From Progress Virginia (photo from NARAL Virginia) - another huge #FAIL by Ken Kookinelli.
Legal challenge to politically motivated abortion provider regulations will go forward
Arlington, VA - A circuit court judge this morning overruled a motion from the Virginia Attorney General's office in the case of Falls Church Medical Center vs. Virginia Board of Health (CL13001362-00). The ruling means Falls Church Healthcare Center's lawsuit over the politically motivated regulations will proceed. Outside the courtroom, over 100 women's health supporters rallied in support of Falls Church Healthcare Center and their suit against regulations that threaten to shutter the majority of Virginia's first-trimester abortion providers.
Rosemary Codding, director of FCHC, celebrated the court's ruling. "We're thrilled that the court today rejected the Attorney General's attempts to keep this case from being heard. The courts are the citizens' last resort to monitor government agencies and correct the wrongs. Our appeal ultimately challenges regulations that will remove access to legal, safe abortioncare as part of women's health services. We can now look forward to our day in court to overturn these burdensome and medically unnecessary regulations."
Despite failing bees, flagellant Congress, fraudulent banks and flailing pay check to pay check, each new dawn gives our mental sun opportunity to burn off the fog of yesterday, and clothed our vision with the promise, it's going to be OK.
Recently, there was a piece in the Richmond Times Dispatch by Every Child Matters President Michael Petit, making it clear there's an issue that cuts along partisan lines and will benefit whichever major party candidate has the common sense to take up this cause: The plight of our children. Some recent studies have shown a spike in poverty among children that is not only deeply immoral in a country as wealthy as this one, but will only hurt us as decreased educational opportunities lead to fewer job opportunities and an increased likelihood of getting caught up in the penal system. This is what one could call common sense.
From the piece:
Last month, another national study reported on the economic well-being of American children and their families, and it contained some shocking findings. Nationwide, 16.4 million children, or 23 percent, were in families living in poverty in 2011, an increase from 15.7 million - or 22 percent - in 2010, and 3 million more than in 2005. This was on top of the finding in 2012 that the number of children living in poverty had increased by nearly 33 percent from 2000 to 2010.
How has Virginia fared? According to data from the Census Bureau, the "deep poverty" rate jumped by more than 20 percent, putting 260,000 children in households in which the income level for a family of four was below $22,000 per year. Poverty, of course, is not an academic exercise. To put it in human terms, hundreds of thousands of Virginia children go to sleep hungry, don't get the medical care they need or are inadequately supervised while parents work. For many of these children, poverty is so disruptive that a basic education is often not possible because of frequent moves or because they attend underfunded schools that place them squarely at educational risk.
I know you're thinking what I'm thinking: build a border fence! Increase defense spending! Cut taxes for multinational corporations!
From ProgressVA, this is utterly appalling...but not surprising coming from this ultra-extreme group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL).
Gun Violence Prevention Advocates Condemn Giveaway At Blacksburg “Stepping Out” Festival
Silent Vigil to be held 1-4pm today in protest
Blacksburg, VA - The Virginia Citizens Defense League, an extreme gun group self-described as “a gun-rights organization that makes the NRA look moderate” will raffle off a Glock handgun this weekend at the Stepping Out festival in downtown Blacksburg. The move is especially traumatizing and insensitive considering a Glock handgun was one of two weapons used by Seung-Hui Cho to shoot and kill 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.
Members of the Virginia Tech community and advocates for gun violence prevention criticized the giveaway. Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, said, “The senseless act of violence at Virginia Tech, committed by a mentally ill gunman armed with a Glock handgun, produced a deep wound on the citizens of Blacksburg and the entire Virginia Tech community that has yet to heal. The VCDL’s thoughtless and offensive raffle of an identical weapon simply throws acid on that wound rather than show empathy for this community.”
“Raffling off this particular weapon at a simple celebration of the Blacksburg community is entirely disrespectful of the people who were injured and killed at Virginia Tech and the trauma this community has experienced,” said Andy Goddard, president of the Virginia Center for Public Safety. Goddard’s son, Colin, was also shot at Virginia Tech. “The VCDL should cancel this giveaway out of respect for the families that were destroyed by a weapon identical to the one they plan to give away.”
In silent protest of the VCDL's raffle, members of the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities will hold silent vigil from 1pm - 4pm Friday, August 2nd next to VCDL booth in the Community Connections section of Steppin' Out, Farmer's Market at corner of Draper and Roanoke St to remember those whose lives have been destroyed by senseless gun violence.
