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.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced a formal investigation into whether the State of Nevada improperly "dumped" psychiatric patients to his city and across California.
In a letter to the director of Nevada's Department of Health and Human Services sent this morning, Herrera demands that the state turn over documents related to its aggressive practice in recent years of discharging mental patients to Greyhound buses and transporting them across the country. The letter, copied to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, cites a Bee investigation detailing how the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas bused roughly 1,500 patients to other cities and states from July 1, 2008 through early March 2013.
A Bee examination of Greyhound bus receipts found Rawson-Neal bused 500 patients to California during that period; roughly 30 of them were transferred to San Francisco. One of the patient's clients, James Flavy Coy Brown, recently turned up suicidal and confused at a Sacramento homeless services complex after he was discharged via Greyhound to Sacramento, with no prepration for his housing, care or treatment.
Two things. First, after multiple mass shootings involving mentally ill shooters, including Virginia Tech, this is how Nevada is treating people suffering from mental illness? Second, remember this the next time you hear a Republicans say we need stronger mental health care, not stricter gun control laws. This Republican governor is dumping mentally ill people out of his state like human trash.
"President Obama makes a statement from the Rose Garden following the Senate's vote to block common-sense measures to reduce gun violence. April 17, 2013." Among other comments, a rightfully angry President Obama called this a "shameful day for Washington," asked "who are we here to represent?", said "the American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen," and noted today's Senate #FAIL "came down to politics - the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections."
Also, for the record, here's how Virginia's two U.S. Senators voted on Manchin-Toomey and the other gun measures today. Every one of these was rejected, as they couldn't reach 60 votes for "cloture." Great Democracy we've got, huh?
1. Manchin-Toomey (background checks): Warner and Kaine both voted "aye," along with the vast majority of Democrats.
2. Grassley amendment: Warner and Kaine both voted "nay," along with the vast majority of Democrats.
3. Leahy amendment ("To increase public safety by punishing and deterring firearms trafficking."): Kaine and Warner both voted "aye," as did all Democrats.
4. Cornyn amendment ("To allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms."): Kaine voted "nay," along with the vast majority of Democrats; Warner voted "aye," as did all Republicans except for Senator Kirk of Illinois. Thanks to Tim Kaine. Huge #FAIL to Mark Warner on this one. Ugh.
5. Feinstein amendment ("To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes."): Kaine voted "aye," Warner once again voted "nay." Again, thanks to Tim Kaine, another huge #FAIL to Mark Warner. Godawful.
6. Burr amendment ("To protect the Second Amendment rights of veterans and their families."): Kaine and Warner both voted "nay," along with most Democrats.
7. Lautenberg amendment ("To regulate large capacity ammunition feeding devices."): Kaine voted "aye" with most Democrats; Warner again voted the wrong way ("nay"), mostly with Republicans. Blech.
It's hard to believe it's been 6 years since that horrible day at Virginia Tech, when a deranged shooter with access to serious firepower killed 32 people and wounded 17 others. In some ways, what's even harder to believe is that 6 years after that event - and after other terrible incidents of gun violence - no serious action has been taken to stem this violence at the federal level, or here in Virginia. Clearly, it's long past time, and overwhelming majorities of Americans want action, yet the NRA and others with major financial interest in preventing such action have, so far, largely prevailed. That's unacceptable, and it's long past time we changed it.
With that in mind, see below for a statement by Virginia State Senator Mark Herring, who hopefully will be Virginia's next Attorney General. Also, the photo is from the great folks at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence - VA Tech mom Lori Haas speaking, VA Tech shooting victim Colin Goddard standing behind her, Sen. Tim Kaine third from the right, as well as survivors from Aurora, Tuscon and Newtown, all urging #NoMoreNames!I think that's something we can all agree with.
Today marks the six-year anniversary of the horrific shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech. On the heels of yesterday's bombings at the Boston Marathon, and four months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, our national consciousness has been awakened, and we are called to take action to address this violence and string of tragedies that are becoming all too commonplace in our society.
