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Results tagged “Women's Rights”

May 8, 2014

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The Virginian-Pilot reports, "Virginia jailers now have to follow state regulations governing the use of restraints on pregnant inmates. The Virginia Board of Corrections approved the regulations in November after more than a year of negotiations between inmate advocates and law enforcement officials. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed the regulations in March, and they take effect Thursday with the expiration of a final public comment period."

Progressive Point: Protecting the health of a female inmate and her pregnancy is more than just sound public health policy. Stopping unnecessary and inhumane shackling of pregnant women is a moral movement to restore dignity to women and to Virginia. Putting an end to the undue health risks to some of the most vulnerable citizens is a victory for our Commonwealth and conscience.

One of the truest measures of our Commonwealth is in how we treat our most vulnerable Virginians. The previous shackling of pregnant women in our care was both dangerous and inhumane. Excessive and unnecessary restraint during pregnancy increases the chances of accidentally tripping or falling, and harm. Today, Virginia has taken a step forward in protecting a pregnant inmate's dignity and health, and the health and safety of her pregnancy.

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  • The new regulations that go into effect today permit "pregnant prisoners to bee handcuffed only in front when being transported outside the jail. They cannot be restrained at all during labor and delivery. Exceptions can be made for inmates who are a danger or flight risk. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia advocated the regulations. Executive director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga says the state ACLU will work with jail officials to ensure compliance." (Virginian-Pilot, May 8, 2014)

  • Via Katherine Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women's Rights Project of the ACLU-VA:

  • Unrestrained movement is especially critical during labor, delivery, and the postpartum recovery. Women often need to move around during labor and recovery, including moving their legs as part of the birthing process, and restraining a pregnant woman can interfere with the medical staff's ability to appropriately assist in childbirth. Prisoners and detainees who are restrained face an increased potential for physical harm from an accidental trip or fall, which can be harmful to the health of the woman and her pregnancy.

  • The vast majority of female prisoners in Virginia are non-violent offenders who pose a low security risk, particularly during labor and postpartum recovery. There are no documented instances of women in labor or during delivery escaping or causing harm to themselves, security guards or medical staff.

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April 8, 2014

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The Huffington Post reports, "April 8 is Equal Pay Day, marking the number of extra days into 2014 the average woman has to work to earn as much as her male counterpart did in 2013... [F]or full-time, year-round workers, women are paid on average only 77 percent of what men are paid; for women of color, the gap is significantly wider. African American women on average earn only 64 cents and Latinas on average earn only 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men."

Progressive Point: Virginians believe in an economy that works for everyone equally--not more if you are wealthy and not less if you are a woman. In our communities across the Commonwealth, Virginia women are increasingly the breadwinners for their families. That means gender discrimination in pay isn't just costing businesses because their customers have less to spend--it's hurting families too.

Our Commonwealth's economy must keep up with reality. Outdated workplace policies hold back our businesses and families alike. Catching Virginia up starts with a simple principle: women should earn equal pay for equal work. We've all got a stake in ending gender discrimination in pay. We do better when everybody has a fair shot, when our economy works for all of us, and that means ending gender discrimination in pay.

Get the Facts:

  •  
    • Women working full time, year round earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. And it's even less for women of color.

    • Over the course of a 35 year career, a woman with a college degree will make an average of $1.2 million less than a man with the same level of education.

    • If women earned equal pay for equal work, our economy could grow, boosting GDP by 2.9 percent or $450 billion.

    • Women workers make up 64 percent of all minimum wage workers and are concentrated in lower wage jobs, where gender discrimination in pay persists. Over three-quarters of these
      female minimum wage workers are unmarried women.

    • In 2011, over 40 percent of all households with children under 18 were headed by women who were either the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, compared to just 11 percent in 1960. Of these "breadwinner moms," 37 percent were married women with higher earnings than their husbands and 63 percent were single mothers.

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September 10, 2013

ThinkProgress reports, "Even though the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States has remained relatively constant, they are becoming increasingly concentrated among low-income women, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. Between 1994 and 2006, the number of unintended pregnancies among women whose incomes fall below the national poverty line rose by 50 percent. At the same time, however, unintended pregnancies dropped among more economically privileged women."

Progressive Point: Conservative efforts to limit our access to reproductive health care put the economic future of low income women at risk. Ken Cuccinelli, E. W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshain are seeking to do just that through their continued support for extreme measures to ban forms of birth control, radical restrictions designed to shut down women's health centers, and extreme personhood legislation. Their efforts to end our reproductive rights would hurt Virginians without means and who need access to affordable health services the most to provide better economic security for their families.

The facts are clear that women's issues are economic issues. Cuccinelli, Jackson, and Obenshain's refuse to recognize the health and economic benefits low income Virginia women and families see from better access to birth control. Virginians have made clear that we don't support a right-wing agenda that interferes in anyone's health care decisions. Our Commonwealth needs leaders who understand protecting reproductive rights mean securing our families' economic futures - especially those families most at risk.

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Unintended-Pregnancy-f3-555x628.gif

  • Via Politico:
    • "'Protecting a woman's right to choose' trumped health care, guns, transportation, spending and college affordability. This held true in each of Virginia's three-biggest media markets."

    • Last year, as attorney general, Cuccinelli approved regulations that require abortion clinics to retrofit their facilities to meet standards for new hospital construction. In 2008, he proposed an amendment to end state funding for Planned Parenthood. In 2007, he cosponsored a personhood bill, which would have put into state law that life begins at conception. He has pushed a series of other bills that alarm groups like NARAL.


