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September 7, 2021 · OPINION

Women’s rights on Virginia ballot this November

Gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R).
By Kathryn Kadilak
The Plains

I sat in stunned disbelief as I read about the Texas anti-choice law that criminalizes all abortions after six weeks.

According to a Sept. 1 NPR report: “The Texas law, passed in May, bans all abortions in the state after about six weeks of pregnancy — well before many women even know they are pregnant. The policy conflicts with the Supreme Court’s precedents, which prohibit states from banning abortion before fetal viability, usually between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. Texas’ new law is one of the most strict abortion bans in the nation.

“It also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion, including those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance in obtaining an abortion. Private citizens who bring these suits don’t need to show any connection to those they are suing. If they prevail, the law entitles them to a minimum of $10,000 in damages, plus attorneys’ fees.”

The Texas Republican leaders’ “pro-life” stance is cynical at best. I guess they are only pro-life when exclusively targeting women. They are only pro-government overreach when exclusively targeting women. They are only pro-authoritarian rule, when exclusively targeting women.

Consider this: Texas is, ironically, the same state whose Republican leaders are trying to force anti-vaccination and anti-mask policies onto their citizens, businesses and school systems under the guise of freedom from government overreach. It is clear to anyone who has followed the science that getting a vaccination and wearing a mask can save lives – yours, your family, your friends, your neighbors, anyone you encounter. Pro-life be damned.

In China, the communist government forced abortions on families to deal with overpopulation. The Texas law is the flip side of the same coin, only in this instance they force women to sustain an unwanted pregnancy. Who will this most effect? The poor and the vulnerable who will not have the money and connections to quietly pursue abortions. It happened prior to Roe v. Wade and it will again.

The Democratic majority in our state legislature, by contrast, has enacted several measures protecting a woman’s reproductive freedom. These include: eliminating Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound law that would force a woman seeking an abortion to endure an unnecessary and intrusive procedure; eliminating a required 24-hour waiting period and counseling process; and rolling back unnecessary restrictions on reproductive health centers, restrictions that were aimed at closing those centers offering abortions.

Terry McAuliffe has pledged to work with our state legislators to pass an amendment to the Virginia Constitution permanently codifying the protections provided through Roe v. Wade. He is committed to addressing women’s health care inequities that result in poor prenatal care and maternal mortality that particularly affect women of color.

Glenn Youngkin has no clearly defined policy on women’s health care or reproductive rights. Although, he was caught on audio clearly stating that he has to limit his antiabortion comments on the campaign trail for fear of alienating Virginia’s independent voters, but that he would go “on offense” if he wins office and Republicans take a majority in the House of Delegates. I believe him and you should, too.

Why is this so critical? We must protect the inherent right, the constitutional right, of women in our state to make the difficult decisions involved in sustaining a pregnancy. For those of us who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth, we know the experience stays with you … for the good or the bad.

This is real life, a life where young girls are sexually abused by a relative or family friend, high school and college girls are date raped, couples are faced with the horrific news of serious, fatal fetal deformities, and women are subjected to heart wrenching decisions after a failed attempt at birth control.

If your religious or personal beliefs dictate that you will not use contraception or get an abortion, so be it. Don’t. However, do not impose your belief system on the rest of us. This is a nation that prides itself on freedom from religious oppression and government interference in our health care choices. Witness the lack of vaccine mandates.

Please stand up for Virginia women and vote for the Democrats in November.
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