Republican state legislators in Virginia want so badly for the public to forget about the state's recent legislative battles over abortion that they have tried to strike a deal with Democrats to keep them quiet, a Democratic aide told The Huffington Post on Friday.
According to the legislative aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) began meeting with Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) in early December to discuss what state lawmakers have been referring to as a "grand bargain" on women's issues. According to the terms of the alleged deal, Democrats would lay low on the abortion issue in the media and drop efforts to repeal controversial anti-abortion laws that the Virginia General Assembly has recently passed, and in return, Republican leadership would send one GOP vote over to the Democrats' side on any new piece of anti-abortion legislation that is introduced in order to ensure that it does not pass. (The Virginia State Senate has 21 Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and 20 Democrats.)
"It's about keeping media off the topic," the aide said. "If Democrats came out swinging trying to repeal some of these laws, it's going get media coverage. [Republicans] really just want a state of neutrality."
Clearly, that makes ZERO (or less than ZERO if that's possible) sense from the Democrats' point of view. In terms of policy, of course, the last thing we want to do is to acquiesce in any way to Virginia Republicans' incessant war on women's health and reproductive freedom. Politically speaking, the last thing we want to do, as we head into a crucial gubernatorial election year against one of the poster boys for the war on women (presumptive Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli), is to let Republicans off the hook for their "personhood" amendments; their "transvaginal ultrasounds;" their efforts to shut down women's health, family planning and abortion clinics across the state; etc. We certainly DO NOT want to keep this out of the media, to hush it up, or to lay low on this subject. A thousand times NO!
Update: 4:59 p.m. -- Herring told The Huffington Post on Friday that no kind of bargain among Senate leadership could keep him from trying to repeal the abortion clinic regulations.
"Nobody's going to be able to muzzle me on these issues," he said. "I wont be a part of any kind of a deal like that. This is about fighting for what's right for women."
That about sums it up right there, thanks to Sen. Mark Herring for putting it so clearly. The bottom line: no way in HELL should we agree to back off our defense of women's reproductive freedom, health, and liberty! To the contrary, as Sen. Herring clearly understands, we should be redoubling our efforts to protect Virginia women's health from extremists' attacks. If you agree with this goal, please sign Sen. Herring's petition, and "Tell Ken Cuccinelli and Bob McDonnell: Hands off women's healthcare!" Thanks.
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