As we take time today to reflect on the memory of the 32 lives that were taken so suddenly six years ago in Blacksburg, we need to ask ourselves, "how can we make our communities safer and more secure, for ourselves and for our children?"
There are commonsense steps that we can take right now to address the issues of gun violence in our country: universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and reforming our mental health care system.
None of these reforms, on their own or taken together, can prevent every tragedy from occurring, but the time to take action is now. We owe it to the victims and their families, and we owe it to ourselves and to future generations.
The fight to enact these reforms will be difficult, but thank you for joining with me as we work to honor the memory of those who were killed at Virginia Tech.
International women's rights organization, UniteWomen.org, recently launched a rape awareness campaign, Unite Against Rape. An eclectic mix of notable names and average Joes and Janes are lending their voices to this campaign by submitting statements describing why they stand united against the growing societal epidemic of rape. The two most recent high-profile submissions were from Virginia's U.S. Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
Both Senators were cosponsors of the Violence Against Women Act. The Senate version of VAWA passed the House of Representatives on February 28 and was signed by President Obama on March 7, thereby reauthorizing this important legislation.
Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner join the ranks of a potpourri of other participants. Among those who submitted statements for the Unite Against Rape campaign are the following:
Comedians: Roseanne Barr, Margaret Cho, Annabelle Gurwitch and Lois Bromfield
Political Activists: Social Justice Advocate, Sandra Fluke
Athletes: Olympic Sprinter, Drew Reyes and Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Tackle, Ronnie Cameron
Musicians: Courtney Love
Social and Political Commentators: Meghan McCain, Alexandria Goddard (Steubenville Blogger), Leslie Salzillo, Kimberley A. Johnson and Tanya Tatum
Members of the XOJane Team: Jane Pratt, Mandy Stadtmiller, Alison Freer, Marci Robin and Julia Allison
Actors: Yuri Lowenthal, Pia Glenn and Sharon Gardner
Artists: Tormented Sugar
Writers and Producers: Herman Williams, III, Pat Bertram and Michele Rolle
Military Members: Executive Director of the Military Rape Crisis Center, Panayiota Bertzikis
Celebrity Relationship Experts: Dr. Gilda Carle and Dr. Sheri Meyers
Indeed, this is a motley crew of individuals with at least one thing in common: the desire to help raise awareness of the epidemic of rape in our culture. In addition to these public personalities, a slew of everyday women and men from around the world are stepping up to stand in solidarity.
Today, the Virginia Board of Health voted to approve the targeted restriction of abortion providers. Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC, issued the following statement in response:
"The sole purpose of these types of restrictions is to make abortion inaccessible to women by imposing unnecessary and sometimes impossible-to-meet restrictions on health centers. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said these restrictions are designed to "make abortion disappear in America."
These restrictions are part of a coordinated strategy by gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, the endorsed candidate of extremist groups, and his allies to end safe and legal abortion in Virginia.
The consequences are dangerous for women's health. By shutting down health centers that provide a range of services to women, these restrictions will make it harder for Virginia women to get affordable birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Ken Cuccinelli and his extreme allies won't stop unless we stop them. As a leading advocate for Planned Parenthood health centers in Virginia, Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC is leading the charge to keep Ken out of the governor's mansion. Because Virginia can't risk Ken Cuccinelli."
Richmond--Today, the General Assembly voted to approve the Governor's amendment to ban abortion coverage in the new health care marketplace. The amendment will prohibit women from purchasing comprehensive health insurance which provides a full range of reproductive health care.
"We are extremely disappointed that the majority of the members of the General Assembly put politics above women's health when they approved the Governor's amendment," said Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.
"Most health plans already include coverage for abortion. A woman should be able to make personal decisions about her health care without the interference of politicians, and her health coverage should enable her to take care of her health and well being," continued Stewart-Reid.
"Now, the women of the Commonwealth will not have access to the full range of reproductive health services and the promise of the Affordable Care Act, which included historic health care benefits for women," Stewart-Reid concluded.