  • Despite voting in June to exempt existing health centers from these new regulations, the Virginia Board of Health bowed to pressure from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and reversed their decsision to grandfather in Virginia's 20 women's health clinics. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 3, 2013)

  • On video over the summer, Ken Cuccinelli compared his battle "to ban abortion rights to the battle to end slavery." (WJLA - VIDEO, March 19, 2013)

  • On Martin Luther King Day this year, Ken Cuccinelli compared "his fight against the federal requirement that birth control be offered with no copay by insurance plans to King's fight for equal rights for African Americans." (Talking Points Memo, Jan. 22, 2013)

  • "Cuccinelli suggested in a meeting of the Republican Attorney General Association that it would be difficult for the federal government to compel states to obey the ACA if they decided to ignore it as an act of civil disobedience. He cited state resistance to the Alien And Sedition Acts and the fugitive slave laws as a model." (Talking Points Memo, Mar. 27, 2013)

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September 6, 2013

Joseph A. Condo, family law attorney and former president of the Virginia State Bar, opines in the Fairfax Times, "[Ken] Cuccinelli's proposal to repeal no-fault divorce is a good example of what happens when public policy is based on ideology, ill-informed pseudo-social science, wishful thinking, or all of the above. Not only is its ostensible purpose of keeping married people together a fraud, but it would increase the emotional and financial cost on individuals seeking a divorce and, worst of all, place their children at risk of unnecessary additional trauma from the breakup of their parents' marriages. What's scary is that this legislation is also a perfect example of Cuccinelli's simplistic, ideology-driven and shortsighted philosophy of governing."

Progressive Point: Politicians have no place interfering in private family decisions. Ken Cuccinelli's extreme efforts to interfere in the intensely personal decisions of Virginia women goes even further than inserting himself in our doctor's offices and the bedrooms. Cuccinelli's pushed a law that would trap women in bad marriages and penalize some seeking divorce in custody and child support decisions.

Ken Cuccinelli's efforts to keep spouses in bad marriages would result in higher exposure to emotional damage to partners and their children, while increasing the risk that a bad marriage becomes dangerous. No matter what your ideology, government should never force anyone to stay in a harmful marriage. While Cuccinelli has made eliminating reproductive freedom the cornerstone of his political career, we should be no less frightened by his dangerous history of preventing women and their children from escaping threatening situations.

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  • In 2008, Ken Cuccinelli introduced legislation to prevent "no-fault" divorces for couples with minor children if one member of the marriage objects. Cuccinelli's bill "would have made it so a person initiating a no-fault divorce could have that fact used against them when determining custody of the couple's children." (Washington Post, September 4, 2013)

  • In August 2013, the Washington Post reported, "Cuccinelli also was the lone Senate vote against legislation to increase child support payments by tying them more closely to inflation. The 2006 measure passed 39-1, but stalled in the Virginia House of Delegates. Baskerville said the bill was an attempt to 'railroad through higher child support, though it already is at punitive levels.'" (Washington Post, August 28, 2013)

  • Via ProgressVA: Some of the extreme policies supported by Cuccinelli and a range of Lt. Governor and Attorney General candidates include:
    • "Personhood" legislation that would criminalize some forms of birth control

    • TRAP restrictions that impose medically unnecessary building requirements on women's health centers in an attempt to ban abortion by shutting down clinics

    • Invasive, transvaginal ultrasounds before a woman can obtain an abortion

    • Funding cuts to Planned Parenthood's cancer screenings and preventative health care services

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April 19, 2013

The Washington Post reports, "A group opposed to abortion announced Tuesday that it is launching the first radio ad of the Virginia governor's race. Women Speak Out Virginia, a political action committee affiliated with the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List, is funding a $50,000 ad buy targeting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe."

Progressive point: Ken Cuccinelli has made a career out of attacking women's health, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest. Now out-of-state extremists are swooping in to mislead Virginians about his record. The bottom line? Cuccinelli's anti-choice crusade is extreme and risky to women's health. 

Cuccinelli supports legislation that would criminalize some forms of birth control and even declared that people should "go to jail" to prevent women from having access to affordable contraception. He abused the power of his office to try to shut down women's health centers and has never missed an opportunity to limit women's access to affordable health care. Virginians know that medical decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, in consultation with her faith leader. No amount of right-wing money can whitewash that record.

 

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Marjorie Dannenfelser Is President Of SBA List - Supported Virginia's Mandatory Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill. When Chris Matthews questioned Dannenfelser about a bill in Virginia effectively requiring women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion, Dannenfelser stated, "Really, this is a matter of giving a woman more information that she needs to make a decision that`s fully informed. [...] The reason the majority of women in Virginia and across the country support this is that they believe in that vulnerable spot in a very difficult place, that more information is better. And making -- there are two decisions to make. One decision is a medical decision. One is about the very contentious, very difficult decision about what is actually happening in an abortion. And that ultrasound speaks to that. It`s science. It`s a scientific opinion backing up a medical reality. And a moral -" Dannenfelser was cut off before completing her sentence. [MSNBC, Hardball, 2/22/12]

 
SBA List Defended Todd Akin Following His "Legitimate Rape" Comments. According to the Washington Post, "Republican leadership has a not so-subtle-hint for Todd Akin: They would like the Missouri Senate candidate, who remarked that 'legitimate rape' rarely results in pregnancy, out of the race -- and sooner rather than later. [...] Pro-life groups, however, have taken a decidedly different take. Both the Susan B. Anthony List and Family Research Council have stood by Akin. They don't see him as a politician who has made a career ending gaffe. In their view, he's a strong abortion right opponent who articulated a tenet of the pro-life movement: Abortion should be illegal in all situations, rape included. 'Todd Akin ... has a record of voting to protect human life,' said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, reaffirming her support in a statement. He 'has been an excellent partner in the fight for the unborn.'" [Washington Post, 8/21/12]

 

Cuccinelli has been forthright about the true intent of these TRAP restrictions: to "make abortion disappear in America." [YouTube, 5/7/12]

 

Politically motivated restrictions ignored the medical advice of Board's own physician experts.

