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."
Thousands of Virginians have taken action to urge regulators to rely on evidence-based medicine, preserve access to safe and legal abortion.
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."
Bob McDonnell Akin-izes Republican platform, Paul Ryan returns to VA to tout backwards policies
Putting to rest any doubt about conservatives' anti-woman agenda, Bob McDonnell's platform committee today approved language opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest. The move brings the official party position in line with Todd Akin and Paul Ryan's radical anti-woman, anti-family ideology. According to news reports, McDonnell, chairman of the platform committee, applauded the move as "affirming our respect for human life." The move fits squarely with McDonnell's own radical record, best exemplified by his support for the widely condemned "vaginal probe" ultrasound bill.
Virginians would be right to wonder whether conservatives are vying for some "Grand Poobah of Anti-Woman Conservatives" prize. Tomorrow, Paul Ryan returns to the Commonwealth, hoping Virginia voters won't pay much attention to his decidedly anti-family record. Never mind Ryan's support for federal personhood legislation, his refusal to support the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or his scheme to end Medicare as we know it. A new report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund lays out that the Romney-Ryan ticket would be a disaster for women across the board.
This week, access to safe and legal abortion in Virginia is at stake. Behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Governor Bob McDonnell is risking the health of Virginia women.
This Friday, June 15, the Virginia Board of Health will vote on whether to move forward with the McDonnell administration's proposed permanent regulations of women's health care centers. The regulations go against the recommendations of medical professionals. If passed, these TRAP (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers) rules will become the most restrictive state abortion regulations in the country--threatening to end access to critical cancer screenings, annual care, and access to safe and legal first-trimester abortion for thousands of Virginia women.
Today the comic strip Doonesbury kicks off a series lampooning attacks on women that started in Virginia and have spread to states like Georgia and Texas. The series will call out a state-mandated transvaginal ultrasound before pregnancy termination for what it is - a "10-inch shaming wand." I can only hope ringleaders like Gov. Bob McDonnell are called out by name.
As the Washington Post reports, several newspapers like The Oregonian, the Gainesville Sun and the Ocala Star-Banner have decided not to carry the strip. Well, even if their readers won't be exposed to the absurdity of Republican attacks on women, they'll learn that if you want someone to stand up for the First Amendment, you can't trust corporate media giants like Oregonian owner Advance Publications to do it for you.
UPDATE: OrangeDem reports the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star has also refused to run this cartoon.
The two bill are HB 1, which would define a fertilized egg as a person and could outlaw abortion under all circumstances and restrict women's access to birth control, and HB 462, which will traumatize women by forcing some to submit to an invasive, transvaginal ultrasound before seeking an abortion.
Candidate Bob McDonnell's distaste for women's rights was no secret. His masters thesis emerged early in the campaign, revealing his opposition to mothers working outside the home and to the use of contraception by unmarried couples.
A majority of women voters supported McDonnell anyway. It's impossible to know the exact percent, but the final Washington Post poll before the election gives us a good idea. Fifty perfect of women backed McDonnell - and McDonnell actually went on to outperform the poll, winning 59% to 41%.
I understand the outrage at watching McDonnell's views actually be implemented in Richmond. But I don't think we can understand how to reverse the damage if we treat this as some completely unforeseen, unwarranted attack by aliens from outer space. The Republican war on women's rights in Richmond is not an "overreach" as some are calling it - Bob McDonnell and his fellow Republicans are doing exactly what we knew they'd do.
Where do you think the failure lies? Were Democratic efforts to highlight McDonnell's views insufficient? Did women choose to ignore McDonnell's views, or to convince themselves he wouldn't actually put his beliefs into action? Do women value these rights less than they value other issues? What can progressives do differently in the future to reach out to women in every corner of Virginia?
Last night, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation announced it will stop funding Planned Parenthood's lifesaving breast cancer screenings. Why? Because of political pressure from congressional conservatives and anti-choice extremists like those pushing personhood through Virginia's General Assembly.
