproductive HealthcareVirginia NOW opposes the following bills and budget cuts as harmful to women’s reproductive health:
HB 1 – So-called “Rights of unborn children,” could criminalize common forms of birth control and fertility treatments (such as IVF) and make abortion illegal in all cases. The “personhood” bill was Introduced by Delegate Robert Marshall, who is hostile to women’s reproductive healthcare. (FYI – He is running against former Senator George Allen for the Republican nomination for United States Senate.)
HB 62 – would ban Medicaid funding for abortion in cases of fetal abnormality. This bill – sponsored by Delegate Mark Cole – is cruel and punitive. It’s also unnecessary. Last year, 26 women applied for funds for an abortion for a fetus with abnormalities incompatible with life, of which 22 were granted at a cost of $13,000. Certainly Delegate Cole has better things to do with his time as a public servant.
HB 462 – “Informed consent about abortion,” would require all women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound (whether or not it is medically indicated or necessary) and – we quote from the bill – “require that the medical professional performing the ultrasound obtain written certification from the woman that the opportunity was offered and whether the woman availed herself of the opportunity to see the ultrasound image or hear the fetal heartbeat.” This coercive bill, introduced by Delegate Kathy Byron, is insulting to women and medical professionals and invades women’s privacy. The purpose is to further restrict access to abortion care.
Zeroing Out Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding!
In our view, successful programs that help teens prevent pregnancy should be supported. The McDonnell budget cuts all teen pregnancy prevention funding in the seven districts with programs, including Alexandria, where it has been highly successful. We think $440,000 for these programs – last year’s funding level – is a solid investment in the future of our youth. Tell your elected officials you want this funding restored.

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