  • The Board of Health ignored the medical advice of physician-experts, choosing instead to promulgate regulations not based in evidence-based medicine. Several members of the physician advisory board subsequently denounced the regulations and requested their names be removed from the draft document. [Associated Press, 12/3/11] 

 

When the Board of Health finally heeded the advice of medical professionals and voted to grandfather existing facilities, Cuccinelli bullied the Board into rescinding their decision.

  • Cuccinelli refused to certify draft regulations that exempted existing facilities from expensive, burdensome, and medically unnecessary physical plant requirements that have only ever been applied to new construction. [Virginian Pilot, 9/13/12]
  • Cuccinelli "threatened Board of Health members that they could be denied state legal counsel and have to pay for their own defense if they again disregard his advice about relaxing controversial abortion clinic rules and litigation ensues." [Virginian Pilot, 9/13/12]
  • The Washington Post called the move "classic Cuccinelli: ideological activism masquerading as professional legal "advice." [Washington Post, 7/27/12]

 

Health Commissioner Karen Remley subsequently resigned her position over Cuccinelli's political meddling in the regulatory process.

  • In her resignation letter, Remley explained, "how specific sections of the Virginia Code pertaining to the development and enforcement of these regulations have been and continue to be interpreted has created an environment in which my ability to fulfill my duties is compromised and in good faith I can no longer serve in my role." [Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/10/13]

 

The politicized regulatory process has ignored guidelines issued by Governor McDonnell in a 2010 executive order.

  • Executive Order 14 requires agencies to assess less costly alternatives to regulations, including "the use of information disclosure requirements." [Executive Order 14, Office of the Governor] 
  • An economic impact analysis issues by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget finds the new restrictions will cost women's health centers between $200,000 and $5M in construction and renovation costs. However, the Department also found "no apparent method that both minimizes the adverse impact to small businesses (abortion facilities)" and provided no information disclosure alternative. [Economic Impact Analysis, Virginia Department of Planning and Budget]
  • The order also declares that regulations are to be based on "the best reasonably available reliable scientific, economic, and other information." [Executive Order 14, Office of the Governor]
  • As noted above, the Board ignored the medical advice they solicited from a panel of physician experts. [Associated Press, 12/3/11]



Efforts to limit women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion, are overwhelmingly opposed by Virginians.

 

Cuccinelli's career-long crusade to limit women's access to health services, including his meddling in this regulatory process, has earned him campaign checks and endorsements from an array of right-wing extremists.

  • Citing his long record in favor of limiting reproductive rights, the anti-women's health Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Cuccinelli's campaign for governor and pledged $1.5M to the effort. [Politico,  2/28/13] 
  • The Family Research Council, a Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group, endorsed Cuccinelli's campaign for governor. [Family Research Council, 3/29/13]

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Violence Against Women Act

It's incredible that any politician would champion the rights of violent criminals at the expense of women and children's safety. But many conservatives in Congress, under Eric Cantor's leadership, voted yesterday to oppose renewing protections for abused women and children. Meanwhile, they're fighting for the power of criminals, rapists, and stalkers to get guns. Stronger gun laws help keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. The Violence Against Women Act revolutionized the way we prosecute violent criminals. House conservatives refuse to support both.

The new bipartisan Violence Against Women Act bill resolves the procedural complaint House conservatives used as an excuse to force this landmark law to expire -- but it didn't resolve their opposition to extending the law's protections to more women. A woman's chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he's got a gun. Our laws should protect all women and children from violence and keep violent criminals from getting guns, and the new Violence Against Women Act does just that.

March 1, 2013

The Washington Post reports, "The Republican-controlled House on Thursday approved an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act that includes new protections for gay men and lesbians, part of an effort by GOP leaders to improve their image among women after last year's poor election results... [House Majority Leader Eric]  Cantor, who had led the GOP's effort on the issue, voted against it. Minority Democrats let out a cheer on the House floor as the Cantor bill fell -- and again when the Senate measure was approved. Many who had pushed the legislation for months declared victory."

Progressive Point: It's incredible that any politician would champion the rights of violent criminals at the expense of women and children's safety. But many conservatives in Congress, under Eric Cantor's leadership, voted yesterday to oppose renewing protections for abused women and children. Meanwhile, they're fighting for the power of criminals, rapists, and stalkers to get guns. Stronger gun laws help keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. The Violence Against Women Act revolutionized the way we prosecute violent criminals. House conservatives refuse to support both.

The new bipartisan Violence Against Women Act bill resolves the procedural complaint House conservatives used as an excuse to force this landmark law to expire -- but it didn't resolve their opposition to extending the law's protections to more women. A woman's chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he's got a gun. Our laws should protect all women and children from violence and keep violent criminals from getting guns, and the new Violence Against Women Act does just that.

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  • Only 1 of Virginia's 8 Republican Congressmen voted for the Violence Against Women Act. All 3 Democratic Virginia Congress voted in favor, resulting in just 4 out of Virginia's 11 Congressmen voting favorably. (Clerk.House.gov)

  • Via Message Matters:
    • Women are nearly 6 times more likely to be shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers.

    • A woman's chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun.

    • Women in states with higher gun ownership rates are almost 5 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in states with lower gun ownership rates.

    • Domestic violence has dropped by more than half since the Violence Against Women Act became law in 1994. With more victims coming forward, reports of abuse have also increased by 50%.

    • The new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate resolves the "blue slip" excuse House Republicans used as cover to oppose the bill last year, by removing an immigration-related provision that Senate Democrats are planning to enact later as part of immigration reform.

    • There is not a single House Republican who has signed onto the House version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill in the 113th Congress.

    • Women bear the brunt of domestic and sexual violence:
      • In the U.S., 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year.

      • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.

      • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBTQ) victims experience domestic violence in 25% to 35% of relationships -- about the same rate as in the general population.