This is not the first time the VCDL has engendered controversy and accusations insensitivity to the effects of gun violence.In 2007, the organization held a gun raffle in Fairfax County amid criticism for ties to the Virginia Tech controversy.
With no sense of irony, late last night North Carolina's GOP banned "Sharia law," in the same bill in which it legislated (tacked on) women's reproductive health and made abortions much harder to get. There is zero risk of real "Sharia law." But there is a very real risk, indeed fact, that theocrats are tyranizing North Carolinians. This was born out in the Republicans-Gone-Wild Theater, formerly known as the NC General Assembly.
Here's the scoop from WRAL. One of the more striking and onerous provisions is that a doctor must be present for the duration of both a surgical and medical (RU-486) abortions. Physicians assistants and nurse practitioners need not apply. This, for all practical purposes, renders the ability of women to get safe, legal abortions history.
Gandhi, King, Mandela and Congressman John Lewis stood tall, non-violently, for equality and freedom, even when beaten and imprisoned. This is standing your ground. Stalking unarmed teenagers, whether self-proclaimed gang leader or self-appointed neighborhood watch, is not.
'Stand Your Ground' like Helen Thomas did, when a foxy President cornered by the wise old feisty hen, tried tap dancing to the tune: I didn't really want to preemptively strike and go to war with a country which had nothing to do with the 2,977 deaths on 9/11. I just wanted to 'shock and awe' until 3,527 Americans stood their last ground for the American Dreams of Bankers and BP/Halliburton corporate types.
Detroit, though only one example of neglecting urban issues to death, deserves fellow American citizens standing their ground to prevent more murders and more Governors hiring more city managers for more city obits.
Whether financial burden on those trying to get the highest and best education, or deterioration of employer provided healthcare, or home ownership, or funeral charged to a credit card, BANKs are the Alpha of American BANKruptcy and Foreclosure, their Omega for Right and Left Americans.
So "Stand Your Ground" as much against those who start wars for profit with no financial motivation for ending them, as we stand our national security ground against those who choose to expose the felicity of power's foreign and domestic spying and killing machines.
Nonetheless, those standing their ground for bathtub drowned government, without realizing how very passé is the time without taxes allowing Robber Barons to "build America" on the backs of their assembly lined unrepresented worker bees, need their "Father, Knows Best" reality checked.
When we profess standing your ground for our U. S. Constitution, is the highest expression of American patriotism, then as "We the People" we are obliged to "Stand Your Ground' in defense of a tasteless and insensitive magazine cover, and 'Stand Your Ground' by neither buying the publication nor buying into a myopic press, or gerrymandered government.
As patriotic Americans standing our ground for The First Amendment, we are standing up for a Mosque in lower Manhattan, and the "right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." However, unless living in our largest IOU holder, one citizen's freedom is not allowed to infringe on another's.
Speaking of China, it's really not all that American to 'Stand Your Ground' herded by ABC's "Made in America" ratings solicitation. Our past trials in isolationism aided and abetted world wars, holocaust, genocide, ethnic cleansing, starving children, women as chattel, export import imbalance and the inhumanity of the powerful on the "least of these."
Better to 'Stand Your Ground' as a super power for humanity and example of 'Truth, Justice and a new and improved American Way,' but be conservative when standing your ground on hunting trips, with a friend so much a legend in his own wonder lust and filled with unknown hydration sources, that you, like oil sources get in his sights.
As earth Stewarts, we need to be good listening neighbors, who remember to send the elevator back down for the next generation, so truly, 'No Child is Left Behind." That's the wise alternative to self-destruction by corporate media driven polarization.
Standing your ground against potential contribution of women and citizens of every color, has already cost America a colossal reservoir of immense talent, and we need to do better.
Having lived on 'both sides of the track' President Barack Obama is probably a good choice to guide us into the 21st century reality that Franklin was correct, "we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
Let's stand our ground with our children, who are better.