Planned Parenthood is often the only provider of health care services for low-income and underserved women. Komen's support for Planned Parenthood has provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and referrals for more than 6,400 mammograms in just the last 5 years. These cancer detection and prevention programs save lives, plain and simple.
Yesterday, ProgressVA reported on how Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will even further politicize his office by refusing to step down while running for in the Republican primary for Governor of Virginia. Today there is a prime example of how he has been doing it already.
The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health, which ProgressVA supports, called out Cuccinelli for using the office of the Attorney General to influence the regulatory process of women's health clinics in order to, in effect, end a woman's right to choose and access to safe and legal abortion services in the Commonwealth. The Coalition states,
"As a coalition of women's health providers and advocates, we are shocked at the degree to which the McDonnell administration has chosen to ignore the recommendations of medical experts to push its own politicized agenda.
"Politics - not public health - is the driving force behind the regulations, which are clearly part of an unprecedented political campaign at the state and federal levels to undermine women's access to safe, legal reproductive health care services.
"We are truly dismayed to learn of the state's hypocrisy in convening a panel of medical professionals, and then rejecting their advice when it didn't advance the state's goal of shutting down abortion providers. Not only does this demonstrate that the Attorney General's office has no regard for women's constitutional right to reproductive choice, but it also shows disdain for the rulemaking process and disrespect for medical professionals who volunteered their time and expertise to uphold patient health."
The Coalition is speaking out against the regulations today at a State Board of Health meeting in Richmond. As a result of Cuccinelli politicizing the process that resulted in the restrictive regulations, the Coalition is calling on Governor McDonnell to reject them. Virginians deserve regulations that genuinely prioritized the health of Virginia's women, and that are not influenced by the ideological beliefs of Ken Cuccinelli.
Lately, Barbara Comstock has taken to declaring how she is focused on supposedly sensible, bipartisan solutions for Northern Virginia, a strange posture for the woman who headed the RNC’s effort to destroy Vice President Al Gore’s reputation and was a close associate of the infamous Monica Goodling – of DOJ US Attorney scandal. For details on this part of Comstock's history, see here.
But as we already know, Barbara Comstock is anything but a moderate. For the gory details of her extreme voting record, see here.
Upon closer scrutiny, Comstock’s record gets even worse: She has identified herself as a dedicated admirer of Judge Robert Bork, one of the most extreme arch-conservative legal thinkers, whose views were so far out of the mainstream that his Supreme Court nomination was rejected by a 58-42 vote in the 1980s. Comstock was the chief patron of a bill in the House of Delegates, HR 67 honoring Judge Bork – despite his reputation. See here
What makes Bork so extreme that it calls her judgment into question? Based on articles at ThinkProgress and here, controversial stances Bork has taken include:
Of course it does. But it would be more meaningful with effective Democratic leadership. On votes that were important to preserving women's rights, an almost solid Democratic caucus nearly succeeded in halting reactionary social engineering. But Senator Saslaw failed to influence either of two colleagues to simply walk away.
Senator Mamie Locke (D-2nd) and Delegate Robin Abbott (D-93rd) express their dissatisfaction with the lack of success the Democratic members of both chambers have had working together. As Senator Locke points out, if a bill comes across from the House of Delegates with what appears to be overwhelming Democratic support, there is small reason to suspect serious deficiencies. So it isn't just in the Senate where Democratic leadership fails.
The National Women's History Museum Act of 2009 sailed through the House of Representatives, but ran into a stone wall in the Senate, a stone wall named Senators Jim DeMint (R, SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). The two Senators put another one of those mysterious "holds" on the legislation, "preventing it from passing with unanimous consent and implying a potential filibuster," as reported by change.org writer Roxann MtJoy. Their rationale? "Taxpayers might be asked to subsidize the museum in the future," and a fear that "the museum would focus on abortion rights without 'featuring any of the many contributions of the pro-life movement in America.'"
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