      • American Indians are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault crimes compared to all other races, and one in three Indian women reports having been raped during her lifetime.


    • Many Senate and House Republicans both tried to exclude immigrant, Native American, and gay and lesbian victims from the Act's full protections last year.

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January 10, 2013

The Virginian-Pilot reports, "The General Assembly's opening Wednesday served notice that 2013 may offer a repeat of last year's high-profile fights on abortion rights that are still fresh in the memories of legislature observers. Several Republicans have filed bills to curb abortions in some circumstances by ending state support for the procedures for poor women who are going to have a deformed baby, making it criminal for doctors to perform abortions based on gender, and limiting coverage of contraception."

Progressive Point: Conservative politicians have paid lip service to dropping their attacks on women's health but their actions tell a different story. Far from getting back to work for Virginia families, conservatives have instead expanded their agenda to include not only limiting access to safe and legal abortion, but also preventing women from accessing basic reproductive health services. On their agenda? Limiting access to contraception, making it harder for low-income women to access reproductive health care, and flat-out abortion bans.

Virginians have made clear that we don't support this extreme, right-wing agenda. It's time for our leaders to get back to work and focus on expanding health care access and opportunity instead of denying women their constitutionally-protected rights.

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  • Harmful legislation being pushed by conservatives this year includes a bill put forward by Del. Bob Marshall "to criminalize sex-selective abortions and to free businesses from providing contraceptive coverage" and another from Sen. Tom Garrett "which would eliminate state support for poor women to have an abortion when a doctor concludes the fetus would be born with an incapacitating disability." (Virginian-Pilot, January 9, 2013)

  • Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) legislation, recently signed by Gov. McDonnell, singles out women's health centers that provide abortions and forces them to comply with hospital standards. No other outpatient clinic in Virginia, including those performing oral and cosmetic surgery, are forced to adhere to these standards. The underlying purpose is to force clinic closure by requiring unaffordable construction. (Washington Post, July 27, 2012)

  • The Reproductive Rights Caucus is supporting legislation to repeal the TRAP law, "bills to repeal the mandatory ultrasound law, legislation to protect birth control and ensure it isn't defined as abortion, proposals to give civil immunity to doctors who don't perform preabortion ultrasounds, and to allow women to opt out of an ultrasound."(Virginian-Pilot, January 9, 2013)

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January 3, 2013

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "Gov. Bob McDonnell has certified health regulations that impose strict hospital construction standards on Virginia abortion clinics -- triggering the next step in a multitiered approval process that could make the revised rules permanent by this summer. Unlike the public relations ballyhoo that accompanies many executive actions, McDonnell, an anti-abortion Republican, certified the regulations and had them posted to the Virginia Town Hall website without a public announcement on the Friday between the Christmas and New Year's holidays."

Progressive Point: Politicians have no place interfering in women's private health care decisions. These targeted regulations of abortion providers will likely shut down women's health clinics, an outrageous interference in decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor, her family, and her faith.

These regulations are designed to restrict women's access to health care and safe access to abortions. Respected medical professionals have been clear that these regulations have nothing to do with patient safety. It's outrageous that any Virginia leader would put their political agendas before our families' health. But in less than three weeks from the upcoming 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Bob McDonnell has done just that.

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  • This legislation, signed by Gov. McDonnell, singles out women's health centers that provide abortions and forces them to comply with hospital standards. No other outpatient clinic in Virginia, including those performing oral and cosmetic surgery, are forced to adhere to these standards. The underlying purpose is to force clinic closure by requiring unaffordable construction. (Washington Post, July 27, 2012)

  • Despite voting in June to exempt existing health centers from these new regulations, the Virginia Board of Health bowed to pressure from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and reversed their decsision to grandfather in Virginia's 20 women's health clinics. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 3, 2013)

  • In addition to family planning services, Virginia's women's health clinics provide life-saving cancer screenings and health care services like STD screenings. (ProgressVA, June 14, 2012)

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Cuccinelli's me first agenda

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October 26, 2012

The Virginian-Pilot editorializes, "Political power often tempts elected officials to overreach, but rarely does the abuse of authority cause the kind of injury Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's has inflicted on the state Board of Health. The board is by law independent. It is authorized to draft regulations. Last month, however, it caved to Cuccinelli's demands to reverse a decision that would have exempted existing abortion clinics from a 2011 law that requires such facilities to meet hospital construction requirements. The board's reversal will likely require most of the 20 clinics across the commonwealth to undertake expensive renovations to comply with new architectural standards or to be shut down. That is the real goal of Cuccinelli and the anti-abortion activists behind the law."

Progressive Point: Our Attorney General should be protecting our families, enforcing the law, and advocating for consumers. But Ken Cuccinelli has prioritized his own political career over Virginia families. He's abused his power as Attorney General and misinterpreted the law to further his crusade against women's reproductive freedom, climate science, equal workplace protections, and much more.

There's a reason Virginia has a tradition of Attorneys General resigning to run for Governor: using the office to wage a political campaign is unethical and a waste of taxpayer resources. Virginians, not his political career, should be Cuccinelli's first priority.