Now, the amended bill will be returned to the Governor for his final approval or veto.
UPDATE: I'm told that Sen. Blevins (R) "was supposed to vote no, but he messed it up by accident. That is why Sen. Wagner walked on the second vote. It would have been 19-20 and defeated." Ugh.
Republicans in the Virginia legislature still don't trust women to make their own health care decisions -- they just don't want to talk about it publicly anymore.
Following the Tea Party victory here in 2009, Republicans began implementing a devastating agenda behind their ideological leader, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. They put our Commonwealth in the national spotlight by enacting a series of embarrassing and demeaning women's health policies.
Who could forget the infamous mandatory transvaginal ultrasound law, which requires women to submit to an invasive, unnecessary procedure as a prerequisite for constitutionally-protected medical care?
Virginia also passed legislation creating targeted regulations that are so unfair and overly burdensome that they would effectively eliminate a number of reproductive health care providers, even those that provide other critical medical services, including things like mammograms. These regulations -- commonly referred to as TRAP laws -- provide unnecessary obstacles to Constitutional rights, and limit women's access to health care.
Today in Rome's Saint Peter's Square, over one hundred thousand people gathered to cheer a new pope. Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, a cardinal committed to social justice for the poor, became Pope Francis, most likely named after Saint Francis of Assisi, champion of the poor. Many Catholics rejoice in an American Pope, from Latin America. The first Latin American, first non-European, and first Jesuit is now the leader of the world's largest faith.
President Obama greeted the news with a statement which said (in part):
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years-that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day
RADICAL ANTI-CHOICE GROUP PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR CUCCINELLI’S WAR ON WOMEN
Susan B. Anthony List to donates $1.5 million to extreme GOP Gubernatorial Candidate
The Susan B. Anthony List, a national organization known for its extreme stance on women’s health care, has announced a commitment of $1.5 million to the Virginia gubernatorial campaign of Republican Ken Cuccinelli. According theAssociated Press, Susan B. Anthony List President Majorie Dannenfelser explained the funding decision as an “easy call”, and argued that Cuccinelli “has an ideal track record for someone who is a pro-women candidate.” Danenfelser also indicated the national significance of the race for Virginia Governor: "This is hands-down the most important election in the country right now."
Caroline O’Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, released the following statement on Susan B. Anthony List’s upcoming announcement:
"The Susan B. Anthony List has a long history of waging war on women’s rights and healthcare, from their support of radical ‘personhood’ legislation to their fight to ban access to abortion in all cases – including rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. It is unsurprising that they would back Cuccinelli, who shares their extreme agenda and has a similar disregard for the health and well-being of Virginian women.
"Praise for Cuccinelli as a ‘pro-woman’ candidate is laughable, quite frankly,” O’Shea continued. "Cuccinelli has spent virtually his entire political career attempting to insert government into women’s personal, private decisions and keep thousands of Virginian women from accessing the critical medical services they need. As is obvious by this heavy donation, powerful and well-funded anti-choice organizations recognize the importance of Virginia’s 2013 election for the future of reproductive rights – both here and nationally – and they are heavily invested in electing a new Virginia governor who will continue their war on women. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is fully prepared to ensure that Virginians understand what’s at stake in this election and expose Cuccinell’s anti-choice agenda for what it is: dangerous, extreme, and out-of-touch with Virginia voters.”
Also see the following from Planned Parenthood of Virginia PAC:
Endorsement from Anti-Women’s Health Group Confirms Cuccinelli’s Dangerous Agenda for Virginia Women
RICHMOND, VA—Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC released the following statement after Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was endorsed by anti-women’s health group Susan B. Anthony List, who pledged $1.5 million to support his campaign for Governor.
“Today’s endorsement confirms that Ken Cuccinelli’s crusade to end safe and legal abortion will continue if he is elected Governor. Throughout his career, Cuccinelli has pushed forward medically unnecessary bills and regulations designed to chip away at women’s access to health care and safe and legal abortion. Let’s not forget that the group endorsing Cuccinelli today is the same group that defended Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock after their ignorant and dangerous comments about rape.
“Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC worked hard to defeat anti-women’s health candidates in November and we are stronger than ever for 2013. We will make sure that Virginia voters are aware of Cuccinelli’s dangerous agenda for women and their health care,” said Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director, Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC.”
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood Virgina PAC, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes launched the “Keep Ken Out” campaign to remind Virginians about Cuccinelli’s dangerous record and agenda for Virginia women’s health and economic security.
His anti-women’s health agenda is out of touch with Virginians. According to election night exit polls, 86 percent of Virginia voters believe abortion should remain legal in at least some or all cases.
GOVERNOR MCDONNELL PLANS BEHIND-THE-SCENES ABORTION BAN
Proposed amendment would restrict Virginia women's ability to purchase abortion coverage with private dollars
After months of calling for a commonsense focus on jobs, transportation, and education, Governor Bob McDonnell is now quietly developing an amendment to further restrict Virginia women's health, rights, and access to safe, legal abortion.
According to a McDonnell spokesperson, the Governor is planning on offering amendments to H.B.1900 and S.B.921, legislation to implement the Virginia health insurance exchange as set out under the Affordable Care Act. These amendments are likely to mirror an amendment offered by Governor McDonnell in 2011, also attached to a health-insurance exchange bill, which prohibits private health-insurance plans participating in the new exchange from including coverage for abortion - coverage that currently exists in nearly 90 percent of plans sold in the private market. The 2011 amendment also prohibits women from purchasing separate policy riders with their own private money.
Caroline O'Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, issued the following statement regarding the governor's proposed amendment:
"It is unacceptable that Governor McDonnell is attempting to hold health care legislation hostage in order to further his agenda of intruding in Virginia women's personal medical decisions. Despite the governor's outward focus on other issues this session, it is obvious that his attacks on reproductive rights and health-care access are alive and well behind the scenes. With this latest action, Governor McDonnell and his anti-choice allies once again reveal their true political intentions: intrude in personal medical decisions and erode access to vital reproductive-health care in our state.
The governor's amendment seeks to take away the coverage for abortion care that is currently included in the vast majority of Virginians' private insurance plans. Virginia law already restricts abortion access for women who get their health insurance through the government, but now Governor McDonnell wants to expand this intrusion into private insurance as well.
Virginia women deserve access to safe, legal health care for themselves and their families. Banning abortion coverage will further restrict critical access to health care for Virginian women and will only result in dangerous, medically unsafe outcomes. It is outrageous that Governor McDonnell would jeopardize women's health in the name of an ideological crusade. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and our thousands of member activists will do everything we can to fight this invasive and dangerous amendment."
As the gun lobby says, only a small percentage of the gun deaths in America are inflicted by semi-automatic weapons. But the importance of fighting to ban these weapons goes beyond the number of lives that can be saved.
Theologians say the most dangerous heresies are those that take a sacred text and distort it by making it absolute. Such absolutes are dangerous because achieving the good always requires balancing competing values.
Americans have been pretty good at understanding that. We hold "freedom of speech" as essential, but we agree with Justice Holmes that it does not include a right to falsely shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. We hold "freedom of religion" to be sacred, but we draw a line at human sacrifice.
No right is absolute-not when the basic security of a society and its people are at stake.
But the NRA refuses to weigh other values. Rejecting attempts to arrive at some wise balance, the NRA has worked for years to inflame their followers with the fear that any limitation on gun rights is an intolerable assault on their freedoms.
With a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, we could turn the gun issue toward political sanity by drawing a line between weapons that serve legitimate civilian purposes, like hunting or personal protection, and weapons with no legitimate purpose, like those that enable a shooter to kill many people in a short time.
These are weapons of war and, to legitimate these weapons, war is what the gun lobby has worked to get its followers to envision. But war against whom? Against their own government if/when that government threatens them with tyranny.
