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Don C. Reed

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Disenfranchise a Gender? Virginians Fight Back Against Anti-Woman "Personhood" Legislation

Posted: 02/23/2012 11:44 am

Women are increasingly realizing there may be no place for them in the formerly Grand Old Party, except as second class citizens, their rights defined by an increasingly narrow minority: Ancient White Males. Nothing wrong with being an AWM -- that pretty much describes me -- but the difference is (unlike Republicans) I do not think I have the right to make women's decisions for them.

Remember those ludicrous "personhood" laws that were so overwhelmingly dismissed by the voters of Colorado and Mississippi?

They're back: as bizarre, cruel, and anti-woman as ever -- only now they are being shoved through state legislatures without bothering to ask the voters' opinion.

Virginia's personhood bill, HB1 (Bob Marshall, R-Prince William), passed the GOP-dominated House on a party-line vote, and will shortly be heard in the Senate. If it passes the Courts of Justice committee, probably today, it will go to the Senate floor, where Democrats and Republicans are evenly matched. If Lt. Governor Bill Bolling breaks the expected tie vote, and sends HB1 to Gov. Bob McDonnell, that fast-rising Republican (on a short list for VP consideration) will have to decide if he wants to associate his name with a disaster.

Requiring a microscopic zygote to be treated like a grownup? "...the unborn child at every stage of development (has) all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons..." This makes about as much sense as giving driver's licenses to those same microscopic blastocysts!

The bill is just loaded with punishment for women, for the crime of being born female. Basically, women will just have to shut up and get pregnant. Birth control? Can't have that, might endanger an embryo. Abortion, at any stage, even for cases involving rape or incest? Illegal: Personhood allows no exceptions. Miscarriages? Potentially a crime to be investigated...

Democratic Virginia delegate Charnielle Herring put it plainly, calling the bill "an attack on women's health."

Other personhood aspects threaten men and women alike. Embryonic stem cell research to try and cure paralysis, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases? Criminalized. Stem cell lines are made from leftover microscopic blastocysts scheduled to be thrown away. Previously they could be donated to science, but no more; this Republican law would make stem cell research a crime.

Consider the potential ban of the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) procedure widely used to help childless families have a baby. There is cunning language inserted in the bill: "Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful (emphasis added) assisted conception."

Sounds good -- until we consider the loophole word "lawful" -- which will change.

The bill does not and cannot guarantee that IVF will be left alone -- because all 25,000 mentions of the word "person" in Virginia law must be re-interpreted -- and what is lawful today may be a felony after the enactment of HB1.

"...Personhood measures, like HB1, pose a serious threat to fertility treatments," said Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association. "Experts on reproductive medicine and law have reviewed (the bill's) language, and they tell us infertility patients will not be protected."

How do Virginians feel about this? Delegate Jennifer McClellan worked with Resolve and Virginia women like Vicki Humphreys, Marnee Beck, Whitney (last name not known) and Rebecca Flick to organize a press conference.

Here is a five-minute audio and a full color longer version.

Want to help? Here is a petition (from Progress Virginia) I signed; you might want to do the same. These people have no connection to my opinions; I just liked their petition, and am passing it on to friends.

Stop the War on Women

By Brian Devine (Contact)

To be delivered to: Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, The Virginia State Senate, and Governor Bob McDonnell

I'm writing to express my opposition to bills before the General Assembly that insert the government into women's private medical decisions. Please oppose HB 1, which would define a fertilized egg as a person and could outlaw abortion under all circumstances and restrict women's access to birth control, and HB 462, which will traumatize women by forcing some to submit to an invasive, transvaginal ultrasound before seeking an abortion.

I've had enough of this war on women and I'm asking you to get back to work on Virginians' priorities: investing in our economic growth, ensuring our kids get an excellent education, and repairing our crumbling transportation infrastructure. We sent you to Richmond to make life better for Virginia families, not make it more difficult for women to access comprehensive reproductive health services."

Rational Republicans dare not be silent now.

They must speak out against this unreasoning personification of zygotes -- before their party disenfranchises a gender.

 
 
 

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