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  • Dr. Karen Remley, former health commissioner, told Governor McDonnell "she could not 'in good faith' run the Health Department and carry out new regulations--mandated by the legislature, approved by McDonnell and muscled into place by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli--that compel the state's 20 abortion clinics to comport themselves as hospitals." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 21, 2012)

  • The 2011 legislation, signed by Gov. McDonnell, singles out women's health centers that provide abortions and forces them to comply with hospital standards. No other outpatient clinic in Virginia, including those performing oral and cosmetic surgery, are forced to adhere to these standards. The underlying purpose is to force clinic closure through requiring unaffordable construction. (Washington Post, July 27, 2012)

  • In addition to family planning services, Virginia's women's health clinics provide life-saving cancer screenings and health care services like STD screenings. (ProgressVA, June 14, 2012)

  • Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Bob McDonnell's party platform "salutes" Virginia's new anti-abortion legislation that originally required women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe if they sought to pursue their constitutionally protected right to choose. (Washington Post, August 21, 2012)

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Medicine should trump politics

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October 22, 2012

Jeff Schapiro editorializes in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Karen Remley's resignation as health commissioner in a perceived protest over Virginia's crackdown on abortion clinics means there's one less woman in Gov. Bob McDonnell's binder. Her departure this past week could not have come at a worse time for McDonnell: the final stage of a bitter struggle, in which the guy Mitt Romney passed over for VP is frequently front and center, to prevent a Barack Obama repeat in Virginia that could decide the presidency. Remley's resignation is the latest Richmond-specific data point in a string of them since winter that further perfects the record of GOP hostility for abortion rights, putting Republicans at a further disadvantage with those Virginians whose votes, according to public polls, count the most this year: women, in particular, those in the suburbs."

Progressive Point: Politicians should never interfere in the private health care decisions that should be between a woman, her family, and her faith. It's deplorable that Attorney General Cuccinelli and Governor McDonnell are attacking women's health, restricting access to health clinics, threatening to criminalize some forms of birth control and trying to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds. Now they have compromised the ability of dedicated Virginia public servants to promote the health of all Virginians.

It's never been clearer that McDonnell and Cuccinelli's regulations are designed to limit access to safe and legal abortion in the Commonwealth. We need leaders who share our values, who will focus on the issues important to us, and who put our needs above these divisive and harmful political agendas. Cuccinelli and McDonnell should be ashamed of what their right-wing agenda and bullying of the Board of Health has cost Virginia.

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  • Karen Remley, now former health commissioner, told Governor McDonnell "she could not 'in good faith' run the Health Department, carrying out new regulations -- mandated by the legislature, approved by McDonnell and muscled by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli -- that compel the state's 20 abortion clinics to comport themselves as hospitals." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 21, 2012)

  • The recent legislation, signed by Gov. McDonnell, singles out women's health centers that provide abortions and forces them to comply with hospital standards. No other outpatient clinic in Virginia, including those performing oral and cosmetic surgery, are forced to adhere to these standards. The underlying purpose is to force clinic closure through requiring unaffordable construction. (Washington Post, July 27, 2012)

  • In addition to family planning services, Virginia's women's health clinics provide life-saving cancer screenings and health care services like STD screenings. (ProgressVA, June 14, 2012)

  • Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Bob McDonnell's party platform "salutes" Virginia's new anti-abortion legislation that originally required women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe if they sought to pursue their constitutionally protected right to choose. (Washington Post, August 21, 2012)

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October 18, 2012

The Washington Post reports, "George Allen held no public events Wednesday, instead hunkering down to prepare for his fifth Senate debate against Timothy M. Kaine and their final one before Election Day. Kaine (D) stuck to plans to tour a Colonial Heights hummus plant that he had helped draw to the state as governor but also squeezed in time for debate practice. The two former governors, vying for the seat held by retiring Sen. James Webb (D), will meet for an hour-long debate starting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg."

Progressive Point: Women's issues are economic issues and family issues. Like Mitt Romney, George Allen is hiding his record because he doesn't want to reveal his true priorities to Virginia families. Allen has refused to stand up for equal pay for equal work or condem legislation that puts politicians, not women and their doctors, in charge of health decisions.  Allen even supports federal personhood legislation that would criminalize some forms of birth control.

Women want the peace of mind of knowing they and their families will be able to get the health care they need. Twenty million women with private insurance have already taken advantage of the health care reform law's prevention benefits, including access to mammograms, contraception, and health check-ups without extra cost. But George Allen wants to repeal these common sense protections and put insurance companies back in control of your health care. If George Allen won't stand up for women while he's running for office, how can we ever expect him to do so in the Senate?

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Get the Facts:

  • At the previous debate last week, when asked about transvaginal ultrasound and personhood legislation George Allen refused to answer the question and "punted and pivoted." (Politico, October 8, 2012)

  • Allen Maintained Silence On Lilly Ledbetter Act. Reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch in April 2012, "Democrats leapt at the soft endorsement, asking where Allen stood on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that helps women hold accountable employers who discriminate in the pay practices based on gender. . . . 'Allen should explain why he finds it easier to endorse Mitt Romney than he does standing up for the basic concept that women should receive equal pay for equal work,' said Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond." [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/17/12 ]

  • Three Times, Allen Voted Against The Family And Medical Leave Act. As a Congressman, Allen voted three times against the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or sick relative." [AP, 11/2/2000; HR 2, Vote 393, 11/13/1991 ; S5, Vote 390,9/10/1992 ; S5, Vote 443, 9/30/1992 ]

  • Allen: "[I] Support Legislation Declaring The Personhood Of Every Individual Life."[Allen website, "Virginia Values for Washington," accessed 7/1/11 ]

  • After Personhood Legislation Passed VA House, Allen Campaign Said He Supported It. In February 2012, after personhood legislation passed in the Virginia House of Delegates, theTimes-Dispatch reported: " 'Does George Allen support the 'personhood' measure in the Virginia House of Delegates that is sponsored by his challenger, Delegate Bob Marshall?' Kaine's campaign asked in a press release. Later in the afternoon, Allen's campaign offered a simple answer: Yes. 'This measure is about protecting innocent unborn life. If a criminal hits a pregnant mother injuring or killing the unborn child, then there would be a cause of action for that child as well,' elaborated Allen spokeswoman Katie Wright. 'Democrats are desperately trying to make this a battle over contraceptives. As George Allen has often said he is opposed to the government prohibiting or banning contraceptives - and this bill doesn't do that,' she added." [Virginia Politics blog, Times-Dispatch, 2/14/12 ]

