The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 76/No. 10      March 12, 2012

Protests push back Virginia
anti-abortion legislation
(front page)
After a week of pro-choice protests and nationwide media attention, the Virginia state legislature scrapped bills that would have mandated invasive vaginal ultrasound procedures for many women seeking abortions. Protests are continuing against a watered-down version that would require women to undergo an external ultrasound.

The original bill was scuttled after Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who reportedly has his eye on the Republican vice presidential nomination, called for it to be changed. McDonnell said he got legal advice “that these kinds of mandatory, invasive requirements might run afoul of Fourth Amendment law.” The amendment asserts individuals’ right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizure.”

On Feb. 20 more than 1,000 people held a silent protest against the bill. “Lawmakers had to walk the 300 feet from their offices to the State House with hundreds of demonstrators linked arm-in-arm on both sides of the sidewalk,” said Sarah Okolita, one of the organizers, in a Feb. 26 phone interview.

There were other bills aimed at limiting a woman’s right to choose abortion, Okolita, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University, pointed out. “A ‘personhood’ bill declaring that a fetus is a person at conception was dropped by the legislature. But they may try to reintroduce it next year.

“The second is a bill to cut Medicaid funding for women who seek an abortion because the fetus is determined to have ‘birth anomalies,’” she said. “We are still organizing against this one.

“I was in touch with a number of others who were angered by recent attacks on abortion, including the decision by Komen for the Cure to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. They were inspired by the number of people who spoke out and forced them to reinstate funding,” Okolita said. “So when these bills were coming up for a vote, we decided to provide a way for people to come out.

“We are planning two protests this week, a ‘Take Back the Right’ candlelight vigil and another statewide action on March 3 to tell the legislators not to push these laws again next year.”

More than 100 people turned out for the Feb. 27 Take Back the Right action. Speak Loud With Silence, which organized the vigil, reported they were watched by “SWAT officers complete with an armored RV” and “over 30 officers carrying riot gear and riot shields.”
Related articles:
Women’s rights, freedom of religion and health care ‘reform’  
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