Last Wednesday, I did a blog post on the Fairfax City council's last meeting, in which they voted 4-2 to pass a new zoning ordinance that covered, among other things, women's health (including abortion) clinics. Since then, I've been reading commentary (and emails) by a variety of people, including Ben Tribbett ("The Fairfax City Disaster"), Catherine S. Read ("Inappropriate Zoning for Women's Health Centers"), Kathy Lund Hackshaw, and Fairfax City council member Dan Drummond ("My Vote on Zoning Amendment"), etc. I also had a chance to chat for almost two hours with Dan Drummond this past weekend. I wish I could tell you that all of this has completely clarified the issue in my mind, but I'm not sure I'd go that far. One thing I would say is that this is an important, complicated issue that almost certainly needs further study and discussion before it proceeds any further. With that, here are some (super-wonky) bullet points regarding the information I've gathered over the past week. Enjoy(?)...if you're a total policy wonk, that is.
*The women's health clinic in question here, NOVA Health Clinic, was already closed due to a lawsuit (other tenants were reportedly complaining, supposed nonpayment of rent, etc.), issues related to TRAP, etc. as reported by Tom Jackman of the Washington Post this morning.
*The clinic had been looking to move to a location on Main Street in Fairfax City, but their application for a non-residential use permit was "denied in May because officials decided parking at the building was not adequate." (I also was told that NOVA Health Center withdrew its application, given that it was clear it wouldn't be approved due to parking, etc.)
*There was clearly a great deal of opposition by people in the neighborhood to placing the clinic essentially across the street from them. To what extent you feel this opposition was justified - and obviously, most of us care what goes in right across the street from our homes - or that it was "NIMBYism" is an open question; my view is that there were elements of both.
*Apparently, it was after the permit denial that the issue came to the attention of the Fairfax City council, resulting in a process that led up to last Tuesday night's 4-2 vote. Note that the vote occurred after numerous pro-choice activists, but no anti-abortion activists for whatever reason, spoke. I DO find it odd that no anti-abortion people spoke at that meeting, especially since I hear they were well aware of this and had spoken up previously; what's up with that exactly? "Strategery?" Hmmm.
*Just for comparison, it's interesting to note how Fairfax COUNTY defines "medical care facility". It's an extensive list, but also explicitly states that it shall "not include a physician's office, first aid station for emergency medical or surgical treatment, medical laboratory..." Got that?
*One big question is to what extent the public should have input into zoning applications, and to what degree the process should be based on clear, objective criteria (e.g., parking) as opposed to subjective ones. My understanding is that Fairfax City was attempting to figure out a way to facilitate public input while maintaining objective criteria for making zoning decisions. The question is, did they succeed?
From NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. Also note, I've been talking to leaders in Fairfax City and hope to have some more commentary on all this later today or tomorrow...
NOVA WOMEN'S HEALTHCARE CLOSES DOORS
Largest abortion provider in Commonwealth faced multiple barriers to providing safe, legal reproductive health care
Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, released the following statement on the recently-announced closure of NOVA Women's Healthcare, the largest abortion provider in the Commonwealth:
"I was deeply saddened to learn that NOVA Women's Healthcare in Fairfax City has been forced to close its doors. NOVA Women's Healthcare has provided safe, exemplary medical care in Northern Virginia for over 10 years, and was one of the largest women's health centers in the Commonwealth. Its closure affects thousands of Virginia women and families, and leaves its many patients without their trusted healthcare provider."
This announcement comes less than a month after new statewide regulations on abortion providers went into effect in Virginia, and six days after the Fairfax City Council mandated women's health centers undergo an extensive and subjective zoning application process - despite allowing other doctors' and dentists offices to remain zoned by-right. The City Council took up this measure after NOVA Women's Healthcare submitted an application to move to Main St. in May. The clinic's request was eventually denied on the grounds that its perspective building had one parking space below the minimum required.
"The fact that a single parking space helped dictate the ability of this clinic to continue providing safe and legal care is a testament to the many intricate and intersecting barriers that Virginia's women's health centers face every single day," Keene continued. "New and politically-motivated regulations on abortion providers, which went into effect last month, only added to this burden. And had NOVA been able to comply with the cost and hurdles of TRAP, Fairfax City's new zoning ordinance would have served as yet another obstacle to this center's ability to continue serving its patients.
It just goes to show that while these regulations and barriers may seem manageable when viewed separately, they are part of a larger anti-choice strategy to shutter clinics and restrict women's healthcare. We are devastated by today's news."