Apparently, despite the drubbing they took in November, Virginia Republicans STILL aren't interested in the Latino vote. At least, they're not interested in the Latino vote if it means they have to stop their demonization of human beings they so tactfully and compassionately call "illegals." Instead, Republicans' idea of a "dream" is more what we'd call a "nightmare," at least if you're not super rich, a big corporation, a polluter, etc.
Republican Senators keep pushing a backward agenda that Virginia voters have repeatedly rejected
RICHMOND, VA - Today, Senate Republicans defeated the Virginia Dream Act, which would give young people with deferred action status in-state tuition at Virginia's public colleges. The bill, SB 1090, was rejected by the Senate Education and Health Committee on a party-line vote of 8 to 7.
Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) said, "I'm disappointed that Republicans rejected an opportunity to provide the most basic chance to promising young people to further their education and become valuable contributors to their communities and the Virginia economy."
Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, "I think it sends a very unfortunate message that Virginia isn't ready for prime time yet when it comes to fair treatment of its children. I'm disappointed that it broke down along party lines, and I'm sad that the GOP hasn't yet opened up its heart to all of our children."
It's great that people were marching today, because the bottom line here is that the ONLY way there's going to be action on this issue - or anything else, for that matter - is via organized, sustained, mass public pressure. In terms of policy, it's obviously long past time for reasonable measures, such as universal background checks, to stem gun violence in this country. And the fact that the VAST majority of Americans (92% according to a recent CBS/NY Times poll) support expanded background checks shows that this is a political winner as well (note: it also shows just how far out of the mainstream the NRA and its loony-tunes "leader," Wayne LaPierre, are on this issue). Now, it's time for Congress to listen to the will of the American people and to take action!
This is nothing short of appalling. Not only are Senator Black's comments extremely offensive to my family and the families of the millions of people (yes - living, breathing, thinking, loving people) who were senselessly killed in the tragedy of the Holocaust, this sort of attack is part of a troubling and ever-expanding strategy to demonize the women of Virginia and the doctors who serve them.
Sen. Dick Black is not an outlier - not some sort of "bad apple" who happened to put his foot in his mouth. As is obvious after watching the Virginia General Assembly launch attack after attack on women's health, plenty of others in the Statehouse hold a similar disdain for a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children. In fact, there are undoubtedly those in Virginia's government who wouldn't hesitate to join the Senator in comparing reproductive health to mass genocide and trained physicians to murderers.
More great work by filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler, this time in their Story of America series. Here's Annabel's and Eric's description of the above video, an interview with Virginia Tech mom Lori Haas, who now works full time to stop the kind of gun violence her daughter experienced:
On Jan 15, 2013, about 100 people delivered a petition to Walmart in Danbury, CT near Newtown asking the company to stop selling military-style rifles in its stores. Walmart is the top gun seller in the country. Among the people gathered there was Lori Haas, the mother of Emily Haas, one of the survivors of the Virginia Tech shooting. This is our interview with Lori. The petition was signed by 300,000 and collected by MomsRising.org and SumOfUs.org
By the way, if you believe the work Eric and Annabel are doing is valuable and would like to help keep it going, please click here to donate. Thanks.
At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has a long post up about being part of the "non-gun tribe." I'd call myself a member as well - I'm all for hunting, and if you feel safer with a well-secured handgun in your house that's your choice, but I personally don't feel safer in the presence of guns and see absolutely no reason for assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.
I didn't fully understand the pro-gun tribe (and I'm talking about the NRA, not about hunters) until I saw the movie Death Wish. It's a time capsule into the era when whites abandoned cities as urban economies declined and crime rose. Death Wish is white revenge porn: White crime victims, young brown criminals, police won't help, older white vigilante with borderline-superpowers dishes out instant capital punishment to would-be muggers (never hitting any innocents, of course) and makes entire city safe again.
Today, it looks like the Birth of a Nation of its era, part of the start of a conservative movement that worships white men with guns and demonizes minorities, cities & the young - even to this day. If you're under 30 and don't remember the Death Wish era, at least watch the trailer.
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