  • Allen Supported The Blunt Amendment. In February 2012, after the Blunt amendment failed to pass in the Senate, George Allen announced his support for the amendment. Allen's spokesperson said, "While George Allen does not support banning contraceptives, Americans in this instance should not be forced to choose between following a government mandate or adhering to their own deeply held religious beliefs. The fact that we are even having this discussion shows the serious problems Obamacare imposes on Virginia families and small businesses, and it's another reason Tim Kaine should listen to the people of Virginia who want to see it repealed and replaced." The Washington Post described that the amendment, "would have rolled back the Obama administration's health coverage rule by allowing insurance companies and employers to opt out of covering prescriptions, such as contraceptions, or procedures they object to on religious or moral grounds." [Virginia Politics, Washington Post, 3/1/12 ]

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Women's issues are economic issues

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October 9, 2012

Politico reports, "Republican George Allen is well aware he needs to close the gender gap with women in order to win the Virginia Senate race. The severity of that challenge was on full display Monday night in his fourth debate with Democrat Tim Kaine. When asked about proposals in the GOP-led General Assembly's this year to require an ultrasound before women could get an abortion and to codify that life begins at conception -- so-called 'personhood' legislation -- Allen punted and pivoted."

Progressive Point: Women's issues are economic issues. George Allen's failure to support equal pay for equal work and his opposition to universal contraception coverage shows he just doesn't get it.

Thanks to Obamacare, when a woman or her child gets sick, she won't have to panic about how to pay the bill. But George Allen wants to repeal these common sense protections and even supports a federal personhood amendment that would criminalize some forms of birth control. Tim Kaine was right when he said, "You can't empower women in the economy if you take away their choices."

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Get the Facts: Via the DSCC:

  • Allen Maintained Silence On Lilly Ledbetter Act. Reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch in April 2012, "Democrats leapt at the soft endorsement, asking where Allen stood on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that helps women hold accountable employers who discriminate in the pay practices based on gender. . . . 'Allen should explain why he finds it easier to endorse Mitt Romney than he does standing up for the basic concept that women should receive equal pay for equal work,' said Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond." [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/17/12 ]

  • Three Times, Allen Voted Against The Family And Medical Leave Act. As a Congressman, Allen voted three times against the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or sick relative." [AP, 11/2/2000; HR 2, Vote 393, 11/13/1991 ; S5, Vote 390, 9/10/1992 ; S5, Vote 443, 9/30/1992 ]

  • Allen: "[I] Support Legislation Declaring The Personhood Of Every Individual Life."[Allen website, "Virginia Values for Washington," accessed 7/1/11 ]

  • After Personhood Legislation Passed VA House, Allen Campaign Said He Supported It. In February 2012, after personhood legislation passed in the Virginia House of Delegates, theTimes-Dispatch reported: " 'Does George Allen support the 'personhood' measure in the Virginia House of Delegates that is sponsored by his challenger, Delegate Bob Marshall?' Kaine's campaign asked in a press release. Later in the afternoon, Allen's campaign offered a simple answer: Yes. 'This measure is about protecting innocent unborn life. If a criminal hits a pregnant mother injuring or killing the unborn child, then there would be a cause of action for that child as well,' elaborated Allen spokeswoman Katie Wright. 'Democrats are desperately trying to make this a battle over contraceptives. As George Allen has often said he is opposed to the government prohibiting or banning contraceptives - and this bill doesn't do that,' she added." [Virginia Politics blog, Times-Dispatch, 2/14/12 ]

  • Allen Supported The Blunt Amendment. In February 2012, after the Blunt amendment failed to pass in the Senate, George Allen announced his support for the amendment. Allen's spokesperson said, "While George Allen does not support banning contraceptives, Americans in this instance should not be forced to choose between following a government mandate or adhering to their own deeply held religious beliefs. The fact that we are even having this discussion shows the serious problems Obamacare imposes on Virginia families and small businesses, and it's another reason Tim Kaine should listen to the people of Virginia who want to see it repealed and replaced." The Washington Post described that the amendment, "would have rolled back the Obama administration's health coverage rule by allowing insurance companies and employers to opt out of covering prescriptions, such as contraceptions, or procedures they object to on religious or moral grounds." [Virginia Politics, Washington Post, 3/1/12 ]

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October 5, 2012

The Virginian-Pilot reports, "Del. Bob Marshall wants to free businesses from providing contraception coverage, a move that could limit access to the drugs through employer-backed health plans. Legislation that the Prince William County Republican has filed for the 2013 General Assembly session seeks to undermine a requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employers provide such coverage. In effect, Marshall's HB1314 and 1315 would give employers the option not to cover birth control pills, sterilization procedures or the morning-after pill."

Progressive Point: From personhood to vaginal probes to limiting contraception access, Virginia Republicans just can't seem to stop substituting their judgment for that of a woman and her doctor. Family planning decisions should be made by families. Politicians have no business inserting themselves into parents' decisions about when and how many kids to have.

Under President Obama's policy, women will get access to free birth control no matter where they work and no religious organization will be required to pay for it. Yet conservative politicians like Bob Marshall are actually proposing that any corporation should be able to deny any health service, whether contraception or any other basic care, to anyone who works for them for any reason. We can respect both religious liberty and women's health OR start letting corporations prevent parents from deciding when and how many kids to have.