"Virginia's women's health centers provide comprehensive reproductive care to thousands of women across the Commonwealth," said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA. "The closure of NOVA Women's Healthcare is devastating not only to their patients, but also to Virginians who are devoted to ensuring women have access to affordable care, medically accurate information, and safe and legal abortion care. NOVA's closure underlines how politicians across Virginia, at the state and local level, have shut down access to health care services. We remain devoted to ensuring every Virginian has access to safe and affordable health care services."
NOVA Women's Healthcare is the second abortion provider to close in Virginia since TRAP regulations went into effect in April. A majority of the Commonwealth's remaining 18 abortion providers could close as early as 2014.
The following press release is from Strong Kids, Strong Virginia. Also, the Mason-Dixon poll results mentioned in the press release indicate that large majorities of Virginians see programs for kids as important priorities. For instance, 87% say child hunger is an important problem to deal with; 79% say that health care for kids is important; 78% say that after-school programs are important; 71% say pre-school education is important; and 54% say it's a "greater concern" that Virginia kids "won't have opportunities" than that "state taxes too high." As usual, the Tea Party ticket of Cuccinelli/Jackson/Obenshain has the exact opposite priorities of the majority of Virginians, but what else is new, right? Let's just make sure we don't elect them this November!
Marilyn Musgrave of the anti-abortion "Susan B. Anthony List" speaks at the "Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference" Friday in Washington DC. Musgrave praises Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona) as "a great pro-life leader." (Note that Franks stirred up controversy this past week when he said that "The incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low," and that "When you make that exception, there's usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours and, in this case, that's impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation and that's what completely negates and vitiates the purpose of such an amendment.")
Musgrave urges everyone to support Franks' legislation to "ban abortions nationwide...a 20 week ban...we're talking about a late-term abortion bill." Finally, I'd point out that Musgrave's group, the "Susan B. Anthony List," is heavily backing Ken Cuccinelli and the entire Virginia Republican ticket (Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, Mark Obenshain) this year for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. Birds of a feather and all that...
Young America Foundation VP Kate Obenshain - formerly an "appointee of Governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore on the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia,"also "chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 2002 to 2006" and "Senator George Allen's Chief of Staff for the remainder of his term in the U.S. Senate following the Senator's loss" - speaks at the far-right-wing "Faith and Freedom Coalition" conference yesterday in Washington DC.
In this clip, Obenshain calls Planned Parenthood "barbarians" who are "promoting a barbaric philosophy." She also claims that everythying on college campuses is "oriented towards promoting the billion dollar abortion industry...it's not about the right of women to control their bodies, it's about the right of Planned Parenthood to make billions and billions." She concludes that "our college campuses are indoctrination camps for the abortion industry...that's what it is."
Of course, that's not what college is about at all, nor is that what "sensitivity training" and everything else Obenshain's ranting and raving about. But, like so many right wingnuts, Obenshain never lets facts and reality get in the way of her loony-tunes narrative.
The Alliance for Citizenship, Partnership for a New American Economy and Republicans for Immigration Reform released a new poll today showing broad support for immigration reform across political parties and other demographics.
Organizations in Virginia are responding to the poll, noting that immigration reform is a moral and economic imperative, and Congress needs to act to pass the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill currently being debated in the U.S. Senate.
Virginia Organizing Chairperson Sandra A. Cook said, "We sent Congress to Washington to get this job done. It is clear that a large majority of Virginia's electorate supports this bill. We implore Congress to pass this bill and fix our broken immigration system."
Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, Chair of Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) also believes Congress should pay attention. Aranda-Yanoc said, "Our Congressional representatives were sent to Washington to work on important issues such as those considered in this poll and must act now to fix our broken immigration system."
For anyone who tries to claim that Republicans aren't waging a relentless war on women's rights, not to mention on science and the Enlightment, see the following two exhibits of recent, Republican insanity. Just like the GOP insanity we see here in Virginia, with "transvaginal ultrasounds," attempts to make miscarriages illegal, other attempts to make contraception illegal/shut down Planned Parenthood, etc. It will never end, until we make sure that not a single one of these extremists is in office. Here in Virginia, that first and foremost means we need to defeat Ken Cuccinelli (bought into the lunatic conspiracy theory that Planned Parenthood is racist and is aiming to abort black children for eugenics purposes, etc.), EW Jackson (who has compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK), and Mark Obenshain (who wants to criminalize miscarriages). Anyway, on to the exhibits:
Exhibit B: In Wisconsin, "Republican state senators in Wisconsin on Wednesday silenced Democratic lawmakers while passing a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before being able to receive an abortion."(see video of Republican lunacy and strong-arm tactics on the "flip")
A superb actress on one of the greatest TV shows ever ("All in the Family"), Jean Stapleton also fought for the Equal Rights Amendment and was "long-running chair of Women's Research & Education Institute, a public policy think-tank focused specifically on issues affecting women." Stapleton died yesterday at the age of 90. Rest in peace.
I mean, I always have thought Patrick Stewart was an amazing actor, and from what I knew of him a fine human being, but this just raised my respect level for him to a whole new level. Aside from sharing his own personal story dealing with violence against women and PTSD (his father, who had fought in WWI, had what was then called "severe shell shock"), Patrick Stewart talked about his work on these issue. He concluded with this powerful statement, plus a hug for the woman who asked the question and prompted this powerful exchange. Amazing.
As a child, I heard in my home, doctors and ambulance men say, "Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something to provoke him; Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument." Wrong. Wrong! My mother did nothing to provoke that. And even if she had, violence is never, EVER a choice that a man should make, ever.
It was bad enough Virginia women have had to endure Transvaginal Bob (T-Bob). It is bad enough that Ken Cuccinelli and Bishop EW Jackson spend too much of their their mental lives ruminating about women's private parts. It's bad enough that they ultimately want to felonize abortion. But their partner on the ticket, Republican AG Candidate, Mark Obenshain, supported/supports criminalizing miscarriage. If the law he introduced had been passed, women who miscarry would have had to file a police report or face a misdemeanor charge. That is not the worst of the bill. The purpose for his legislation was to make miscarriage grounds for criminal investigation (hence the police report). This man is running for AG in Virginia. And the other two on the ticket are only too happy to embrace him. These men are quite simply sick. And there is no cure for what ails their minds, brains and hearts.
One fifth of pregnancies end on spontaneous miscarriage. Several decades ago, one-fourth of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage. But your 21st century radical Republicans want to criminalize nature and, thus, a very large number of women. You would think that if they couldn't conjure up basic decency, sympathy, and fairness, they would understand this flies in the face of even most conservatives. Women who miscarry often endure painful labor, they are figuratively dropped off a hormonal cliff, they are in most cases overwhelmed by sorrow and loss. But instead of humanity, these guys (emphasis GUYS) offer up tracking women into the criminal justice system. Some justice. Talk about kicking someone when she is down.
The following videos (here and on the "flip") are from last night's NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia forum in Alexandria. The following videos are of NARAL Executive Director Tarina Keene and Virginia's next Attorney General, State Senator Mark Herring (with a sterling 100% pro-choice record), blasting GOP Attorney General nominee Mark Obenshain's 2009 proposed legislation to essentially criminalize miscarriages (forcing women to report them within 24 hours, have police come out to the woman's home, take a report, and investigate the "evidence").
As Keene put it, Obenshain's bill would have made "every woman of reproductive age as a suspect." Keene also reminds everyone that Obenshain's "ridiculous" legislation was first introduced back in 2005 by Del. Cosgrove, who withdrew the bill after a tremendous backlash (including by fellow Virginia progressive blogger Maura Keaney). Apparently, Mark Obenshain - with his pathetic, ZERO rating on choice - never learns.
Sen. Herring added that what Obenshain (who "has a long record of anti-choice legislation") did with the miscarriage bill was "fundamentally wrong," and that "with him as Attorney General, you could expect a lot more of that and we can't let that happen." So true.
P.S. It was also good seeing Senator Adam Ebbin and former Senator Mary Margaret Whipple there last night.
Yet again, the person who's given over $700,000 to Virginia Republicans (including over $100,000 to his "dear friend" "Bobby" McDonnell, as well as $3,500 to Ken Cuccinelli), demonstrates the medieval mentality of these people. In short, women should forgive their husbands for cheating on them: a) because they're men, and let's face it men cheat (so much for "Thou shalt not commit adultery!"); and b) heck, he puts food on the table, a roof over your head, etc., so suck it up and forgive the poor guy already! So, women of Virginia, if you agree with Pat Robertson, all you have to do is go ahead and vote for Ken Cuccinelli et al., and that's exactly the mentality you'll be putting in charge of our state for the next four years. Sounds great, huh? No, I didn't think so.
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