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Get the Facts:

  • Bob Marshall's HB1315 would prohibit private insurers from offering policies that provide coverage for contraception unless it's specifically requested by the enrollee. (Virginian-Pilot, October 5, 2012)

  • 99% of women use contraception at some time in their lives (Guttmacher Institute, July, 2012)

  • More than half of women between 18 and 34 years old have struggled to afford contraception (Planned Parenthood, October, 12, 2010)

  • Studies show that more than half of women taking oral contraceptives are using them to treat other health issues rather than prevent pregnancy (Guttmacher Institute, November 15, 2011)

  • 61% of Americans support federally-mandated contraception coverage (CBS News, February 14, 2012)

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September 20, 2012

The Washington Post reports, "In a presidential campaign where women's issues have taken a more prominent role than many expected, the crucial swing state of Virginia is becoming the Grand Canyon of gender gaps. A new Washington Post survey indicates that President Obama holds a 19-percentage-point lead (58 to 39 percent) among female likely voters in the commonwealth yet is running six points behind Republican nominee Mitt Romney among men who are likely to vote (50 to 44 percent). That support from women is the reason the president now holds an eight-point advantage overall in Virginia."

Progressive Point: Politicians have no place interfering in decisions that should be between a woman, her doctor, and her faith. Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli have been focused on attacking women's health, restricting access to health clinics, threatening to criminalize some forms of birth control and trying to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds. Women have been clear in opposing these attempts to trample on our rights, but now Mitt Romney is supporting this same agenda.

The Romney-Ryan platform would turn back the clock on women's rights and restrict our ability to make decisions about our own bodies. Instead of attacking our constitutionally protected rights, our leaders should be focusing on building the middle class and our economic recovery.

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Get the Facts:

  • The Washington Post's recent poll shows "Obama leads Romney by 22 points on women's issues -- his single biggest advantage in the 10 issues tested... Nearly six in 10 women say social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, will also be a factor." (Washington Post, September 20, 2012)

  • The recent legislation, signed by Gov. McDonnell, singles out women's health centers that provide abortions and forces them to comply with hospital standards. No other outpatient clinic in Virginia, including those performing oral and cosmetic surgery, are forced to adhere to these standards. The underlying purpose is to force clinic closure through requiring unaffordable construction. (Washington Post, July 27, 2012)

  • In addition to family planning services, Virginia's women's health clinics provide life-saving cancer screenings and health care services like STD screenings. (ProgressVA, June 14, 2012)

  • Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Bob McDonnell's party platform "salutes" Virginia's new anti-abortion legislation that originally required women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe if they sought to pursue their constitutionally protected right to choose. (Washington Post, August 21, 2012)

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How Virginia is Shutting Down Women's Clinics from Kontra on Vimeo.

A vignette of what happened inside and outside the September 14th Virginia Board of Health meeting as they were directed by Ken Cuccinelli to rule that new, unnecessary regulations could be used to shut down existing abortion facilities.

 

Board voted 13-2 to prioritize political agendas over evidence-based medicine after shutting the doors on hundreds who wished to attend meeting 

Richmond, VA - ProgressVA today strongly condemned the decision by the Virginia Board of Health to prioritize politics over evidence-based medicine and bow to bullying from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by removing the "grandfather clause" from proposed clinic regulations. Even though hundreds of citizens told the Board they wished to attend the meeting and the ACLU of Virginia requested the Board accommodate all those who wished to submit public comment and witness the debate, the Board limited attendance in the meeting to 100 and cut public comment to only 1 hour. In response, ProgressVA and the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health held a public hearing in the parking lot for those who were shut out to make their voices heard.

"We absolutely condemn this outrageous decision by the Board of Health to prioritize politician's political agendas over evidence-based medicine and women's health," said ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl. "This Board should be ashamed that they have ignored and shut out the voices of Virginians and the advice of countless medical and legal professionals. It is simply disgraceful that the Board would bow to right-wing bullying and shut down women's access to comprehensive reproductive care and safe and legal abortion in order to cater to a politician who has proven time and again that he will twist the law to suit his own agenda."

Since the Board's initial vote to approve the grandfather amendment, Governor McDonnell successfully attempted to stack the Board with anti-choice ideologues, appointing right-wing zealot Dr. John Seeds. ProgressVA, together with the Coalition to Protect Women's Health, yesterday delivered 17,342 petitions to the Board of Health, requesting they stand up to Cuccinelli's bullying tactics and preserve women's health access.

Previously:

 

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ProgressVA is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization that seeks to engage citizens from across the Commonwealth around issues of immediate state and local concern. www.ProgressVA.org

 

For Immediate Release
September 14, 2012
Contact: Anna Scholl (540) 460-1269 anna@progressva.org

Board of Health Shuts Down Public Comment, Women's Health Advocates to Hold Alternative Hearing in the Parking Lot

Richmond, VA - Hundreds of women's health advocates showed up to the Board of Health meeting this morning, only to be turned away at the door. Despite pleas from the ACLU of Virginia and the public for the Board to make accommodations for the hundreds who RSVP'd to attend the meeting, the Board instead chose to shut down public participation. Women's health advocates refuse to be silenced and will instead hold an alternative hearing in the parking lot at 12:30.

"The Board of Health's own mission statement declares that their customers are the people of Virginia, not the Attorney General or Governor. If that's really true, they should come out to hear what we have to say outside," said Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA

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ProgressVA is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization devoted to engaging citizens from across the Commonwealth around issues of immediate state and local concern. www.ProgressVA.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2012
Contact: Anna Scholl, ProgressVA
anna@progressva.org, (434) 218-2113
Contact: Caty Borum Chattoo, Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health
caty.chattoo@gmail.com (301) 927-4752

Women's Health Advocates Deliver Over 17,000 Petitions Opposing Clinic Regulations to the State Board of Health

Thousands of Virginians have taken action to urge regulators to rely on evidence-based medicine, preserve access to safe and legal abortion

Richmond, VA - Women's health advocates delivered over 17,324 petitions and comments to the Virginia Board of Health Thursday, opposing proposed regulations that could shut down women's health centers and endanger access to safe and legal abortion in the Commonwealth. Virginians from across the state have took action to express outrage over new, burdensome regulations that prioritize ideological agendas over evidence-based medicine. In July, the Board voted to amend the proposed regulations, the most repressive in the nation, to "grandfather in" existing clinics from draconian building regulations unrelated to patient safety. That amendment would allow clinics to remain open and continue to provide thousands of Virginia women life-saving cancer screenings, STD testing, family planning services, and safe, legal first trimester abortions. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is misrepresenting the law and misguiding the Board of Health in an attempt to bully them into shutting down clinics against their will. By threatening to refuse to "certify" the Board's authority, the Attorney General has forced the Board to reconsider legally sound and medically correct regulations in order to advance a political agenda.

"Political agendas have no place in the doctor's office or governing decisions that should rely solely on evidence-based medicine," said ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl. "The Board's mission statement declares they are the 'primary advocate and representative of the citizens of the Commonwealth', not agents of politicians' political agendas. Virginians have made their voices clear: base the regulations on evidence-based medicine. We hope the Board chooses to represent the will of the public and votes to uphold the grandfather amendment."

"Virginians are tired of politicizing women's health. That's why so many citizens are demanding that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli stop playing with women's health and lives," said Tarina Keene, chairwoman of the Coalition to Protect Women's Health. "The Attorney General is attempting to intimidate the Board of Health into changing its vote to grandfather in existing abortion providers from burdensome construction requirements that are clearly intended to close their doors. The Board of Health is comprised of expert medical professionals and citizens who did not take their appointments to fulfill a political agenda. We can all agree with the Board's mission and we urge them to uphold it - ensure women's health, safety and access to care. We hope they will not succumb to the AG's bullying."

Background:

FACT: The Attorney General's office does not have "veto power" over the Board of Health's decisions.

  • Virginia law does not give the Attorney General's office veto power over the Board's policy decisions about what to include in the final rules. By threatening to refuse to "certify" the Board's authority, the Attorney General has claimed veto power over the Board's policy decisions.
  • As an elected official without medical expertise, a Virginia Attorney General and his/her office does not have the legal authority to decide upon the specifics of public health and medical regulations.
  • In this scenario, the Attorney General only has the responsibility to "certify" on the public record whether the Board has the authority to adopt rules under consideration.

FACT: Abortion is already regulated in Virginia by the Virginia Board of Medicine.

  • All Virginia doctors who provide abortion in Virginia are regulated by the Virginia Board of Medicine (see "Laws Governing Medicine"). Virginia doctors who provide abortion must meet the same medical standards as similar outpatient procedures performed in the state, including some dental procedures, colonoscopies, laser eye surgeries and some cosmetic procedures.

FACT: Abortion is considered one of the safest outpatient medical procedures in the U.S.

  • Nationally, abortion is one of the safest outpatient medical procedures performed in the U.S. today. "Fewer than 0.3% patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization" (Guttmacher Institute Fact Sheet, 2011).

FACT: A panel of Virginia doctors was asked to participate in drafting the proposed regulations. Several of these physicians, including Dr. James Ferguson (chair of the OB/GYN Dept. at UVa's School of Medicine) have since publicly denounced the regulations as not medically appropriate.

FACT: The 2010 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities manual only applies to new facilities, not existing ones.

  • At the heart of the proposed regulations of first-trimester abortion in Virginia is the 2010 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities. This manual provides guidance fornew hospitals to meet particular building requirements, such as size of hallways and particular ventilation systems. This manual does not apply to existing health care facilities.
  • The McDonnell administration's draft permanent regulations of women's health care centers in Virginia that provide first-trimester abortion attempted to apply these guidelines to existing women's health care centers, not just new ones. The Board of Health, under Virginia law, has never applied the guidelines in this way - in each and every past instance, the Board has applied the guidelinesonly to new buildings.

###

ProgressVA is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization that seeks to engage citizens from across the Commonwealth around issues of immediate state and local concern.www.ProgressVA.org

The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health formed in 2011 as a response to the attack on women's health and safety prompted by Senate Bill 924. The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health strives to protect and ensure access for all women in all regions of Virginia to safe first-trimester abortion and comprehensive reproductive health care services. The Coalition is committed to ensuring any regulations are based solely on medical and public health considerations. The Coalition is opposed to excessive, burdensome or unneeded regulations that undermine patient access to medical care for political or ideological purposes.

September 7, 2012

The Virginian-Pilot reports, "Activists on both sides of the abortion issue are rallying their troops for a Virginia Board of Health meeting next week. The board will meet Sept. 14 for another vote on abortion clinic regulations. The board approved the regulations in June, but Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify them... Abortion-rights supporters who cheered the revision are vowing to pack the meeting room again to encourage the board to reject Cuccinelli's position."

Progressive Point: Politicians have no place interfering in decisions that should be between a woman, her doctor, and her faith. Virginia women have a constitutionally protected right to control our own private medical decisions, but Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is doing his best to end choice in the Commonwealth. He's putting his right-wing political agenda above the health and welfare of Virginia women, trying to shut down women's health clinics that provide safe and legal abortion care.

Ken Cuccinelli isn't trying to protect women's health or keep Virginians safe--he's trying to circumvent the law to end choice in Virginia. We need leaders who share our values, who will focus on the issues important to us, and who put our needs above their political ambitions. Far right-wing politicians like Cuccinelli aren't focused on solving our problems. They're just creating more of them.

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Get the Facts:

  • Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify regulations adopted by the Virginia Board of Health because they grandfathered in existing clinics from regulations intended to force all women's health clinics to close. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 17, 2012)

  • The recent legislation, signed by Gov. McDonnell, singles out women's health centers that provide abortions and forces them to comply with hospital standards. No other outpatient clinic in Virginia, including those performing oral and cosmetic surgery, are forced to adhere to these standards. The underlying purpose is to force clinic closure through requiring unaffordable construction. (Washington Post, July 27, 2012)

  • In addition to family planning services, Virginia's women's health clinics provide life-saving cancer screenings and health care services like STD screenings. (ProgressVA, June 14, 2012)

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